Cagayan De Oro, Philippines: In what has been called both a ritual killing and a death ritual by local media, 84-year-old Teofila Camungay Cabusas was thrown into a bonfire by her family members on the night of Friday, August 26, 2022.
Neighbors heard her screams and managed to pull her from the fire and then took her to a hospital. Five hours later she was pronounced deceased, having suffered third degree burns over her entire body.
The Balingasag police chief Major Teodoro de Oro disclosed that seven of 11 suspects were in custody and had been charged with parricide. The suspects in custody include four of Teofila's children, five grand-children, and a live-in-partner of one of her daughters as well as that partner's brother.
Among the grand-children arrested was 22-year-old Crisanto Ercilla who is reported to be the leader of the cult that the family was attempting to recruit Teofila into.
According to statements from investigators, family told them that Ercilla was possessed by the spirit of Tomas Eugenico, the founder of the Philippine Benevolent Christion Missionary Group.
"The suspects said they committed the crime because the grandmother refused to recognize Cresanto as the leader of the new religious group called Messenger of God," de Oro said in a statement.
He said that investigators learned that the family had been dancing around a bonfire chanting intelligible words before the murder.
"It was in the middle of the ritual that Crisanto Ercilla reportedly ordered to throw the matriarch on the fire for her sins," de Oro explained.
Law enforcement disclosed that Teifula had recently received a pension of 9,000 PHP, ($158 USD) which she had not shared with the family. Ercilla is said to have blamed her for the hardships that the family was experiencing.
According to the Manila Bulletin some of the suspects arrested told law enforcement that prior to the ritual Ercilla had sprayed an unknown liquid on them in order to bring them under his influence to follow his commands.
The Manila Bulletin goes on to state that when law enforcement attempted to question Ercilla, he refused to cooperate and spoke in a language that only he could understand.
Law enforcement is still seeking the remaining four suspects.
The Philippine Benevolent Christian Missionary Association is a splinter group of the Philippine Benevolent Missionaries Association which was founded by a man who was trained by voices to read and write in various languages in order to interpret ancient mysteries and made predictions for the future based on the Akashic records.
The Facebook group for this offshoot makes it clear that they are not another flavor of Christianity as they state they are "Presenting the faith in the Holy Spirit incarnate Master Tomas D. Eugenio, Sr., to those who are interested and hear the voice calling the "other sheep" who are scattered around the world awaiting the voice of their shepherd."