A Memphis, Tenn.-area woman faces four counts of first-degree murder associated with aggravated child abuse and aggravated child neglect for the stabbing deaths of four of her children on Friday.
Commercial Appeal reports that deputies were called to the home of Shanynthia Gardner, 29, at 12:28 p.m. Friday in southeast Shelby County, Tenn. The nature was “a wounding call where four juveniles were found deceased upon Deputies’ arrival.”
According to the arrest affidavit, police found Garner on the scene with “superficial cuts to her neck and wrists.” There were four children also found with “severe throat lacerations”: 6-month old Yahzi; Sya, 3; Sahvi, 2; and 4-year-old Tallen. A witness told deputies he saw 7-year-old Dallen run from the home and say that his mother stabbed his sister, the affidavit said.
The children’s father, Martin Gardner, spoke to Shanynthia on the phone at 12:50 p.m., and she admitted to killing their four children, the affidavit said. Deputies recovered a bloody butcher knife from the home.
USA Today reports that on Saturday, Sonya Clayton, grandmother of Dallen and mother of Gardner’s ex-husband, Detrail Clayton, said she has not eaten or slept since she found out her grandson was chased by his mother with a butcher knife. She says, though, that she still forgives his mother.
“I forgive her,” said Clayton. “I know this was not her. I know this was the work of the devil. I love Shanynthia wholeheartedly still.”
Dallen still has not been released into the custody of his father. Sheriff’s officials say the boy has been under protective supervision. Clayton said that Gardner, 29, has known the boy’s father since they were in the eighth grade.
There were vigils held for the children on Friday and Saturday night.