Now Patricia Ortiz, a 31-year-old mother of three from Le Grand, California, will face murder charges after allegedly killing her 3-, 5-, and 8-year-olds.
Someone called in a welfare check to a home on Brice Street in Le Grand around 2:10 p.m., according to the Merced County Sheriff’s Office.
"When deputies arrived, they found three deceased children inside the residence along with an adult female who was suffering from what appeared to be self-inflicted wounds," the department said in a statement Thursday.
Deputies found Ortiz with severe injuries, investigators said. They took "life-saving measures" at the scene and she was rushed to a hospital for treatment ahead of her expected booking at the Merced County Jail.
Authorities identified the children as Alexa Ortiz Lara, 3; Matteo Ortiz Lara, 5; and Anna Ortiz Lara, 8.
On Wednesday, sheriff’s department spokesman Daryl Allen said Le Grand is a small, tight-knit town.
"I can tell you that from living here for a long time, this whole town -- I’m going to call it a family -- everybody in this town knows everybody," he said. "So when something like this happens it affects everybody."
He said he could not yet reveal the children’s cause of death or the nature of Ortiz’s injuries due to the pending investigation.
Elias Vargas, a neighbor, told local media he was home when he heard a man screaming and then saw him walking back and forth between the apartment complex and Le Grand Elementary, a few feet away.
"He said, ‘My kids were killed!’ so that’s when I realized something serious happened there at the house," Vargas told KFSN-TV.
The children’s father was identified as Israel Ortiz in a crowdfunding post that was set up to help the family cover funeral expenses. He could not immediately be reached for comment Friday evening.
Online records did not yet show Ortiz in custody at the county jail Friday evening.
Anyone with information about the case is asked to call detectives at (209) 385-7472.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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