PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) – The Phoenix Police Department said Wednesday that it has arrested the mother of two young children who were found dead in their home last week. Sgt. Andy Williams says Retta Cruse, 35, has been booked on suspicion of first-degree murder.
Police say the bodies of 9-year-old Aleyah and her younger sister, 4-year-old Royal Mcintyre, were found last Wednesday evening. Cruse was taken to the hospital "suffering from what are believed to be multiple self-inflicted stab wounds," Williams said that night.
"The girls were found on one bed, facing each other, with their arms around each other as though they had been placed into this position," police wrote in the probable cause for arrest statement. "There were no obvious injuries to either girl." Investigators believe Cruse "used prescription medications and over the counter medications to sedate and overdose the children. There were visual signs from the victims indicative of an overdose." Detectives say a prescription pill was found near the girls' mouths. They also say there was a prescription pill bottle of oxycodone in the room. Investigators are waiting for toxicology results.
The probable cause for arrest statement says Cruse had barricaded herself in the bedroom by pushing a bed against the door. A handwritten note with what appeared to be her signature explained the situation, according to police. Investigators say the man who is the biological father of one of the girls and a step-father to the other told them Cruse "was upset over a recent court hearing where was losing custody of" one of the girls. He also said she told him the girls had COVID-19. According to court documents, she said she was isolating with them in their bedroom and "medicating them to help them sleep."
The girls' father/step-father told police he did not see the girls for about two days, and when he asked about them, Cruse said they were asleep.
According to court documents, Cruse "made admissions to hospital staff as to her involvement in taking the life of her oldest daughter and attempting to take her own life," but she did not provide any other details. "Retta claimed [somebody] suggested she kill the girls and herself however she denied taking any action," according to public court documents. The name Cruse mentioned was redacted. "Retta denied knowing how the girls died and denied knowing about the confession letter."
Police arrested Cruse as soon as she was released from the hospital on Tuesday, nearly a week after Aleyah and Royal were found dead. Cruse was in a wheelchair when she made her initial court appearance. A secured-appearance bond was set for $2 million and a preliminary hearing scheduled for Sept. 23.