She stood there, injured and holding a knife, outside her Florida home.
That image is horrifying enough, but nothing compared to what police say they found inside.
All three of that woman’s children were unresponsive when officers encountered them Friday evening, including a 7-year-old girl who was reported dead soon thereafter, according to the Palm Bay police department. One of them, a 6-year-old boy, died later. A 5-month-old boy is seriously injured.
Their mother, identified by police as Jessica Lacey McCarty, didn’t comply to officers’ request that she drop her knife. So officers fired several “less lethal” bean bag rounds at her, after which she was taken into custody, according to police.
And on Saturday, Palm Bay police announced on the department’s Facebook page that McCarty was being charged with two counts of murder in connection with her children’s deaths. The 33-year-old woman is also facing an attempted murder charge regarding her infant son, who was in critical condition at a nearby hospital.
After initially being taken to a hospital after suffering what police called “non-life threatening injuries,” McCarty was moved to the Brevard County Detention Center, where she’s being held without bond.
She will face a judge within 24 hours to address the charges, according to the Palm Bay post from around midday Saturday.
“A crime like this is beyond words,” police Capt. Josh Resh said. “It is unthinkable that someone could do this to innocent children.”
Authorities’ first indication of trouble came in a 911 call just before 6 p.m. Friday from a woman claiming to have killed her three children. McCarty’s boyfriend — the father of one of the children — placed his own call to police seconds later, after arriving home to the grim scene.
How and why did the children die? Authorities are waiting on results from an autopsy, scheduled for Sunday, to definitively figure that all out.
“We are still trying to verify the sequence of events, how and why they occurred,” Palm Bay police Lt. Mario Augello said. “… This is still a very active criminal investigation.”
Regardless, the episode shook those in the victims’ neighborhood in Palm Bay, which is about 70 miles southeast of Orlando on Florida’s Atlantic coast.
It started with the sirens and about 10 armed officers coming down the street, telling him to get inside, neighbor Davion Lewis CNN affiliate WESH.
But for neighbor Becky Johnson, learning why they had come was even more horrifying.
“It’s inexcusable, unthinkable, … shocking,” Johnson said. “You think of your own kids.”