The exorcism of Janet Moses is another story where someone suffering from mental health issues suffered a so-called exorcism that caused their death. Unfortunately, this story is just as horrific as some others. It leaves many people wondering if a lack of access to mental health services is breeding more of these incidents across the world?
What Happened To Janet Moses?
Janet Moses was killed during a so-called exorcism in New Zealand. Janet believed someone was going to get her and tried to kill her family. Instead of seeking mental health services, forty of her family members gathered at her grandmother’s home. They then proceeded to surround Janet and stomped on her feet while chanting “Go with peace and love”. Janet was also subjected to drowning, as her family threw bowls of water at her while she was being restrained. Janet had trouble breathing but her family believed she was struggling with demons. Eventually, Janet died in her bed from drowning.
The case actually dates back to October 2007 and none of the family members involved were actually convicted. However, the tragedy led to a documentary, which investigated if the case was actually a callous murder opposed to the family believing they could help Janet.
Janet Moses’ History
Janet Moses was a mum of two young children. She found herself in an unhealthy relationship with a man who frequently cheated on her. In addition to that, she also suffered mentally after the recent death of her grandmother.
Moses’ family, who contributed to her death, believed Janet became possessed after the theft of a stone lion from a hotel. This event occurred weeks before Janet started to behave weirdly. However, once Janet showed signs of mental illness, that’s where it all went wrong.
Instead of getting proper mental healthcare or seeing a licensed practitioner, Janet was taken to a kaumātua, an elder of the Maori community, whose advice is regularly sought in these matters. Unfortunately, this advice would also lead to the death of the young woman. In fact, the kaumātua told the family that the lion brought an evil presence inside the home and caused Janet’s psychotic behavior.
Why Was The Family Not Convicted?
The subsequent court trial involved nine family members who faced manslaughter charges. Each of the family members pleaded not guilty to their charges. Their defence attorney claimed that the family believed Janet was genuinely possessed and that they only tried to help her. The trial lasted for almost a full month and mainly involved a discussion on consent for exorcism, more specifically, if Janet had given her consent for the exorcism.
Throughout the trial, the lawyer claimed the family loved Janet and only wished to help her. He also claimed that they paid a heavy price in return, the death of a loved one.
Even the documentary maker eventually agreed with the findings, stating:
“It’s recognised there are times when hysteria can take over and people are not in control of their actions, almost like being controlled by a substance. You’re not in your right mind. Nobody intended to murder anyone.”
“When they discovered she was dead, they couldn’t quite believe it themselves and blamed it on the demon, not themselves. “It wasn’t calculated, it wasn’t deliberate and it was coming from a place of love, not malice.”
The trial certainly brings forward more questions about intent. Even if the family did not intend to kill Janet, she still lost her life due to religious superstitions and a lack of mental healthcare access. Who in the end is held responsible? At the end of this trial, nobody truly paid for the death of Janet Moses. Perhaps more investigation is required into these types of cases where the thin gray line between mental illness, religious superstition and the reality of real proven demonic possession can be identified.