• Palm Bay mother accused of killing children waives first appearance

    Updated:

    PALM BAY, Fla. - A Palm Bay mother is being held without bond on murder charges in the deaths of her two children, and an attempted murder charge for the injuries to her infant child.

    Jessica McCarty was released from the hospital Saturday afternoon and driven to jail.

    She waived her right to a first appearance and an attorney will appear on her behalf.

    McCarty is accused of killing her two children, Laci McCarty, 7, and Philip McCarty, 8.

    McCarty's 5-month-old son, Christopher Swist, is on life support at Florida Hospital for Children.

    Palm Bay police got a 911 call from McCarty just before 6 p.m. Friday saying she had stabbed her children to death at her home on the 1100 block of Kenmore Street Northwest.

    “The information that we received over 911 was that the lady had either injured or killed her children,” said Chief Mark Renkens of the Palm Bay Police Department.

    An unidentified male later determined to be the father of one of the children arrived at the home shortly after the initial 911 call, according to police.

    He also called 911 after finding the children severely injured.

    When officers arrived, they said they McCarty outside the home armed with a knife.

    McCarty refused to drop the knife until police fired multiple bean bag pellets, officers said.

    The three children were found unresponsive inside the home with serious injuries.

    “Officers immediately found the children in the house and outside the house. They immediately began CPR,” said Renkens.


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    Palm Bay police originally tweeted that they were responding to a reported stabbing involving children, but later would not say how the children were injured.

    They said an autopsy is scheduled for Sunday and a cause of death has not been confirmed.

    “We are still trying to verify the sequence of events, how and why they occurred,” Lt. Mario Augello of the Criminal Investigations Division said in a press release. “This is still a very active criminal investigation and our priority as always is making sure we have the right answers so there can be justice in the deaths and injuries of these innocent children.”

    McCarty was treated for her injuries at Holmes Regional Medical Center.

    Resident Edna Chambers has lived in the neighborhood 30 years and often saw McCarty on her walks around the neighborhood.

    She said she once gave food to the children.

    “If she gave them to me, I would take them. I took in many kids over the years. I would take those kids,” said Chambers.

    Neighbors said they are still in shock and the incident has rocked their community.

    “Such a young family and a quiet neighborhood like this one it is very unnerving,” said resident Chris Krapps. “No warning signs at all.”

    Krapps and fellow neighbors created a small memorial in front of McCarty’s home.

    “When you hear them giggling in the backyard and now we won’t hear that,” Krapps said.

    Channel 9 learned McCarty has a history of arrests and the Department of Children and Families had contact with the family in 2009.

    DCF officials said McCarty had been treated for mental illness.

    DCF released a statement about the incident which read, in part, “DCF had one prior investigation with the family in 2009 regarding allegations of inadequate supervision. That investigation was closed with findings and the mother was referred and receiving services from a community mental health provider.  There have been no other incidents with DCF involvement since that time.”

    McCarty has been arrested for forgery, shoplifting and prescription drug abuse.

    The state is now looking into whether the family tragedy could have been prevented.

    Friends and family took to social media to write heartfelt messages to the children, saying that Swist is a fighter.

    Philip’s father wrote, “That’s why I named him after me. I love you bubby. Daddy will always love you.”

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