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Police: Mother ate baby's brain

Monday, July 27, 2009
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A woman charged with murdering her 3 1/2-week-old son used a knife and two swords to dismember the child and ate parts of his body, including his brain, before stabbing herself in the torso and slicing her own throat, police said Monday.

Otty Sanchez, 33, is charged with capital murder in the death of her infant son, Scott Wesley Buchholtz-Sanchez. She was recovering from her wounds at a hospital, and was being held on $1 million bail.

San Antonio Police Chief William McManus said the early Sunday morning attack occurred a week after the child's father moved out. Otty Sanchez's sister and her sister's two children, ages 5 and 7, were in the house, but none were harmed.

Otty Sanchez's aunt, Gloria Sanchez, said her niece had been "in and out" of a psychiatric ward, and that the hospital called several months ago looking to check up on her. She did not elaborate on the nature of her niece's health problems.

"Otty didn't mean to do that. She was not in her right mind," a sobbing Gloria Sanchez told The Associated Press on Monday by phone. She said her family was devastated.

McManus, who appeared uncomfortable as he addressed reporters, said Sanchez apparently ate the child's brain and some other body parts. She also decapitated the infant, tore off his face and chewed off three of his toes before stabbing herself.

"It's too heinous for me to describe it any further," McManus said.

McManus described the crime scene as so grisly that police officers barely spoke to each other while looking through the house. Parts of the child were missing, including pieces that Sanchez allegedly ate.

"At this particular scene you could have heard a pin drop," McManus said. "No one was speaking. It was about as somber as it could have been."

Officers called to Sanchez's house at about 5 a.m. Sunday found her sitting on the couch screaming "I killed my baby! I killed my baby!" McManus said. They found the boy's body in a bedroom.

Police said Sanchez said the devil told her to kill her son and that she was hearing voices.

"It was a spontaneous utterance," McManus said.

Police said Sanchez did not have an attorney, and they declined to identify family members who might speak on her behalf.

No one answered the door Monday at Sanchez's one-story home, where the blinds were shut. A hopscotch pattern and red hearts were drawn on the walk leading up to the house.

Neighbor Luis Yanez, 23, said his kids went to school with one of the small children who lived at the house. He said he often saw a woman playing outside with the children but didn't know whether it was Otty.

"Why would you do that to your baby?" said Yanez, a tire technician. "It brings chills to you. They can't defend themselves."

Authorities said Sanchez and her sister took turns watching the baby Sunday morning, and that the boy was placed in Sanchez's care at about 1:30 a.m. Her sister discovered what happened about three hours later and called police.

Investigators are looking into Sanchez's mental health history to see if there was anything "significant," and whether postpartum difficulties could have played a role in the attack, McManus said.

The killing called to mind the drowning of five children by their mother in the bathtub of their Houston-area home in 2001. Attorneys for the woman, Andrea Yates, said she suffered from severe postpartum psychosis and, in a delusional state, believed Satan was inside her and was trying to save them from hell. A jury found Yates not guilty by reason of insanity in 2006.

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