Police: Casa Grande mother says she suffocated child

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by Brian Skoloff/Associated Press

Video report by Steve Ryan

Posted on December 31, 2013 at 5:18 PM

Updated Friday, Jan 3 at 10:35 AM

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PHOENIX (AP) -- An Arizona woman accused of trying to kill her ex-husband and poison her four children, including a teenage daughter found dead in her home on Christmas Day, told authorities she didn't want the man to have custody of the kids, police said Tuesday.

Connie Villa, 35, also told police she suffocated her daughter "with her bare hands."

She was arrested Sunday after being released from a hospital on suspicion of one count of first-degree murder and four counts of attempted murder in the Christmas Day attack in Casa Grande, about 50 miles south of Phoenix. She suffered what police say were self-inflicted stab wounds.

Prosecutors haven't formally charged her yet, but a judge ordered Villa held without bond. An attorney from the Pinal County Public Defender's Office has been appointed to represent Villa, but messages left for the agency seeking comment weren't immediately returned Tuesday. Numerous telephone numbers for Villa's family members were disconnected.

Authorities say Connie Villa lured her ex-husband, Adam Villa, to her home on Christmas and then stabbed him repeatedly. He was able to flee and drive himself to a hospital while calling 911.

He suffered non-life-threatening wounds. Responding officers found the body of Aniarael Macias, 13, lying on a bathroom floor, Casa Grande police Officer Thomas Anderson said.

An autopsy showed no clear cause of death. But Anderson said authorities are asking the medical examiner to review the body again after Connie Villa told investigators that she couldn't force the child to take prescription narcotic drugs, so she suffocated her.

Results from toxicology tests could take up to a month.

"Even though Connie Villa said she was unsuccessful in getting her to take those drugs, we don't know that to be the truth until we get those toxicology reports," Anderson said Tuesday.

The three surviving children, ages 3, 5 and 8, were in good condition. Initial tests show each child had trace amounts of opiates in their systems. Authorities would only say the drugs found in the apartment were "prescription narcotics."

The children have been temporarily placed with Adam Villa's family. He was not the father of the 13-year-old, police said.

Connie Villa told police her motive was that she did not want Adam Villa to have custody of the children after their divorce was recently finalized.

According to court records, the couple married in 2005.

Adam Villa filed for divorce in 2012, noting their marriage was "broken," according to court records.

Neither stated there was any history of abuse during their relationship, but Connie Villa noted concerns that Adam Villa had post-traumatic stress disorder and that she wanted him to seek counseling for anger, according to court records.

Adam Villa had served at least a year in Iraq with the Arizona Army National Guard, returning from a deployment in 2006.

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AP researcher Barbara Sambriski contributed to this report.

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