MEMPHIS, Tenn. (NBC News) — Four children were fatally stabbed in suburban Memphis Friday, and their mother was taken into custody for questioning, authorities said.
The mother and the children who were killed were not identified, police said. The Shelby County Sheriff’s Office got a call about a stabbing at shortly before 1 p.m., the sheriff’s office said. No charges had been filed in the case as of Friday night.
“This is an egregious act of evil that has shocked us to our core,” Shelby County Sheriff Bill Oldham told reporters. “I will never understand how anyone could do that.”
Oldham said names would not be released until next of kin is notified. The ages of the children were not released, but the sheriff’s office told NBC affiliate WMC in Memphis they were under 6 years old.
Oldham said he had no information if any mental health issues played a role, but that would be part of an investigation into the motive.
He said the investigation was in its preliminary phase but would determine whether there was anyone else inside the apartment. There were people outside the home, he said.
The father was not at home at the time of the killings, officials told WMC. The Department of Children Services said it has no previous history with the family, the station reported. The killings occurred in a gated community
Oldham said the special victims unit and other advocates will be available for family members, and that Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell Jr. ha pledged any assistance required.
County Commissioner Mark Billingsley said the county would work to help the family of the children recover.
“It’s just a very sad day,” he said. “It’s really beyond words, quite frankly.”