A mother shot her special needs 5-year-old son and then herself in a murder-suicide at a Mesa, Arizona, hospital, police say.
Lola T. "Tami" Griffith, 27, and her 5-year-old son, Helious Griffith, were found dead by hospital staff inside the boy’s hospital room just after 2 a.m. on Nov. 7, KPHO reports.
"It appears that the mother for unknown reasons took the life of the child and then took her own life there in the room,” Mesa Police Detective Steve Berry said.
Tami died from a fatal gunshot wound.
“I cannot describe the injury to the child,” Berry said.
Tami had started a YouCaring page in October to raise money to replace her vehicle so she could continue to transport Helious, who had Dystonic Cerebral Palsy, and her grandparents, for their medical needs and general care.
She wrote about her situation on the page:
"My name is Lola Griffith but I go by 'Tami.' I'm in need of help since our ONLY vehicle broke down and needs replacing. I normally help my community with food and diapers or whatever I can when they come and ask but this time, I'm afraid, I need the help. But no one here in my community can lend a hand. So I'm reaching out to anybody and everybody hoping to find those few that would love to help.
"My son's name is Helious (like the Greek Sun God Helios) and he has Cerebral Palsy with Dystonia, he has sensitivities to audio, odor, and touch. He also suffers from separation anxiety when I'm out of his line of sight where he cries and can not self calm. He has been traumatized by doctors where now he expresses extreme anxiety and down right terror when he smells rubbing alcohol and/or see someone in scrubs or lab coat.
"Our small family takes care of my grandparents as well, whom live in a senor independent living home. We transport my grandparents to their doctor appointments (sometimes weekly), set up his medication every week and grocery shopping (they no longer drive due to their own disabilities). My grandfather is wheelchair bound, just like my son. He is also a Vietnam Vet with disabilities regarding his sight, memory, hearing as well as suffers from PSTD (the weekly visits with his great grandson helps with his PSTD).
"Our ONLY transportation has blown it's engine.
"If you can't make a donation, that's okay but PLEASE at least help me get the word out that we need help. We can't progress any further alone. I hope you who's reading this, can help us."
She has raised $185 of her $1,800 goal as of this writing.
Tami reportedly has an open case with the Arizona Department of Child Safety, but was the boy’s legal guardian.
"I can tell you this family was actively involved with DCS (Arizona Department of Child Safety) and that it was an open case and that they were actively working on that as recently as two days ago," Berry said. "I’m told they had a family member with the mom, child and all the family members that were involved.”
An investigation will be opened by DCS.
"This incident was an awful tragedy. As with any death of a child there will be a full review by a DCS Multi Disciplinary Team,” DCS said in a statement. “DCS will also lend any assistance needed to local law enforcement as this investigation proceeds."
Helious had been hospitalized for about one week before the incident occurred.
The following statement was released by the hospital:
"Investigators from the Mesa Police Department have been at Cardon Children's Medical Center looking into what they're calling an apparent murder/suicide that occurred this morning in one of our patient rooms. Because of the nature of the investigation, we can't comment on the situation or of those involved.
"The safety of our patients, associates and visitors is paramount to us and is our top priority at this time. At no time were others impacted by this incident and we remain vigil in the safety of all we're treating and seeing at Cardon Children's Medical Center.
"Banner Health does have a policy in place that prohibits firearms and weapons at all of our hospitals, health centers, and clinics that's posted at our entry ways.
"Our thoughts are with the family and their loss at this time. We're directing all questions to the Mesa Police Department for any further comment related to this case."
A motive is unknown as police investigate what led to the shooting.