Shanynthia Gardner, 29, has been charged with four counts of first degree murder for allegedly killing her three daughters and one son — all who were under the age of 5, The Associated Press wrote. The four children died due to “severe lacerations to the throat.”
Memphis officials have identified the victims as 4-year-old Tallen Gardner; 3-year-old Sya Gardner; 2 year-old Sahvi Gardner; and 6-month old Yahzi Gardner. A fifth child from an earlier marriage, 7-year-old Dallen Clayton, escaped the attack, fled the scene and told the neighbor that his mother stabbed his siblings.
Police later found Gardner with a large knife in her hand when they got to the scene.
“This is a terrible act, an egregious act that has shocked, I believe, the community, and has shocked our staff to the core,” Shelby County Sheriff Bill Oldham said Saturday.
According to an affidavit, Gardner called her current husband and admitted to killing their four children. Why she killed her children is unknown, as the police won’t share with the public what was her motive. But Sheriff Oldham told the press that he believes investigators are trying to figure out if Gardner has mental health problems, the AP noted.
Sonya Clayton, Gardner’s former mother-in-law, told the AP that she was horrified when she heard the news and that this was out of character for Gardner.
“She was a sweet young lady. What happened, I don’t understand,” Clayton said. “I know this is the work of the devil. I know this is not Shanynthia. And I pray and I love Shanynthia,” she added.
In addition to facing murder charges, Gardner has also been charged with four counts of aggravated child neglect or endangerment and four counts of aggravated child abuse. She is currently being held without bail.
We are praying for those babies and send our deepest condolences to the children’s family. So sad.