Man Fatally Shot for Burning Child Possessed by a Demon

SEBRING, Florida – A convicted felon was fatally shot by law enforcement after attacking a deputy with a metal rod and setting fire to his girlfriend’s 9-year-old son, whom he believed to be “possessed by a demon,” according to authorities.

The incident occurred on Tuesday around 4 p.m. in Sebring when first responders were called to a report of a suspicious roadside debris fire. Upon arrival, they were confronted by Richard Ham, 39, who was armed with a pair of metal poles, as stated in a press release from the Highland County Sheriff’s Office.

Ham and his girlfriend, Lakenya Phillips, 30, were allegedly burning the belongings of Phillips’ son in an attempt to rid him of the belief that he was possessed. Witnesses revealed that Ham pushed the boy into the fire and covered him with a flaming blanket. However, the child managed to escape with minor injuries.

When deputies arrived at the scene, they ordered Ham to surrender, but he refused to comply and was subsequently tased. Shockingly, the Taser had no effect on Ham, who then struck a deputy with one of the metal rods. In response, a deputy fired their weapon, resulting in Ham being fatally wounded.

Ham was transported to a nearby hospital, where he later died, while the injured deputy received medical treatment and was released.

Phillips, who had been reported missing and endangered along with her son in Wichita, Kansas, two weeks prior, was taken into custody. It remains unclear how the couple ended up nearly 1,500 miles away in Sebring, Florida.

When questioned, the 9-year-old boy, who is now under the care of the Department of Children and Families, disclosed that he had not received proper care for at least ten days. He also claimed that both his mother and her boyfriend used drugs habitually and that Ham had threatened him with a large knife, allegedly stating that he had used it before to kill someone. Authorities are collaborating with law enforcement agencies in other states to investigate this claim further.

During Phillips’ court appearance, prosecutors informed the judge that they would be seeking a felony murder charge against her, asserting that her actions contributed to Ham’s death. She was subsequently ordered to be held without bond.

The sheriff’s office discovered multiple firearms and drugs in the vehicle Ham and Phillips were traveling in.