GWINNETT COUNTY, Ga. -- It was just a few hours before dawn when authorities got a 911 call from a mobile home community off Emory Lane in Loganville. When officers got to the scene, a grisly scene awaited them: the bodies of four children and their father, allegedly stabbed to death by their mother. Another child was found seriously injured.
That child, Diana Romero, was just 9 years old and the only one to survive the attack.
She was life-flighted to Children's Hospital of Atlanta Thursday morning after police said Isabel Martinez stabbed her husband and all five kids, including Romero. Thursday night, Gwinnett County Police released their identities: Martin Romero, 33, Isabela, 10, Dacota, 7, Dillan, 4, and Axel, just 2 years old.
Thursday, that little girl remains in serious condition, but she is recovering. Though she'll now have to grow up without her siblings and her father.
The attack has left neighbors stunned.
"These kids were fantastic kids," said Jim Hollandsworth, who runs an after school program that some of the young victims attended. "These kids were fantastic kids, and had tons to live for and a future ahead of them."
Jewels Keyes told 11Alive's Ryan Kruger they family recently moved to the area from Chicago. Her kids would often play with Diana and her siblings.
"They would come over here with the cats and dogs. That's how I knew they were sweet kids because they loved animals."
Now, Keyes said, she's having to endure the difficult task of explaining to her kids what happened. "I had to explain to her that some of them had passed on," she said.
PREVIOUS | Mother charged after family slaughtered
Pedro Ramirez said Martinez and her family seemed to be happy and Martinez, usually the life of the party. But recently, he said, she became more temperamental after her father died in Mexico and she was unable to attend the funeral.
Police have not yet released why Martinez allegedly killed her family. She is facing 16 counts, including five counts of murder.
Meanwhile, neighbors and police both are keeping Diana Romero in their thoughts and praying for a full recovery, both physically and emotionally.
“What prompts a person to take the life of such innocent children and her spouse is something we may never understand," said Gwinnett County police spokesperson Cpl. Michele Pihera. "This is a horrendous crime not only for the victims but for the extended family, neighborhood and community. We are hoping and praying that the remaining victim survives her injuries and makes a full recovery.”