PHOENIX -- Police say a Valley father murdered his teen son with an ax because he thought the boy was a demon.
David Sherrill's mom sent the police to her ex-husband's home in the neighborhood southwest of Maryland Avenue and 12th Street Tuesday afternoon.
She said her ex, Gary Reagan Sherrill, had picked up David on Monday for a scheduled visitation, but never brought him home to her. When requesting the "check welfare," she told the police she had tried to contact both Sherrill and David, but was unable to reach either one.
According to Phoenix police Sgt. Steve Martos, Sherrill originally told the officers who knocked on his door that David was not with him.
The officers were insistent, however, and the 51-year-old eventually allowed them inside. That's when they discovered David's body with "obvious signs of trauma." Martos said David had been stabbed and cut several times.
The officers detained Sherrill, handing him over to homicide detectives for questioning.
"Gary confessed to the murder and stated he was scared of his son and believed his son was a demon and was going to eat him," Martos wrote in a news release. "Gary confessed to striking his son with an ax as he was in fear of him."
According to court paperwork, Sherrill said he hit his son with the ax three or four times.
Officers searched the apartment and found the ax, as well as other "cutting implements."
Sherrill did not explain why he believed his son was a demon.
It's not clear how long Sherrill and David's mother had been divorced, nor is it known if Sherrill has a history of mental illness.
Neighbors said it's usually a quiet neighborhood, but Joe Harris described Sherrill as strange.
"It puts a pit in my stomach," Harris said. "It doesn't make me feel good. You don't want to live down the street from where a little kid was killed."
Police booked Sherrill on one count of first-degree murder.
Commissioner Alysson Abe set bond at $1 million and scheduled a preliminary hearing for Jan. 10.
An account has been set up at Wells Fargo under David's name for anyone who would like to help the family.