Houston police arrested 31-year-old Sheborah Thomas after she "matter-of-factly" told a neighbor that she had killed her five-year-old daughter, Kahana, and seven-year-old son, Oraylyn, as the Houston Chronicle reported.
Thomas, who just moved in April to the 3000 block of Tierwester Street near Texas Southern University in Third Ward, was throwing away large bags of trash in a nearby field when her neighbor spotted her, the Chron reported. Thomas told him that she needed to move immediately and asked if he would help her pack up. Noticing her kids weren't around, the man asked Thomas where they were.
That's when Thomas apparently told him she had drowned them in the tub Friday and then hid their bodies beneath a neighbor's home.
The man at first thought she was joking, before he asked her again and got the same response. Though he at first left her home, the Chron reported, he came back a couple of hours later after realizing that Thomas was serious. He convinced Thomas to get into his car and then drove her to the police station, where police took her into custody.
Child Protective Services will be launching an investigation into the tragedy. A spokeswoman had confirmed to the Chron that CPS had prior involvement with the family, but would not provide details.
Thomas's husband, Danny Ray Thomas, who has a long criminal history of various theft and drug charges, was last convicted of felony possession of PCP and sentenced to three years in prison. According to court records, the two filed for a divorce in 2012 that was never finalized.
Though the case recalls that of Andrea Yates — a Houston mother who drowned her five kids in a bathtub, then was found not guilty by reason of insanity — family members told the Chronicle that Thomas does not have any history of mental illness. Her criminal history includes only three misdemeanor theft convictions and one case of failure to provide ID to a peace officer.
According to the Houston Police Department, Thomas confessed to the killings at the station. She told police that she at first wrapped the bodies in bed sheets and placed them in a trash can. The next day she tried to dig a hole to bury them on the side of the house, but was unable to dig deep enough, so she instead hid the bodies underneath her neighbor's house.
Update, August 17, 1:15: According to various reports, Thomas's defense attorney, Alvin Nunnery, told reporters at a downtown courthouse Wednesday that Thomas has been diagnosed with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder in the past, had not been taking her prescribed medication, and is currently severely depressed and has not slept since the arrest. Nunnery said Thomas is undergoing a mental health evaluation at the Harris County Jail.