Megachurch elder charged with murder and torture of 11-year-old daughter

Mother and grandfather of Arabella McCormack, 11, charged with her torture and murder

Bevan Hurley
Friday 11 November 2022 16:11 GMT
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A Californian megachurch elder and her father have been charged with the torture and murder of her 11-year-old daughter.

Leticia McCormack, 49, and her father Stanley Tom, 75, pleaded not guilty when they appeared in the Superior Court of California in San Diego’s El Cajon suburb on Wednesday, the Associated Press reported.

The pair, and Mr Tom’s wife Adella Tom, 70, are also facing cruelty and torture charges in relation to the death of Arabella, 11, and the treatment of two younger sisters, aged 6 and 7.

The San Diego Sheriff’s Department said in a statement they responded to reports of a child in distress at a home in the 3300 block of Lakeview Drive in Spring Valley just before 2am on 30 August.

Arabella, who had bruises and signs of malnutrition, was rushed to hospital where her condition declined and she died, the sheriff’s office said.

Sheriff deputies contacted Arabella’s father Brian McCormack, a Border Patrol agent, who shot himself in front of officers at the home, the statement said.

According to the San Diego Union Tribune, the couple became foster parents to the three girls in 2017, before adopting them two years later.

The girls’ biological mother Torriana Florey told theUnion Tribune outside court on Wednesday that she lost custody of her three daughters due to a “domestic violence dispute” with their father.

“I couldn’t be the mom the courts wanted me to be, because I was learning,” Ms Florey said. 

Arabella McCormack, 11, was allegedly tortured and murdered by her mother and grandfather, authorities say
Arabella McCormack, 11, was allegedly tortured and murdered by her mother and grandfather, authorities say (San Diego Sheriff’s Department)
Leticia McCormack, a volunteer teacher at the Rock Church in San Diego, has been charged with her daughter’s murder
Leticia McCormack, a volunteer teacher at the Rock Church in San Diego, has been charged with her daughter’s murder (YouTube)

They were being homeschooled by their adoptive parents, she said.

The younger siblings have been placed in foster care.

Ms McCormack was a volunteer at the Rock Church in San Diego a mega church founded by former NFL player Miles McPherson, according to the Associated Press.

During a decade with the megachurch, she taught “Kingdom Life Encounter” encounters that instructed churchgoers how to model their lives after Jesus.

In a statement, the church said it had severed ties with Ms McCormack.

“We continue to grieve for Arabella and her sisters. We are so sorry that their family and friends are experiencing this unimaginable loss and pain,” the church said in a statement.

“The legal process will run its course, and we hope justice for Arabella and her sisters will be served. We are praying that God’s love and grace will bring comfort and healing.”

Ms McCormack was ordained as an elder at another church under the Assemblies of God denomination.

The ordination was transferred to the Rock Church in January 2022 and is in the process of being revoked, the Associated Press reported.

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