Vilma Trujillo Garcia died early on Tuesday at a hospital in Nicaraguan capital Managua, after suffering burns over 80 percent of her body. She had been horribly tortured in a “religious” ceremony.
The Washington Post reports that an evangelical pastor named Juan Gregorio Rocha Romero claimed to have had a “divine vision” that Garcia, who was 25, needed healing and that he’d received instructions to cure her. Garcia was stripped naked, her hands and feet were tied and she was thrown into the fire.
The pastor and three others were arrested in conjunction with the attack. Speaking to local media, the pastor said Garcia threw herself into the fire because “she was demonized,” then suggested she actually fell into it as the demon was leaving her body. Garcia was found by her 15-year-old sister in a ravine near a river about 9 hours after the attack, where she was allegedly left by her tormentors.
Reports about how Romero knew Garcia vary. CBS News reports that her husband, Reynaldo Peralta Rodriguez, with whom she had two children, said she attacked people with a machete and was subsequently taken into the church and perhaps held captive. Univision, Jezebel’s parent company, spoke with women’s rights advocate Herenia Amaya, as reported by the Washington Post. Amaya is advising the family, and confirmed that the woman had “mental health problems” and was essentially kidnapped.
Amaya told Univision that many remote locations are controlled by religious sects like Romero’s Assemblies of God (though the organization issued a statement distancing themselves from the pastor). Rodriguez did tell the press that his wife was “not demonized.” He said, “What they did to her was witchcraft.”