Our network

DFCS: Loving mom turned into killer within past year | News

Title (Max 100 Characters)

DFCS: Loving mom turned into killer within past year

ATLANTA -- New information released Thursday offers a glimpse into the lives of the four-year-old girl and eight-year-old boy attacked by their mother. The girl was killed.

The info came from the family's file at the Georgia Division of Family and Children Services.

In September 2010, DFCS investigated a complaint that the two children were deprived, and concluded that their mother, Carulus Hines, struggled financially. She was unable to find a job, trying to support her children and her two grown, jobless brothers on a monthly $675 Social Security check. Her electricity and water services were shut off when she didn't pay the bills, forcing her to depend on the generosity of neighbors and charitable organizations.

But despite all of her problems, the investigation declared that Hines was a good and loving parent.

The next entries in the file describe Hines 14 months later -- this past weekend.

Hines walked around the house naked, calling herself God and chasing her brother out of the house with a butcher knife, the brother told investigators.

The file says that the brother did not call police about her behavior because he thought it would pass.

The next day, Monday, Nov. 28, she tried to choke her son, threw him out of a window, then wrapped her daughter's face with cellophane tape and stabbed the girl to death just before police arrived and shot Hines when she refused to put down the knife.

A DFCS case worker talked to the eight-year-old boy a few hours later. After a big sigh, he said, "I am having a strange day ... My mom was choking me real hard and stabbed my sister ... she is probably an angel now."


(Readers beware of graphic police description, at the end of this update, of what officers saw when they arrived).

ATLANTA (Nov. 29, 2011, Tue.) -- The Fulton County Medical Examiner confirmed Tuesday afternoon that a four year old girl was not shot by any of the bullets that police fired at her mother, but was killed by a combination of asphyxia and multiple stab wounds.

Two Atlanta police officers, responding to a 911 call at the Hines  home Monday afternoon, discovered the girl's mother, 40-year-old Carulus Hines, stabbing her repeatedly. Police Maj. Keith Meadows said the officers shot and killed Hines when she refused to stop and put down the knife.

LISTEN: 911 calls from Abner Place

The following statement was released by the Fulton County Medical Examiner's Office on Tuesday afternoon:

The initial phases of the autopsy examinations of 40-year-old Carulus Hines and her 4-year-old daughter...have been completed.

Carulus Hines died of multiple gunshot wounds of the torso and lower limbs. All but one of the wounds was at waist level or below. 

[The] 4-year-old died of a combination of asphyxia and multiple stab wounds. There were no gunshot wounds.

The autopsies were conducted by Medical Examiners Karen Sullivan, MD and Jennifer Gardetto, MD.


RELATED"Mothers killing their children not uncommon: Warning signs"


Also on Tuesday, Georgia's Division of Family and Children Services confirmed that case workers had seen the girl, and had compiled a file on her.  DFACS administrators were reviewing the file to determine exactly what the agency's involvement with the family was.

DFACS case workers have taken the surviving 8-year-old boy into protective custody.

A woman who lives next door to the Hines family, Lela Smith, said she had been noticing odd changes in Hines.

For example, on Sunday she said Hines was walking down the street with her eyes closed, and explained it this way to Smith:

"'My daddy told me to walk with my eyes closed.' I said, 'Who's your daddy who told you that?' [Hines's parents are no longer alive]. She said, 'Jesus.' That's who she was calling her daddy.'"

Smith said a few days ago she had lent Hines her cell phone, and when Hines hadn't returned it, Smith called the phone to ask Hines about it.

"She said, 'Who are you?'  I said, 'Carulus, this is Lela.'  'Who is Lela?'  And I said, 'Oh my goodness, what just happened to her?'"

Smith said Hines had recently been sitting in the backyard during the evenings, "She would holler, 'Jesus!'  And she was so hoarse, she could hardly holler, couldn't hardly talk, as a matter of fact.  And she would holler, and then she would, like, she was speaking in tongues.  So I don't know what was happening with her."

Smith's dominant memory of Hines was what a devoted mother she was to her children. "She loved her children," Smith said. "She was a single mom. She gook good care of them," despite being unable to find a job and support them with basic necessities.

Smith said Hines had a daughter, younger than the other two children, who she had given up for adoption.  And she said Hines told people that her husband was in prison in Maryland.

The two children would come to Smith's house by themselves to visit and had started calling her "Grandma."

"At times there wasn't no water" at the Hines home, "at times there wasn't no lights," Smith said. "I let 'em come up to cook, let 'em come over and wash."

Smith began to cry. "Well, I'm so hurt over it, I just can't hardly talk about it."

A top Atlanta police investigator told 11Alive's Jon Shirek Tuesday that detectives are methodically studying forensic evidence gathered from inside the house before beginning their investigation of Carulus Hines and her emotional and financial problems.

He said when the two officers broke into the house, responding to the 911 call, they found Hines holding her daughter, stabbing her in the neck with a knife repeatedly. 

The girl's "whole face was wrapped in Scotch tape," the detective said. "I've supervised more than 1,200 murders and this was a first for me.  There was moisture behind the tape, some air was getting through. The girl was still alive, gasping for breath, when the mother started stabbing her."


ATLANTA (Nov. 28, 2011, Mon.) -- Everyone who knew the single mom who rented the yellow and green house on Abner Place, NW, knew that she and her young children were struggling to survive.

She'd lost her job; they had no water.

They would go next door to Joe Daniel's home to get drinking water and wash clothes and cook.

Now Daniel is saying he wants to know what made 40-year-old Carulus Hines snap inside her home, attack her children and threaten Atlanta police.

Daniel said an officer "looked in there and says she was stabbing the little girl, already killed her I guess, stabbing her."

Daniel said police walked in on the woman inside her home while she was stabbing her four-year-old daughter repeatedly, and police shot and killed Hines when she threatened them.

"The [officer] looked, he backed up, just like she was coming to him with a knife or something," Daniel said. "He told her to drop it. No [she didn't drop it]. He got a gun, he went to shoot."

Police said Monday that Hines had already attacked her eight-year-old son, and threw him out of a window. He's okay. He ran to Daniel's house, and someone there called 911.

Atlanta Police Officers and Atlanta Fire Rescue workers were called to the scene of a "person injured" call on Abner Place, NW, at about 1:30 Monday afternoon. When police arrived, they were told that an eight-year-old boy had been beaten by his mother and thrown out of a window, a statement from the Atlanta Police department said.

"Officers were also told by witnesses that the mother... was alone inside the home with a toddler" who is now known to be the four-year-old girl, the emailed statement said.

Police officers were able to force their way into the home where they saw Hines sitting in a chair, stabbing her daughter.

The officers drew their guns and told Hines to drop the knife. When she did not, they shot her several times, fatally wounding her, the police statement said.

Part of the investigation is to determine if the girl was already dead when the officers fired at the mother.

Neighbor Charles Harris said his heart breaks for the family.

"I think she just snapped," he said. "'Cause she was by my house [Sunday] around 9:30 saying nine demons come out of her.  Nine demons.  [She said] that she had been possessed."

Carulus Hines' landlady, Miyoshi Hill, in tears, said she had been letting the family live in the house rent-free.

"Yeah, because of her kids, I just couldn't put her out," Hill said. "Her daughter was a disabled child. She has Downs syndrome... Things were just really hard for her, I guess."

Hill said she did everything she could to help the family. She said the woman was going to school, in training, hoping to get a job at an eyeglasses shop or at an optometrist's office.

"I just couldn't put them out, so I let them stay" for free, Hill said. "But I did come over about a few weeks ago and I told her that she was going to have to figure out what she had to do because I couldn't continue to let her stay like that. And for the first time, she'd gotten really belligerent with me, which she'd never done before."

Hill described Carulus Hines as "complex, complicated. She had some issues like she was battling against herself, herself against everything that she was dealing with, mentally. She was trying really hard, I guess, taking care of everything by herself."

Police are only beginning to investigate the mysteries inside the house on Abner Place.

There were two officers involved in the shooting, and they have been placed on routine administrative leave while the incident is investigated.