TEMPE, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) -- A mother is facing murder charges after her two young children were found dead early Saturday morning.
"Very tragic incident this morning," said Sgt. Steve Carbajal with Tempe Police Department.
Carbajal said the woman, later identified as 40-year-old Yui Inoue, flagged down an officer at the Apache Substation and led them to her apartment on Mill Avenue just north of the U.S. 60 Superstition Freeway. Police say Inoue mostly spoke in Japanese. There, they found the bodies of a 9-year-old girl and a 7-year-old boy. Carbajal said there were "obvious signs of physical trauma." After detaining and questioning Inoue, she was arrested and will be charged with two counts of first-degree murder.
"Children of 9 and 7 should be protected by their parents and for something this traumatic to happen to them and what they must have gone through prior to that or during that is something we can't even quantify," said Carbajal.
According to Carbajal, Inoue told officers she was hearing voices telling her to kill her children when she flagged them done. Carbajal said investigators later learned officers had been to the same apartment just after midnight for a domestic fight between Inoue and her husband. He said no one was arrested in connection to the fight and the two kids were safe in their beds when officers left the apartment.
"At that time everything seemed to be OK. There was no immediate information that something like this would happen," said Carbajal. He added the father was never a suspect in the murders and that he broke down crying when he learned his two children were dead. Police say the dad had reportedly gone to go sleep at his work, but after not being able to get into the building, slept in his car in the parking lot of a Wells Fargo bank until the morning. Inoue and father were in the process of going through a divorce, police say.
The crime has been traumatic for the officers who responded to the scene of the two dead children and the ones who responded to the domestic dispute. "We have the experience of seeing the worst, things that people will never see but there's something elevated about that when it's a 9-year-old and a 7-year-old," said Carbajal. "This should have never happened."
Neighbors can't believe it either. "I would see them in the pool, with their mom a couple of times. They were happy, beautiful children," said Bobbi Campbell, a neighbor. She said the tragedy has impacted the community. "It's been heavy on a lot of our hearts here. A lot of people are really confused about what happened. A lot of us heard screaming. It's been scary," Campbell added.
During an interview with Inoue with a Japanese interpreter, Inoue said there had been an argument between her and the father over money the previous night before her husband left the apartment. Inoue told detectives she went to sleep with the children, then around 4:30 in the morning woke up with blood on her hands and arms. She told police she didn't believe she had killed the children, but said she couldn't remember. Inoue said after she took a bath, she suddenly "woke up" to the situation and went to the police station.
According to a spokesperson for the Kyrene School District, the two children were students at Kyrene del Cielo Elementary School. The district provided the following statement:
“Kyrene School District is devastated to learn of the loss of two Kyrene del Cielo Elementary School students. While law enforcement focuses on the investigation, Kyrene is focused on supporting the Cielo community. The District has a team of professionals, trained to address the needs of students, parents and school personnel. Counselors will be available on campus, throughout this week and beyond, for any student or staff member in need of support. We ask for compassion for our Cielo community during this time of healing.”
“Moments like this remind us that life is precious and too often fleeting. Please hold your children and loved ones close. The Kyrene community has a way of coming together with love and support, and I thank you in advance for sending that love toward our Cielo families, staff and students," Kyrene Superintendent Laura Toenjes said.
Editor's Note: In the initial report to Arizona's Family the children's ages were reversed.