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Last Updated: Tuesday, 26 August, 2003, 11:41 GMT 12:41 UK
Boy's 'exorcism' death ruled homicide
Terrance Cottrell
Cottrell's mother reportedly thought her son was possessed
The death of an autistic eight-year-old boy during a prayer service to drive out the evil spirits supposedly causing his condition has been ruled a homicide.

Terrance Cottrell, from Milwaukee in the US state of Wisconsin, suffocated after his chest was restricted, the local coroner said.

Members of the Faith Temple Church of the Apostolic Faith had been meeting regularly to pray over the young boy after his mother reportedly became concerned that he had been possessed by an evil spirit.

Local news reports said the members had wrapped him in sheets and held him down during the service last Friday.

However during the service - which his mother attended - they noticed the boy was not breathing and called paramedics, who failed to revive him.

Police sources told the Milwaukee Channel television station on Tuesday that the boy had been found dripping with sweat and with marks on his arms.

The brother of the church's pastor, Ray Hemphill, who was also present at the ceremony, was arrested shortly after the incident on suspicion of physically abusing a child, local police said.


The church pastor, David Hemphill, said that his church members had done nothing wrong, adding that they had only prayed for God to "take this spirit that was tormenting this little boy to death".

However the boy's father, Terrance Cottrell Senior, condemned the church's actions.

"Their whole theory was wrong, everything they did was wrong," he told the station.

"It was brainwashing... it was evil and not good and not of God."

Terrance's severe autism meant he could talk little and left him with difficulties in communicating and relating to people around him.

In interviews with local newspapers, neighbours of the Cottrell family alleged that Terrance hated being touched and said that having people restrain him would likely have caused him a great deal of stress.

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