An Arizona woman suspected of killing her three young sons and wounding herself led a tumultuous life over the past decade, including domestic disputes with family members, inquiries from child-welfare investigators and attempts to collect child support from the fathers of two of the boys.
Police haven’t yet revealed her identity as she recovers from her injuries at a hospital, but court records and family members say 29-year-old Octavia Renee Rogers is the children’s mother.
Her older sister, Voniticia Nickerson, said she saw no signs her sibling was troubled. She described Rogers as a devoted mother whose life revolved around her boys, ages 2 months and 5 and 8 years old.
Rogers had an order of protection filed against her in 2006 for allegedly pushing her mother after Rogers was told to move out, court documents said.
The father of one of Rogers’ children was convicted of disorderly conduct after police say he pulled out a gun while the married couple was having an argument. And she twice went to court to make the fathers of her two oldest sons pay child support.
Nickerson said she’s at a loss for a reason her sister might have taken the boys’ lives.
“She always made sure that they never wanted and they were happy, that they had the best,” Nickerson said.
The boys’ bodies were discovered after the suspect’s brother came home from work Wednesday night to find her talking about God and saying she found the answer to life. Then she went inside her Phoenix home and locked the door behind her.
The brother forced his way in and found the woman had barricaded herself in another room. She eventually emerged with stab wounds across her abdomen and neck.
Police said the woman told her brother she hurt herself because she was pregnant, though they haven’t confirmed that.
Investigators later found the boys dead in a closet, with the baby inside a suitcase. A police spokesman has said they appeared to have been stabbed to death, and “parts of their bodies were dismembered.”
Police identified the baby as Avery Robinson, the oldest boy as Jaikare Rahaman and the other son as Jeremiah Adams.
Child welfare officials had previous contacts with the mother, saying investigators couldn’t locate the family in 2010 to check reports of a boy with a small abrasion on his forehead.
They said they investigated cases in 2011 and 2016 involving marijuana allegations in which they found no legal grounds to take the children into emergency care.
One allegation was substantiated, and the other was not, the state’s child welfare agency said.
The department takes seriously its responsibility to protect children, but its powers are limited, agency Director Greg McKay said. “We cannot predict the future, and people can at times do awful things,” he said in a statement.
Nickerson said her sister occasionally smoked marijuana but wasn’t a big drinker, didn’t do hard drugs and stayed out of trouble with the law.
Rogers was happy to have recently moved back to Phoenix, her hometown, after spending about a year and a half in Virginia, Nickerson said.
Court records from the protection order filed against Rogers in 2006 said her mother wanted her to take part in domestic violence counseling.
In the 2010 disorderly conduct case against her husband, Rogers told investigators at the scene that her husband had a gun, though his lawyer would later add he didn’t point it at anyone.
“He’s got a gun,” she was quoted in a court document as telling police. She later wrote a letter to the judge in the case seeking leniency for her husband.
Rogers, who married her husband in 2009 in Mobile, Alabama, sought a divorce in 2011, but her case was dismissed after she quit pushing the case in court.