MEMPHIS (Tennessee) • A woman has been arrested and charged with murdering four of her children, all aged below five.
One report said Shanynthia Gardner, 29, stabbed all four in the throat area, leaving them to die before police arrived on the scene.
Police were dispatched last Friday to the scene at a gated community in Shelby county, Tennessee, after one of Gardner's children from a previous marriage, seven-year-old Dallen Clayton, ran from their home and alerted neighbours about the attack by his mother.
Gardner was found at the scene with superficial cuts to her neck and wrists, according to an affidavit filed in court.
A bloody butcher knife was recovered from the home.
The victims have been identified as four-year-old Tallen Gardner, three-year-old Sya Gardner, two- year-old Sahvi Gardner and six- month-old Yahzi Gardner, reported The Daily Mail.
All four were found with "severe lacerations to the throat".
"This is a terrible act, an egregious act, that has shocked, I believe, the community and has shocked our staff to the core," Shelby county sheriff Bill Oldham said on Saturday.
One witness who saw Dallen escape said he saw Gardner come outside the house with a large knife in her hand, then re-enter her home.
In a telephone conversation with her husband Martin Gardner, after the incident, Shanynthia admitted to killing their children.
Mr Gardner was held at the scene by law enforcement officers after the incident, but he was not in the home at the time the children were stabbed, reported The Daily Mail.
Gardner has been charged with four counts of first-degree murder while committing aggravated child neglect.
In addition, she faces four courts of first-degree murder while committing aggravated child abuse; four counts of aggravated child neglect or endangerment; and four counts of aggravated child abuse.
About 30 people attended an outdoor vigil at the apartment complex on Saturday night, where prayers were offered for the four children and the surviving boy, as well as for Gardner.
Investigators are trying to determine the reason for the attack, including the possibility that Gardner was suffering from mental health problems.