5 Things to Know: Georgia Mother Accused of Stabbing Her Husband and 4 Kids to Death
Isabel Martinez is accused of fatally stabbing her husband and four of their five children in their Georgia home last week
The 9-year-old lone survivor of a stabbing rampage is still recovering at a Georgia hospital as her mother is accused in her assault and the deaths of her four siblings and their father.
Diana Romero was the only one found alive in the family’s home in Loganville, Georgia, on Thursday after her mother, 33-year-old Isabel Martinez, allegedly stabbed her husband and other children to death.
“She [Diana] is surrounded by loving family members who are helping care for her,” police said in a tweet on Friday.
Here are five things to know about the case.
1. The Youngest Victim Was 2 Years Old
Gwinnett County police responded to Isabel Martinez and Martin Romero’s home on Emory Drive in Loganville — which is about 30 miles east of Atlanta — around 4:45 a.m. Thursday.
There they found the bodies of 33-year-old Romero, Isabela Martinez, 10; Dacota Romero, 7; Dillan Romero, 4 and 2-year-old Axel Romero — all dead from apparent stab wounds.
Martinez was immediately taken into custody, according to a Gwinnett police spokeswoman.
Police have not released a motive for the killings.
“When they told me about it, I didn’t believe it,” one neighbor told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
“This is a good community right here.”
2. Surviving Victim Is Recovering
Authorities said they were relieved to find Diana alive among her relatives in the home.
“Fortunately, they found one additional child who was still alive suffering from serious conditions,” Gwinnett police told PEOPLE in a statement.
Diana was taken to Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, where she was initially listed in serious but stable condition. She was awake and talking on Friday, the police spokeswoman told PEOPLE.
“We continue to pray for Diana’s recovery both physically and emotionally as she learns about what happened to her father and siblings,” police said in a statement.
A family member has set up a GoFundMe page to cover medical costs for Diana and burial costs for her family.
“She has undergone surgery to repair the damage from multiple stab wounds and is expected to remain in the hospital for 2-3 weeks before starting physical therapy and rehab,” the page reads.
3. Mom Smiled in Court as She Faces Murder Charges
Martinez, the accused mother, drew the ire of a Gwinnett County judge on Friday after smiling and giving a thumbs-up as she appeared in court on several charges related to the attack.
Martinez has not yet entered a plea to the charges against her — five counts of murder and malice murder along with six counts of aggravated assault — a court spokeswoman tells PEOPLE.
“What prompts a person to take the life of such innocent children and her spouse is something we may never understand,” officials said in the statement.
“This is a horrendous crime not only for the victims but for the extended family, neighborhood and community.”
Martinez reportedly told the judge that the people and her faith would act as her attorney, ABC News reports. However, the judge advised Martinez to hire a lawyer or allow one to be appointed to her, and the court subsequently appointed attorney Robert Greenwald to represent her.
He did not immediately respond to a request for comment from PEOPLE but has reportedly said he would request a mental evaluation for Martinez.
4. The Family Was New to the Area
Local resident Jim Hollandsworth told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that the family had just moved to the area and that the children were involved in his after-school program.
“Everyone is in complete shock,” Hollandsworth said, describing the kids as “great” and “happy.”
“The last few weeks our staff has gotten to know these kids very well,” he said.
The family had moved into the mobile home park where they lived earlier this year, according to the AJC.
One local resident told the paper that he often saw the family’s children playing in the neighborhood, noting that they “didn’t look like they were in any kind of danger.”
5. Neighbors Heard Disputes Between Suspect and Husband
The AJC reports that, according to one local resident, Martinez and Romero had been heard arguing in their home before she came outside in tears.
Others said Martinez had fallen into a deep depression after the death of her father.
“She used to be a calm, happy person,” a neighbor told the AJC. “She invited us over to her house [and held] barbecues.”
The neighbor added: “Now, she’s yelling at people. She’s just very upset.”