Testimony: Family thought tied-up children were possessed by demons

A judge ruled Tuesday that an Illinois man and his wife will stand trial on child abuse charges after two of their children were found in a Lawrence Walmart parking lot tied up. The father’s lawyer described the practice as a religious belief in the family and a way to guard against demons.

Douglas County Judge Paula Martin said at the conclusion of a preliminary hearing that there was enough evidence to try Adolfo Gomez, 52, and his wife, Deborah Gomez, 44, on two counts each of child abuse. The father also faces a count of obstruction for resisting arrest.

The Northlake, Ill., pair have been in custody since June 13 when police found two of the Gomez children, ages 5 and 7, tied up and with duct tape over their eyes outside a Walmart. The couple’s three other children, ages 12, 13 and 15, were in the family’s SUV unrestrained. The children are in protective custody.

Martin also said the state did not prove its case on five previous aggravated endangerment counts against each parent because of the way the charges were worded. Debby Moody, assistant Douglas County district attorney, said she would amend the five counts and refile them before the couple’s arraignment Thursday.

Lawrence police Detective Randy Glidewell testified that when he interviewed Adolfo Gomez the day of the arrest, Gomez said he had been listening to an online preacher who was predicting the end of the world and that a “darkness had come over the house” in Illinois.

“And the world was coming to an end, and that’s why they left,” Glidewell added, referring to the father’s comments to police.

The detective also said Adolfo Gomez told him he hadn’t slept in nine days, and that Gomez was particularly concerned about one of the younger children. Gomez described the child as “acting like he was possessed,” Glidewell said.

Lawrence police Officer Hayden Fowler testified that one of the older children told him the family believed there were demons in their home and outside their SUV.

Adolfo Gomez’s lawyer, Skip Griffy, also said that blindfolding and binding the younger children was part of the family’s religious beliefs.

“Their actions were taken out of their religious beliefs, that these children were possessed,” Griffy said. He added that the children had no injuries.

Moody, however, said the “danger to these children was real.”

“These types of bindings and blindfolds come into play when you’re talking about ... prisoners of war,” the prosecutor said.