On June 12, 2012, Danielle Harkins was arrested for a type of student abuse not many would suspect to be under the list of teacher crimes. Harkins is the Florida teacher who forced students to participate in demonic rituals, specifically one involving fires and self-mutilation. It’s the kind of insane story about teachers who abuse their students that grips the nation for a millisecond before the news cycle turns over, but Danielle Harkins's crimes need further examination because of how strange they are. There are many stories about teachers with violent students, or the truly horrifying things teachers have to deal with, but in this case, it was the teacher committing a series of truly gruesome acts on her pupils.
Harkins was a literacy teacher working with a group of Florida teens. On June 9, 2012, she told seven teens they had demons inside them, and the only way to free themselves of these negative entities was to slice open their skin and then cauterize the wounds. While no one knows why she committed these harmful occult activities with her group of students, many cite her dissolving marriage, eventual divorce, and custody battle over her children as the catalyst for her unhinged rituals that would end in two students bleeding and badly burned.
After the ritual ended, no one ran home to tell their parents or called the cops; it appeared as if all of the students believed that what Mrs. Harkins was doing was completely normal. After the incident blew up in the press, many of the students present didn't even want to talk about the ritual or their former teacher. However, one of the students brought the ritual up to a friend after the night of the incident via text. That friend immediately told their parents, who called the police. It's possible if that one student hadn't told their friend, Harkins would have continued this pattern of abuse until someone died.
Before she was leading teenagers in blood rituals to cleanse their bodies of demonic entities, Harkins was reportedly a normal person. She taught literacy at a community center in St. Petersburg, FL, and was married with two kids. She was living the dream, but there was something awful brewing inside of her. Carolyn Chance, the administrator at the Lealman and Asian Neighborhood Family Center described Harkins as a "very good teacher." Chance said that she was "very intelligent, she was very skilled. Just recently she started exploring religion, but I didn't know anything about demons or anything like that."
After the story about her teenage blood ritual got out, Harkins was arrested on one count of child abuse and one count of aggravated battery. She was put on leave from her teaching position and held on a $55,000 bail. At the time of her arrest, police were hoping the students who were involved in the ritual would give them more information; if they were letting her cut them up and light them on fire, she was likely doing something else that they didn't know about. Unfortunately, none of the teens were talking, so no one knows what else she might have been doing. As of 2014, Harkins was released from prison on her own recognizance.
After serving six months total for child abuse and paying thousands of dollars in court and bond fees, Harkins was released from prison and just disappeared. A local Fox affiliate in St. Petersburg went to her house and rang her doorbell, but Harkins never answered. It's unlikely she ever will discuss what led her to cutting up her former students in a blood ritual on a pier.