UPDATE: A Georgia girl who survived being stabbed by her mother has now returned home

LAWRENCEVILLE, Ga. (WJBF) – A Georgia girl who survived a stabbing attack is now home with relatives.

It’s been three weeks since police say she watched her mother stab to death her father and four siblings.

Diana Romero was in the intensive care unit (ICU) for two weeks.

On July 6, 2017, Gwinnett County police say her mother Isabel Martinez stabbed her husband and four other children to death.

Diana is now in the care of her uncle.


LAWRENCEVILLE, Ga. (AP) — A woman charged with killing four of her young children and their father smiled and flashed a double thumbs up to news cameras during her first court appearance Friday before telling a judge she doesn’t want an attorney.

Isabel Martinez, 33, appeared before Gwinnett County Magistrate Court Judge Michael Thorpe a day after police said she stabbed the five to death and seriously injured another child at her home outside Atlanta. The injured child, a 9-year-old girl, survived but remained hospitalized with injuries police described as serious.

Before the hearing began, Martinez sat with other inmates and struck poses for cameras — smiling, giving the thumbs up, putting her hands in a prayer position and spreading her arms out wide.

As Judge Thorpe listed the charges against her — five counts of malice murder, five counts of murder and six counts of aggravated assault — Martinez smiled, shook her head “no” and wagged her finger at him. The judge advised her sharply not to perform for the cameras.

When Thorpe informed her of her right to have an attorney, she said through a Spanish-language interpreter, that she doesn’t want one. She later added that her attorney will always be the people and her faith.

Thorpe advised Martinez to hire a lawyer or to allow one to be appointed for her.

“What prompts a person to take the life of such innocent children and her spouse is something we may never understand,” Gwinnett County police said in a statement. “This is a horrendous crime not only for the victims but for the extended family, neighborhood and community.”

Psychologists and others who study cases of mothers accused of killing their children say it’s not as uncommon as people might believe. But media coverage often focuses on dramatic cases, such as Andrea Yates who was found not guilty by reason of insanity for the 2001 drowning deaths of her five children in her suburban Houston home.

Other cases get less attention, as when a woman kills a newborn or in children’s deaths blamed on neglect, said Cheryl Meyer, co-author of two books on mothers who have killed children based on about 1,000 cases during the 1990s.

That amounts to roughly one death every three days. If anything, the total based on media reports at the time underestimates the reality, said Meyer, a psychology professor at Wright State University in Ohio.

In cases when mothers kill intentionally, Meyer said there is often another influence, such as mental health issues, postpartum depression or the loss of a close loved one.

“We like to classify these women as pariahs, that they aren’t at all like us,” Meyer said. “I found that was not the case.”

Some neighbors in the small, largely Hispanic neighborhood in Loganville, about 30 miles (48 kilometers) east of Atlanta, said they had no clue anything was amiss in the home until police mobbed the scene Thursday morning. The neighbors said the Spanish-speaking family had moved to the community recently, and their children seemed happy playing with other neighborhood kids.

Victoria Nievs said Martinez had recently suffered the death of her father.

Gwinnett County Police Cpl. Michele Pihera confirmed that the 911 call came from a woman who was inside the home at 4:47 a.m. Thursday to report a stabbing. Police believe Martinez made that call.

Pihera said the caller was speaking Spanish, which initially made it difficult for 911 operators to communicate with her. The county sheriff’s office said Martinez is on a hold for US Immigration and Customs Enforcement but didn’t provide further details.

The hospitalized girl, Diana Romero, was in serious but stable condition Thursday evening, police said.

The four children killed were identified as Isabela Martinez, 10; Dacota Romero, 7; Dillan Romero, 4; and Axel Romero, 2. Their slain father was Martin Romero, 33, Pihera said.

Early indications are that a knife was used to attack the five, though a medical examiner will make the final determination about the cause of death, she said.


GWINNETT COUNTY, Ga. (ABC NEWS/AP) – A woman charged with killing four of her young children and their father is due in court Friday morning, one day after police say she stabbed the five to death and seriously injured another child at a home outside Atlanta.

Authorities in Georgia charged 33-year-old Isabel Martinez on Thursday with five counts of malice murder, five counts of murder and six counts of aggravated assault, hours after police said she called 911 to report the killings from the home the family shared.

A fifth child, a 9-year-old girl, survived but remained hospitalized with injuries described by police as serious.

“What prompts a person to take the life of such innocent children and her spouse is something we may never understand,” Gwinnett County police said in a statement. “This is a horrendous crime not only for the victims but for the extended family, neighborhood and community.”

Psychologists and others who study cases of mothers accused of killing their children say it’s not as uncommon as people might believe. But media coverage often focuses on dramatic cases, such as Andrea Yates who was found not guilty by reason of insanity for the 2001 drowning deaths of her five children.

Other cases get less attention, as when a woman kills a newborn or in children’s deaths blamed on neglect, said Cheryl Meyer, co-author of two books on mothers who have killed children based on about 1,000 cases during the 1990s.

That amounts to one death every three days. If anything, the total based on media reports at the time underestimates the reality, said Meyer, a psychology professor at Wright State University in Ohio.

In cases when mothers kill intentionally, Meyer said there is often another influence, such as mental health issues, postpartum depression or the loss of a close loved one. Yates’ attorneys, for instance, said she had severe postpartum psychosis at the time she drowned her children, including her 6-month-old daughter.

“We like to classify these women as pariahs, that they aren’t at all like us,” Meyer said. “I found that was not the case.”

Isabel Martinez was “immediately” detained after the bodies were found inside the home in Loganville, about 30 miles (48 kilometers) east of Atlanta, Gwinnett County Police Cpl. Michele Pihera told reporters at the scene Thursday morning. Authorities haven’t said if Martinez was injured and or discussed a motive.

“Right now we believe we have everybody involved in this crime,” Pihera said.

Pihera confirmed that the 911 call came from a woman who was inside the home at 4:47 a.m. Thursday to report a stabbing. Police believe Martinez made that call.

Pihera said the caller was speaking Spanish, which initially made it difficult for 911 operators to communicate with her. The county sheriff’s office said Martinez is on a hold for US Immigration and Customs Enforcement but didn’t provide further details.

The hospitalized girl, Diana Romero, was in serious but stable condition Thursday evening, police said in a brief update on the case.

The four children killed were identified as Isabela Martinez, 10; Dacota Romero, 7; Dillan Romero, 4; and Axel Romero, 2. Their slain father was Martin Romero, 33, Pihera said.

Early indications are that a knife was used to attack the five, though a medical examiner will make the final determination about the cause of death, she said.

One 2014 analysis of FBI data found there are around 500 cases per year of parents arrested for killing their children. The study found that contact weapons such as a bat or edged weapons such as knives were rarely used in the cases studied. Beating, choking and drowning were most common.

It’s also unusual for a woman to kill an entire family rather than her children alone, Meyer said, adding that she couldn’t think of a single comparable case.

Some neighbors in the small, largely Hispanic neighborhood said they had no clue anything was amiss in the home until police mobbed the scene Thursday morning. The neighbors said the Spanish-speaking family had moved to the community recently, and their children seemed happy playing with other neighborhood kids.

Victoria Nievs said the children’s mother had recently suffered the death of her father.

Jim Hollandsworth is spokesman at The Path Project, a nonprofit organization that runs an after-school program that the family’s children participated in. He said the family had been in the community for a few months. While the children spoke English as a second language, he said, they were fluent.

“It’s awful. It’s devastating. Everyone is in complete shock,” he said. “The kids were engaged in what we’re doing. They were happy. They were fantastic kids with a bright future.”

———

Associated Press writer Jeff Martin in Atlanta contributed to this report.


GWINNETT COUNTY, Ga. (WSB-TV) – Gwinnett County police said a man and four children were found stabbed to death in a Loganville home Thursday morning.

When officers arrived at the home on Emory Lane, they found the victims dead. A fifth child was taken to the hospital with serious injuries.

Police believe the killings occurred between 2 a.m. and 5 a.m.

The victims were identified by police as Martin Romero, 33, Isabela Martinez, 10, Dacota Romero, 7, Dillan Romero, 4, and Axel Romero, 2.

Diana Romero, 9, is in serious, but stable condition at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta.

The mother of the children, identified as Isabelle Martinez, 33, has been charged with 5 counts of murder. Police said she made the 911 call Thursday morning.

She is being held in the Gwinnett County jail without bond.

“The suspect we have in custody is the wife/mother of the victims involved,” said Gwinnett County Police spokesperson Michele Pihera.

Jim Hollandsworth runs Path Project, a local nonprofit that works with children in the area, and told Channel 2’s Tony Thomas that the family had just moved into the area a few months ago.

“The kids were fantastic kids. They had tons to live for and a future ahead of them, so it’s awful and devastating,” he said.

Neighbors said the victims’ family is having a hard time processing what happened.

 

“They don’t know what to do, where to go, what to believe,” neighbor Debra Klingman said. 

Neighbors said Martinez was depressed over her father’s death, but otherwise seemed to be a loving mother and wife.

“She seemed so normal, like a regular mother,” said neighbor Letty Perez. “She was good, went to our church last weekend. She was there with us.”

When Channel 2’s Liz Artz asked Perez if she thought the suspect was a good mother, she replied, “Yes she was a good mother, definitely a good mother.”

The Gwinnett County Police Department said this crime was “horrendous.”

Channel 2 Action News’ cameras were rolling as family gathered in the street and hugged. Perez said Martinez was depressed over the death of her father in Mexico.

“She said her dad passed away months ago, she was in depression and we go to her house and pray sometimes for her dad,” Perez said.

One neighbor said the family hadn’t been seen all Wednesday. It was so unusual they sent a cousin to check on them around 4 p.m.

“One of the cousins came and knocked on door, no one answered… suspicious,” the neighbor said.

Family members have set up a GoFundMe page if you would like to help.


 

GWINNETT COUNTY, Ga. (WSB-TV) – Gwinnett County police said a man and four children were found stabbed to death in a Loganville home Thursday morning.

When officers arrived at the home on Emory Lane, they found the victims dead. A fifth child was taken to the hospital with serious injuries.

The mother of the children has been detained, according to police.

Police said “specifics on the ages of the children or a motive for this horrendous crime is still unknown.”

The woman is being questioned at the Gwinnett County Police Department.

Neighbors told Channel 2’s Liz Artz that the victims are toddlers at the youngest, and the oldest is around 7 years old. She was told they moved here about a month ago from Illinois.

Police spokesperson Michele Pihera said they believe they have everyone involved in this crime.

“I don’t want anybody in this community to think that we’ve got a mad person running around trying to stab somebody,” Pihera said.

Neighbors told Artz that the woman was depressed about her father dying.


LOGANVILLE, GA (AP) – Police in an Atlanta suburb responding to reports of a stabbing say they’ve found four young children and a man all dead inside a home.

Gwinnett County police said in a brief statement that the bodies were found early Thursday morning in Loganville.

Police described the crime as horrendous, and said a motive wasn’t immediately known. Police said they detained a woman, though no charges were immediately announced.

The children’s ages weren’t immediately available.

Video from WSB-TV showed crime scene tape surrounding a single-story home with white paneling in a subdivision.

Loganville is about 30 miles (48 kilometers) east of Atlanta.

(Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

 

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