Mother accused of murder after 3 children found dead in Le Grand, CA apartment

Apparent murder-suicide attempt took place near Le Grand Elementary in Merced County, California
MERCED, Calif. -- California officials said a woman has been accused of killing her three children before attempting to die by suicide Wednesday.

The Merced County Sheriff's Office identified the children killed in Le Grand, California Thursday.

Officials said Patricia Ortiz, 31, killed her three children, 8-year-old Anna Ortiz Lara, 5-year-old Matteo Ortiz Lara and 3-year-old Alexa Ortiz Lara.

The young victims were found dead inside an apartment. Deputies rushed to the scene just after 2 p.m.

"Apparently, there was a gentleman that was screaming for help," Daryl Allen, with the Merced County Sheriff's Office, told ABC Fresno affiliate KFSNWednesday evening.

Elias Vargas said he was home when he heard the man screaming then saw him walking back and forth between the complex and Le Grand Elementary, which is just feet away.

"He said, 'My kids were killed!' so that's when I realized something serious happened there at the house," Vargas said.

Maria Elena lives next-door to the apartment where the children were found. She said she heard adults arguing from time to time in past, but nothing unusual or concerning recently.

RELATED: Mother, brother tried to punish boy, 6, before death, hiding body: prosecutors

Now, neighbors are waiting for answers about how this unthinkable tragedy could have happened in their quiet, small town.

"I'll just call it a family," Allen said. "Le Grand is more of a family. Everybody in this town knows everybody. It's definitely going to hurt a lot of people."

Officials said the woman was taken to a hospital for treatment. The Merced County Sheriff's Office said she'll later be taken to the county jail and held on murder charges.

If you or someone you know is in emotional distress or considering suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
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