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Guyana cops look into teen's death after exorcism

CANAL NUMBER TWO, Guyana (AP) — A 15-year-old girl has died after neighbors and a local pastor tried to treat her convulsions with an exorcism at a church, and Guyanese police said Friday they are investigating.

Sangeeta Persaud began to convulse Sunday as she drank tea for breakfast at her grandmother's home in Canal Number Two, a farming village west of the capital, Georgetown, the grandmother told The Associated Press.

Chaitranie Ramotar said she became worried and called the girl's mother, who brought the pastor to the house.

"I experienced the same thing at age 12," Nankumarie Jaikissoon, the teen's mother, told the AP. "That is why I did not rush her to the hospital. My heart did not tell me to rush her to the hospital."

The pastor, Ewart Cummings, said he decided to take the girl to his small, concrete church, where he and several elders spent five hours praying for her as they pressed on her stomach and head. They also made her drink an anointing oil, he told the AP.

At times, the teen would bark and make other strange noises, Cummings said.

"I did nothing wrong," he said. "I just responded as pastor of the church. ... Ungodly people would not understand certain things like driving out spirits."

Cummings said he drove the girl to the hospital around 5 p.m. because she had calmed down but was weak. She died at 10 p.m.

Police Commander Colin West said results from a preliminary autopsy were inconclusive but an investigation continues. No one has been charged.

On Thursday, Cummings presided at the girl's funeral as the child's mother, father and other relatives shouted accusations at one another and at the pastor. Police were summoned to the funeral and ordered the pastor to issue a quick prayer to end the service.

Cummings said he had previously prayed for the girl's mother and grandmother because they complained that evil spirits disrupted their sleep and tried to injure them.

Persaud, who turned 15 in mid-March, was the only girl among four siblings. She was temporarily sharing a bed with her grandmother in a wood shack as her mother waited for plumbing and electricity to be installed at their house.

Jaikissoon said her daughter had suffered from a bad cold for several years and was recently tested for tuberculosis. The teen was supposed to go back to the hospital April 19 for results from blood tests and X-rays taken of her chest.