Mom Accused of Killing 3-Year-Old by Forcing Her to Drink Bleach, Then Blaming ‘Voodoo’ Spell, May Face Death

Prosecutors in Florida filed a notice of intent to seek the death penalty for Joanne Zephir, who is charged with murder

<p>Osceola County Corrections</p> Joanne Zephir

Osceola County Corrections

Joanne Zephir

Prosecutors in Florida are seeking the death penalty for a mother who allegedly confessed to killing one daughter and injuring another by forcing them to drink bleach.

The Ninth Judicial Circuit State Attorney’s Office says in a release that it filed a notice of intent to seek the death penalty for Joanne Zephir, 36.

Zephir was originally arrested in May 2022 after she was found unconscious in her car outside a church in Poinciana, Fla. In the backseat was her 3-year-old daughter, who was later pronounced dead at a hospital, according to police. Zephir’s 8-year-old daughter was found in the roadway.

Osceola County Sheriff Marcos R. Lopez said at the time that Zephir blamed the incident on a "voodoo spell."

Zephir was wanted on charges of attempted murder after allegedly stabbing her husband hours before the incident with her daughters, the state attorney’s office says.

The sheriff's office previously said Zephir called a family member several hours later and confessed to killing her younger daughter, adding that "the 8-year-old was also going to die, and then she would kill herself," Lopez said.

She also allegedly admitted to authorities that she made her kids drink bleach before strangling her 3-year-old.

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A grand jury indicted Zephir in February on charges of first-degree murder with a weapon, attempted first-degree murder with a weapon and attempted felony murder with a weapon, prosecutors say.

It is not immediately clear if she has entered a plea in response to the indictment.

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