PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5/AP) -- The mother who police say admitted to killing her three children in Phoenix Monday night had lost custody of her kids at least once before. Rachel Henry, 22, was booked into jail on three counts of first-degree murder.
The children have been identified as Zane Henry, 3, Miraya Henry, 1, and 7-month-old Catalaya Rios. Police say Miraya would have turned 2 next week.
During her first court appearance Tuesday, we learned that her kids had been removed from her home in the past. "My understanding is that her kids had previously been removed from her home by DCS related to her drug addiction," a county prosecutor told the judge. Arizona's Family has confirmed that her kids had been taken away from her in Oklahoma. The family had recently moved to Arizona from Oklahoma. Arizona child welfare officials say they hadn't had any contacts or abuse reports involving the family.
[RAW VIDEO: Phoenix mother walks into 4th Avenue Jail]
During Tuesday's initial court appearance, county prosecutors also voiced their concerns about the fact that Henry could be a flight risk. They said she has minimal ties to Arizona, and has reportedly only lived in our state since June of 2019. "Her ties are to Oklahoma, which is where she is from," stated the prosecutor. "The information that we have, and by her own admissions, she has a history of drug addictions, specifically to methamphetamines." Her secured bond was set at $3 million.
WHAT HAPPENED INSIDE THE HOUSE?
The children -- 7-month-old Catalaya Rios, 1-year-old, Miraya Henry, and a 3-year-old Zane Henry-- were found around 7:30 p.m. Monday at a home near 24th Street and Vineyard Road, which is south of Southern Avenue. Court documents released Tuesday evening allege that Henry systematically smothered her three children, one by one. Police say the 1-year-old girl would have turned 2 next week.
Police say they first received an "unknown trouble call" from a relative of the children. According to the police report, the woman who had called 911 reported that three children under the age of three were dead.
When police arrived at the home, they were greeted by three adults -- Henry, the children's father, and another relative, Sgt. Mercedes Fortune of the Phoenix Police Department said. According to police, the kids were in a living room area near the front door. “We didn’t have to go look for the children," Fortune said. All three of the children were unresponsive. Officers performed CPR on them. Fire crews then arrived at the home and paramedics also provided first aid. But sadly, all efforts were unsuccessful, and the children were pronounced dead.
During a news conference late Monday night, Fortune said that when police arrived, they were told that the children had been "ill" earlier in the day. She also said the children showed no obvious signs of trauma. "We're trying to determine why this occurred," Fortune said at the time. "Any time you have three children that are deceased ... in that aspect, it is suspicious." Fortune said the kids lived at the home with their parents and two other adults. At this point, police have not determined what happened in the moments, hours and days leading up to the children's deaths. According to court documents, she had been acting strange in the days leading up to the killings. "As you can imagine, this case is very complex," Fortune said Tuesday morning as police were wrapping up the on-scene portion of their investigation. "There’s a lot of moving parts to it. We are comfortable in saying now that the mother is responsible for the death of the children."
WHAT'S NEXT FOR HENRY?
Unless Henry can post bond, she will remain behind bars facing the three murder charges. Her next court appearance is set for Jan. 28. Her preliminary hearing is set for Jan. 31. Meantime, police will continue to investigate what led up to this tragedy. Phoenix police say investigators will be looking into whether postpartum depression might have been a factor. "It's mind-blowing, it's shocking. It's one of those things where you start asking yourself, why didn't she reach out for help?" said psychologist Dr. John Delatorre.
It was an extremely difficult scene to see for first responders. Fire crews who responded to the call reportedly did not work the rest of the night due to being traumatized by the incident. "It's very difficult," Fortune said.