Danielle Harkins is accused of burning, cutting teens to expel their demons

4:08 PM, Jun 13, 2012   |    comments
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St. Petersburg, Florida -- A teacher at a neighborhood family center was arrested after police say she burned and cut teens during a bizarre ritual to remove their demons.

Authorities say Danielle Harkins brought the group of teens to an area near the St. Pete Pier Saturday before dusk. They gathered around a small fire and that's when she told them to cut their skin to let the evil spirits out. After they cut their skin, she said they would need to burn the wounds to ensure they would not return.

Police say all of the seven teens involved were of an Asian background and knew Harkins from their time at the center in years past. Harkins is a literary teacher at the Lealman and Asian Neighborhood Family Center and has been with the center for the past 4-and-a-half years.

Police were alerted to the incident after one of the teens sent a text message to a friend, who showed it to their parents.

During their investigation, detectives learned Harkins poured perfume on one teen's hand and lit it on fire. The teen suffered from second degree burns.

Harkins encouraged another 17-year-old to cut into his back to "get rid of an evil tick" and then burn himself to prevent anymore evil spirits from entering his body.

Harkins, 35, has been arrested on child abuse charges and is being held on $55,000 bail. She has also been suspended from her job without pay.

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