A mother who was originally from Atlantic County, New Jersey, is accused of killing her two daughters by reportedly drugging them with prescription pills including oxycodone.
Four-year-old Royal McIntyre and a 9-year-old Aleyah McIntyre were found unresponsive in a bed at a home in Phoenix, Arizona, last week.
According to officials and published reports, the mother of the two victims, Retta Renee Cruse, 35, a native of Pleasantville, New Jersey, was found barricaded in a bedroom with self-inflicted knife wounds.
Phoenix Police Department officers responded to an apartment complex around 6 p.m. after getting a call from a man reporting that two young children were dead in his home. Officers responded and found the girls unresponsive in a bed at the home.
Investigators determined Cruse used prescription and over-the-counter medications to sedate and overdose the children.
Pills and liquids were located around the home and near the children, as well as a note signed by Cruse about the motive.
Cruse reportedly said she believed the children had COVID-19, so she was isolating them and herself, as well as giving them medication to help them sleep.
However, during interviews, Cruse reportedly denied knowing how the girls died and denied knowing about the confession letter. Investigators also learned she was upset over a recent custody hearing.
She was booked into jail for two counts of first-degree murder on September 14 after being released from the hospital where she was treated for her wounds.
The father of 9-year-old Aleyah told the hyperlocal news blog BreakingAC that he recently won a court battle to have his daughter returned to him in Millville, after Cruse refused to return the girl after a visit last year.
Days after celebrating his court victory, Kevin Maddox found out his daughter and her half-sister were dead.
Michael Coleman, 4-year-old Royal’s father, reportedly told police Cruse “was upset over a recent court hearing where was losing custody of” one of the girls. Coleman also said she told him the girls had COVID-19, and that she was keeping them isolated and medicating them.
Officials believe Cruse is mentally disturbed.