Tampa, Florida: On Tuesday, May 10, the Osceola County Sheriff Marcos R. Lopez provided an update into a death investigation that began on Sunday, May 8 when they were called to a church parking lot on a report of a possible homicide.
The mother, 36-year-old Joanne Zephir was found in the driver's seat of the vehicle, unconscious. In the backseat of the vehicle, her three-year-old daughter was found unconscious in her car seat, and her eight-year-old child was located in the roadway near the entrance to the church.
All three were transported to the hospital for treatment.
Upon arrival, the three-year-old was pronounced dead at the hospital. The eight-year-old was treated and released into the care of another family member.
Zephir was treated and then transported to the Osceola County Sheriff's Office on an outstanding warrant for aggravated battery and attempted murder out of Orange County.
Before the incident on Sunday, Zephir reportedly confessed to a family member about the undisclosed incident in Orange County. She is said to have stated that she would turn herself in, but wished to spend some time with her children first.
Several hours later, Zephir is said to have called the family member and confessed to having killed her three-year-old daughter saying, "the eight-year-old was also going to die, and then she would kill herself," Lopez stated during the press conference.
Zephir confessed that she had forced her daughters to drink bleach from a "makeshift drinking glass" before also strangling her three-year-old daughter.
Zephir told investigators that "The reason for doing this to her children was because the victim in Orange County must have put a voodoo spell on her, making her harm her children," Lopez relayed.
Zephir remains in custody at the Osceola County Jail on charges of premeditated murder, attempted murder and aggravated child abuse.