Lawyer: Mother held in deaths of her 2 children in Calif promised to return them to ex-husband

A mother arrested for investigation of killing her 9-year-old daughter and her 13-year-old autistic son in California had promised to return them to their father in Georgia after he was recently awarded full custody in a contentious divorce case, an attorney told The Associated Press.

Marilyn Edge lost custody of her children Wednesday in the Georgia divorce case and she texted her ex-husband, Mark Edge, two days later that she would bring the children back on Sunday, said Mark Edge's attorney Marian Weeks.

But the hand-off never occurred and the 42-year-old mother is now behind bars, booked on suspicion of murder in the deaths of 9-year-old Faith and 13-year-old Jaelen. Authorities said she told police they could find their bodies at a hotel in Santa Ana, Calif. The cause of death wasn't released, but police said the children weren't stabbed or shot.

Mark Edge was informed early Sunday by Atlanta police and was taken to a hospital for duress, Weeks said.

"He's emotionally, extremely distressed," Weeks said. "He is getting better. His whole focus right now is on the children."

Marilyn Edge, who had been living in Scottsdale, Ariz., was driving a car that crashed into an electrical box outside a shopping complex in Costa Mesa, Calif., on Saturday. After the crash, she refused to get out of the car and tried to choke herself with an electrical cord as rescuers tried to free her, said Santa Ana police Cpl. Anthony Bertagna.

Police found propane in the car but they wouldn't say whether a suicide note was found.

A phone message left for Marilyn Edge's divorce attorney, Mary Korre, was not immediately returned Monday. Charges have not been filed by Orange County prosecutors, but Marilyn Edge was expected to make her initial court appearance Tuesday.

The Edges were married for less than 10 years and divorced in December 2007, Weeks said. Marilyn Edge claimed her former husband, who routinely traveled to Afghanistan where he worked as a contractor, failed to make child support payments, according to court records.

Marilyn Edge also claimed the children of a friend of her ex-husband were sexually abusing her kids, but the allegations were never proven, Weeks said.

She was given full custody of her children in October 2009, a ruling that was set aside after Mark Edge contended he wasn't aware of a court hearing because he was overseas and documents were sent to a wrong address. However, the Georgia Supreme Court found there wasn't enough evidence to set aside the ruling.

Weeks said the case began to turn in the ex-husband's favor in September when a judge reduced child support payments and ordered joint custody. At the time, Mark Edge hadn't seen his kids in more than 1½ years because his ex-wife refused to let him visit them, she said.

But Mark Edge was stymied again by his ex-wife, who moved to Arizona shortly after the judge's order, saying she was getting a job transfer, Weeks said. Mark Edge only saw his children three or four times via Skype, she added.

"All he wanted was to spend time with his children," Weeks said. "But Marilyn could not let that happen."

At a hearing last Wednesday in a Georgia courtroom, a judge found that Marilyn Edge was alienating her children from her ex-husband and said he should be given full custody, Weeks said. It's customary for the custody transfer to happen the same day as the judge's order, Weeks said, but Marilyn Edge said the children were staying with her parents in Arizona.

The judge gave her until noon Sunday to turn the children over. On Friday, Mark Edge received a text from his ex-wife saying, "'I will see you on Sunday and I have their school records,'" Weeks said.