Toddlers tried to stop mother from killing her 3 children: court documents

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An Arizona mother killed her three children, all under age 4, by smothering them, and one of the victims yelled and punched her to try and stop her, a court document shows.

Rachel Henry, 22, was arrested on suspicion of killing her 7-month-old and 1-year-old daughters, along with her 3-year-old son. Earlier reports from police had listed the middle child’s age as 2.

Authorities found all three children dead in their Phoenix home Monday evening after someone called 911 to report unspecified trouble, Phoenix Police Sgt. Mercedes Fortune said.

“Rachel admitted to smothering each child, starting with the 1-year-old,” a probable cause statement says. Henry told investigators the girl kicked her as she smothered her while the toddler son yelled and punched her to try to stop her, according to the statement.

After the girl was dead, Henry chased the 3-year-old, the statement says, but was interrupted when other adults arrived at the house. One of them played with the boy for a while.

She then took the 3-year-old to a back bedroom and sang to him as she placed her hand over his nose and mouth, the statement says. The boy scratched her chest and pinched her to try to get her to stop, it says.

After she killed the two oldest children, she fed the 7-month-old a bottle and smothered her while she slept, the statement says. She sang to the baby until she became unconscious then placed all the children on the living room couch like they were taking a nap, it adds.

Henry gave a voluntary statement admitting to all the details of the killings, police say.

She faces three counts of first-degree murder and made her first court appearance Tuesday, but she did not have an attorney and did not enter a plea. A judge set bond at $3 million and ordered an attorney be appointed for her by the state.

Appearing by videoconference from the jail, Henry said little except to express concern about the bond amount.

“I don’t know how I’m going to be able to get any money,” said Henry. “I don’t have a job or anything.”

The 911 call came from the home, but Fortune said it’s unclear who made the call.

At least two other adults were in the home the night the children were killed, police say. It’s unclear whether they were all present at the same time.

When officers arrived after 7:20 p.m. Monday, Henry was at the Phoenix home with the children’s father and another relative, police said.

A witness whose name is redacted in the report told police that Henry had been acting strangely the past few days and had a methamphetamine addiction. But the court documents indicate she was not under the influence of drugs at the time of the offense.

Henry has only lived in Arizona since June and appears to have few ties to the community, the prosecuting attorney said.

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