• The mother is accused of forcing her daughters aged 3 and 8 to drink bleach
  • The older girl survived but the toddler died at the hospital
  • Officials determined the child's cause of death was compression of the neck

Osceola County -- A Florida mother, who allegedly forced her children to drink bleach and choked one of them, has been charged with premeditated murder.

Officials obtained an arrest warrant for the woman Monday, and she is being held at the Osceola County Jail.

Joanna Zephir, 36, allegedly forced her two daughters aged 3 and 8 to drink bleach from a makeshift glass and choked the toddler. A family member informed authorities about the abuse, which occurred earlier this month, on May 8, according to WESH 2 News.

Responding officers arrived at the Poinciana Pentecostal Church of God in Osceola County and found the mother and her two daughters passed out. All three were rushed to the hospital.

While the 8-year-old girl survived, the younger one did not make it, officials said.

When questioned by investigators, Zephir claimed she was acting under a “voodoo spell” that someone must have put on her and had planned to kill herself as well.

“The suspect said the reason for doing this to her children is because (someone) must have put a voodoo spell on her, making her harm her children,” Sheriff Marcos Lopez previously said during a news conference, News 6 WKMG reported.

Lopez had also said the mother confessed to her actions and was planning to turn herself in but waited so she could spend time with her daughters first.

“Before she turned herself in, she wanted to have time with her children,” Lopez reportedly said at the news conference held earlier this month. “She took both of her children and left the family member’s residence. Several hours later, she called a family member and told her that she had killed her 3-year-old and the 8-year-old was also going to die and then she would kill herself.”

Zephir was previously charged with attempted murder and aggravated child abuse, the sheriff’s office said. The Orange County Medical Examiner’s Office later discovered that the toddler’s death was triggered by the compression of the neck.

Officials obtained an arrest warrant for Zephir on a premeditated murder charge after the toddler’s cause of death was determined.

The mother is currently being held with no bond at the Osceola County Jail.

Representative image Credit: Pixabay / fujikama