Mom Fatally Stabbed 11-Year-Old “Demon Son”

An Ohio woman, aged 36, was convicted of capital murder for the brutal killing of her 11-year-old son in a Mississippi hotel bathroom three years ago. Latina Marie Oates claimed she believed her son, Joshua Oates, was possessed by a demon when she attacked him with a metal bar she thought was an “ancient dagger.” The incident occurred while his two younger brothers were present in the room.

The verdict was delivered by a jury in Jones County, Mississippi, on Thursday. Following the guilty verdict, Circuit Court Judge Dal Williamson sentenced Oates to life imprisonment in a state correctional facility without the possibility of parole. The jury dismissed the options of declaring Oates not guilty due to insanity or not guilty but still a threat to society.

Oates’ defense team argued throughout the trial that she was experiencing a psychotic break when she killed her son. A forensic psychologist, Dr. Robert Storer, testified on behalf of the defense earlier in the week. He stated that Oates was unaware that her actions were wrong at the time of the incident, as reported by the Laurel Leader-Call.

Dr. Storer shared details of his conversations with Oates about the night of the attack. He testified that Oates had gone to her car before the attack, smoked a cigarette or marijuana, and retrieved a backpack containing the metal bar she believed was an “ancient dagger.” She then returned to the hotel bathroom, filled the tub with water, and threw in a piece of toilet paper she had used, claiming to have turned the water into “holy water.”

Oates told Dr. Storer that she attempted to attack Joshua while he was in bed, claiming his “eyes were red, he was growling, he was not human anymore.” She initially tried to stab him in the heart, but he woke up before she could. She then dragged him into the bathroom, broke her rosary in the process, which she took as a sign of a demon’s presence, and then drowned and killed him.

The assault on Joshua was savage, resulting in over 60 wounds. Oates’ two other sons reportedly told authorities they heard Joshua pleading with his mother, asking, “Why are you doing this?” as reported by Laurel, Mississippi NBC and ABC affiliate WDAM-TV.

Oates was apprehended in March 2020 after she took her three children from their Ohio home and drove to Mississippi without informing her husband of their destination. Surveillance footage from March 17, 2020, showed Oates and her two younger children leaving the Hampton Inn in Laurel. Shortly after their departure, authorities discovered Joshua’s body in their hotel room and issued an arrest warrant for Oates. She was later arrested in New Orleans.

During the trial, Oates’ husband testified that his wife had taken their two surviving children to New Orleans because of Marie Laveau, a renowned voodoo practitioner from the 1800s who lived in the city, as reported by The Columbus Dispatch.