A mother has been charged with stabbing to death her four children in a Memphis suburb on Friday afternoon.
Shanynthia Gardner, 29, has been charged with four counts of first degree murder associated with aggravated child abuse, four counts of first degree murder in association with aggravated child neglect, as well as four additional counts each of aggravated child abuse and aggravated child neglect or endangerment, the Memphis Commercial Appeal reports.
Police were called to a Shelby County apartment complex just before 1 p.m. on Friday, where they found the four murdered children—all under the age of six—inside one of the units. A source told the paper that another child—a 7-year-old—managed to escape. From WMC Action:
“A 911 call was placed from the scene that said a stabbing had taken place,” Shelby County Sheriff’s Office spokesperson Earle Farrell said. “Deputies got there and found four small children. They checked the pulse and found none.”
Shelby County Sheriff Bill Oldham told reporters that it’s unclear whether anyone else was present at the time of the murders. Police also questioned the children’s father, but concluded he was not at home when the attack occurred:
“Our investigation is in a very preliminary place at this point, we will continue to work that until we can determine and be able to answer as many questions as we can,” Oldham said. “We are certainly going to offer our condolences to the family and our prayers because at this point in time this community needs exactly that, we need prayer.”
I’ve seen a lot of bad stuff in 33 years, but this is the worst,” said Mark Dunbar, Shelby County assistant chief deputy, told the Appeal.
The Department of Child Services has no prior history with the family.