Shanynthia Gardner, a mother in Memphis, Tennessee, has been charged with murdering four of her five children, three daughters and one son all under the age of five, in her apartment. There have been too many incidents such as this one lately, and the unfolding of this unfathomable tragedy already has those who know Gardner defending her, including the grandmother of the seven-year-old boy who managed to escape with his life.
Gardner’s victims have been identified as four-year-old Tallen Gardner, three-year-old Sya Gardner, two-year-old Sahvi Gardner, and six-month old Yahzi Gardner.
— Attorneymom (@PinkCottonMom) July 2, 2016
Gardner, 29-years-old, reportedly slit her children’s throats. Dallen Clayton, Gardner’s seven-year-old son from a former marriage, was able to run from the apartment, escaping and surviving the horrific quadruple murder. According to the Associated Press, a large butcher knife appearing to be covered with blood was found by the sheriff’s deputies at the scene of the crime.
Sonya Clayton, Dallen’s grandmother, said she’s shocked by the crime and hadn’t seen Gardner for a few years. She stated Gardner has known her son since eighth grade. USA Today reports Clayton is “sickened” to hear the news and hasn’t been able to eat or sleep. However, less than 48 hours after the slayings, Clayton said she forgives her former daughter-in-law.
“She was a sweet young lady. What happened, I don’t understand. I forgive her. I know this was not her. I know this was the work of the devil. I love Shanynthia wholeheartedly still.”
Like AZ mother last month, these stories remind me of Sethe’s actions in Beloved. We so need more black therapists.
— BMW (@BMW4Reel) July 3, 2016
Heavy reports that another woman, a co-worker of Gardner’s named Michele Guimond, defended Gardner on Facebook.
“I am heartbroken because a friend, co-worker and a loving mother committed a horrible act yesterday. Yari Gardner was a loving mother… I do believe that something happened to make her kill her 4 beautiful babies…maybe it was Postpartum psychosis… The only thing I can do is support and pray for her. I hope she knows that there are people who aren’t passing judgement on her and only hope she can get the help she needs.”
Clayton and Guimond’s sentiments regarding Gardner are reminiscent of the case in Phoenix, Arizona, where another young mother, Octavia Renee Rogers, stabbed her three young sons to death. The woman’s family has chosen to stand by her. Rogers’ mother was slammed by internet users, who were in disbelief that she chose to support her daughter after the atrocity she committed. Discussion was also prompted about whether people would do the same if their own children committed that type of crime.
— Tom T. ن (@VRWCTexan) July 2, 2016
Investigators are still searching for a motive behind the killings and are looking into Gardner’s mental health history. Spokesperson Rob Johnson for the Department of Children’s Service stated the agency has no record of interaction with the family.
“We’ve done an exhaustive search and we are not aware of any contact with this family,” Johnson said.
Meanwhile, a vigil for the slain children was held on Saturday. Neighbors and friends of the family attended.
“This is a terrible act, an egregious act that has shocked, I believe, the community, and has shocked our staff to the core,” Shelby County Sheriff Bill Oldham said Saturday.
Shanynthia Gardner faces four counts of first degree murder, four counts of aggravated child neglect or endangerment, and four counts of aggravated child abuse. Gardner is being held without bond and has an arraignment scheduled for Tuesday.
[Photo via Facebook]