The children's mother, 29-year-old Shaynthia Gardner, has been charged with four counts of first-degree murder in perpetration of a felony aggravated child neglect, four counts of first-degree murder in perpetration of a felony aggravated child abuse, four counts of aggravated child neglect or endangerment and four counts of aggravated child abuse.
The mother of four children who were fatally stabbed in a gated Memphis community is being held for questioning by the Shelby County police department.
The Shelby County Sheriff’s Office responded to a 911 call alerting them of the incident that occurred around 1 p.m. at the Green of Irene apartment complex near Southwind High School at Hacks Cross Road and East Shelby Drive.
Sources identified the mother as 29-year-old Shanthyia Gardner, who was detained at Shelby County Jail, though no charges have, as of yet, been listed against her.
Authorities have not yet released the ages of the children but according to a sheriff spokesman, deputies at the scene called them babies. That and the testimony of a neighbor, Sean Ahearn, indicated the children were all younger than 6 years of age. A 7-year-old boy seemed to have escaped, sources told Commercial Appeal
"This is an egregious act of evil that has shocked us to our core. I will never understand how anyone can do this,” Shelby County Sheriff Bill Oldham said. “One of the most difficult questions in any investigation is always, ‘Why did this happen?’”
The deaths have dismayed the neighbors and county officials as they tried to understand what happened in the apartment located near a green golf course.
Resident Patricia Johnson burst into tears when she heard about the killings.
"I can't fathom that," she said. "What would babies do to make you do that?"
A church vigil for the slain children took place Friday night and a news conference is scheduled to take place at Saturday 10 a.m.