Sunday, January 29, 2006

Police Find 3 Children Dead in Ark. Home

DE QUEEN, Ark. - Police found the bodies of three children lying side-by-side on a bed in their home Saturday after their mother said she smothered them, investigators said.

Officers were sent to the southwestern Arkansas home after the father called authorities from New York saying his wife had confessed to the killings.

Paula Eleazar Mendez, 43, collapsed when officers arrived and was taken to a hospital to be treated for ingesting a toxic substance, officials said. She was under guard there until she could be taken to a jail to face homicide charges, Police Chief Richard McKinley said.

Notes found in the house may disclose a motive, McKinley said, though he would not elaborate.

Officers discovered the 6-year-old twin boys and their 8-year-old sister on a queen-size bed in what appeared to be a master bedroom near the rear of the wood-frame house, said Chris Brackett, a Sevier County sheriff's investigator. The children's names weren't released.

"Why the kids? It's terrible and sad," Brackett said. "I can't think of anything worse."

The children's father, Arturo Morales, 37, is a construction worker in New York. His wife and children had moved to Arkansas because it was safer, said the Rev. Salvador Marquez-Munoz of St. Barbara Catholic Church, where the children were enrolled in catechism classes.

"They were active in the church. She never missed a Sunday," Marquez-Munoz said. "They were just like any other children — bright and lively. I can't believe she could have done this."

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