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Mother accused of stabbing four kids to death now in mental hospital

(Fox 13 Memphis)

UPDATE: (July 5) The Latest on the case of a mother charged with stabbing her four children to death in suburban Memphis (all times local):

1 p.m.

Authorities say a mother charged with fatally stabbing four of her children has been taken to a mental health institute after a brief court appearance.

Shelby County Sheriff's Office spokesman Earle Farrell says 29-year-old Shanynthia Gardner was taken to Memphis Mental Health Institute after she appeared before a judge in a video hearing Tuesday.

The institute is a state psychiatric hospital where most patients have severe and persistent mental illness and are hospitalized on an emergency, involuntary basis, according to a state website. Farrell said he did not know what treatment she was receiving.

Gardner did not answer a judge's questions during her hearing. She has been charged with first-degree murder in the deaths of her three daughters and one son -- all younger than 5 -- in a suburban Memphis apartment.

Gardner is being held without bond. A lawyer hired to represent her declined to comment on the case.

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10:30 a.m.

An attorney has been hired to represent a Tennessee woman charged with fatally stabbing four of her children but declined to discuss the case.

Craig Morton says he is representing 29-year-old Shanynthia Gardner, who has been charged with first-degree murder in the deaths of her three daughters and one son, all younger than 5.

A judge waived Gardner's arraignment during a Tuesday hearing at which she appeared by video. Outside court, Morton declined to talk about the case.

Shelby County sheriff's officials say Gardner stabbed her children Friday afternoon at her apartment. Court documents say she acknowledged killing them in a phone conversation to their father.

A fifth child, age 7, escaped the attack.

Authorities have not said why they think she killed her children. Investigators are looking into whether she has mental health problems

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UPDATE: (July 3) -- Sheriff's officials in Tennessee say deputies found a large butcher knife with what appeared to be blood on it in an apartment where a mother killed her four children by cutting their throats, according to the Associated Press.

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UPDATE: (July 2) -- MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) -- The Latest on the fatal stabbings of four young children in Tennessee (all times local):

Authorities in Tennessee say the mother of four children found fatally stabbed has been charged with first-degree murder.

Shanynthia Gardner of Memphis faces four counts of first degree murder while committing aggravated child neglect; four counts of first degree murder while committing aggravated child abuse; four counts of aggravated child neglect or endangerment; and four counts of aggravated child abuse.

Shelby County Sheriff Bill Oldham says the victims were a 4-year-old boy; a 3-year-old girl; a 2-year-old girl; and a 6-month-old girl.

A 7-year-old boy escaped the attack. All five children were Gardner's.

Deputies were called to an apartment complex in unincorporated Shelby County shortly before 1 p.m. Friday. They took Gardner into custody after finding the children's bodies.

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- Shelby County Sheriff's Office spokesman Earle Farrell told Fox 17 affiliate in Memphis that a neighbor called law enforcement after becoming aware of the incident around 12:50 p.m. The incident happened at The Greens at Irene apartment complex, located in the 4700 block of Southern Hill Drive.

When deputies arrived on the scene, they found four children dead. Earl Farrell described them as young children and "babies," but exact ages could not be given at the time.

The mother, who is suspected of stabbing the children to death, is in custody. Earl Farrell could not say if she was still on the scene or if she had been transported to jail.

Deputies are continuing to process the scene.


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