MEMPHIS, TN (abc24.com) - Two girls were taken to the hospital in critical condition after police say they were stabbed by their uncle. Their conditions were eventually upgraded to non-critical. Their mother, who was also stabbed, was released from the hospital Thursday, June 14. Neighbors say the suspect was mentally unstable and warning signs were ignored.
32-year-old Benito Martinez is in police custody, his neighbors say he should have been in a mental hospital a long time ago. Neighbor Shaun Bowdry says, "This is the same guy we've been arguing with, having problems with for the past three to four months, we've been trying to get rid of this guy."
According to police Martinez snapped and stabbed his seven-year-old niece in the head with a kitchen knife. The child's mother, Patricia Covarruloias, grabbed her wounded daughter when police say Martinez stabbed her and her other eight-year-old daughter, before the three were able to barricade themselves in a bedroom.
Bowdry says the scene "was the worst thing I've ever seen in my life, worse than a horror movie, worst thing I've ever seen in my life."
The seven-year-old had three stab wounds to the head; the eight-year-old had two stab wounds to the head and a third to the shoulder.
The Assistant Director of Concern EAP, Judy Bookman, says Martinez showed warning signs long before the attack. "I believe the family indicated they had tried to get him help before," Bookman explains, "So there were some symptoms that they recognized that I'm assuming they did not act on."
Bookman says mental instability needs to be taken seriously. "There's nothing that says because that happened once it's not going to happen again, it probably increases the risk that it will."
Bookman says if someone wont get help on their own, family and friends need to stage an intervention to get them the help they need.
Martinez is charged with three counts of aggravated assault.