Police charged a mother Monday with bludgeoning her 14-year-old daughter to death with a hammer and shovel as the girl slept.

Lynn Giovanni, 45, was charged with murder. She was being held at Trenton Psychiatric Hospital (search) in lieu of $250,000 bail.

Several hours after murdering her daughter on Sunday, Giovanni tried to kill herself by crashing her car into a guardrail on Route 78 in Berkeley Heights, said Union County Prosecutor Theodore Romankow.

She sustained only minor injuries.

State police investigating that accident questioned Giovanni, who told them "of a possible homicide," the prosecutor said. Roselle Park police then broke into the house where Giovanni had been staying with her mother and daughter, and found the bloodied body of Nicole Giovanni in her bed.

"This young girl's life was taken without any purpose," Romankow said. "It is inexplicable why any parent would ever take the life of a child. We mourn her loss and we will prosecute her mother."

Romankow would not comment on a possible motive in the slaying, nor would he reveal what Lynn Giovanni might have told investigators. Neighbors said Nicole had run away from home several times, but Romankow would not confirm that.

Nicole Giovanni was a freshman at Roselle Catholic High School (search), where administrators described her as popular and an accomplished indoor track runner. Grief counselors were called to the school Monday.

An autopsy was being performed Monday afternoon by the Union County Medical Examiner's office. Romankow said it is appears from the crime scene that the girl suffered numerous blunt force trauma injuries to the head. The hammer and shovel believed to have been used in the attack were recovered, he said.

A Superior Court arraignment was tentatively set for Wednesday afternoon.