Grandmother of 7-Year-Old Sole Survivor Forgives Mom Who Allegedly Stabbed 4 Younger Siblings to Death

Shanynthia Gardner is charged with fatally stabbing four of her five children, who were all under age 5

Photo: Source: Michael Quander WREG/Facebook

Less than 48 hours after Shanynthia Gardner allegedly stabbed her four young children to death, the grandmother of the sole surviving child says she still “wholeheartedly” loves her former daughter-in-law.

“I forgive her,” Sonya Clayton told the Memphis Commercial Appeal. “I know this was not her. I know this was the work of the devil. I love Shanynthia wholeheartedly still.”

Gardner, 29, is accused of slitting the throats of her four youngest children: 4-year-old Tallen Gardner; 3-year-old Sya Gardner; 2 year-old Sahvi Gardner; and 6-month old Yahzi Gardner, reports the Associated Press.

Her eldest child, 7-year-old Dallen Clayton, fled the Memphis, Tennessee, apartment unharmed and is now reportedly in protective custody.

Dallen is from a previous relationship, while Gardner had the younger children with her current husband, Martin Gardner.

On Saturday, Sonya Clayton joined about 30 people in a vigil outside The Greens at Irene apartment complex in southeast Shelby County, where the alleged stabbings took place, and told the Commercial Appeal she was shocked to learn about the deaths of the children.

Clayton was also dismayed the Dallen had not been released to his father. The sheriff office’s has said the boy is under protective supervision.

Clayton said Shanynthia Gardner knew Clayton’s father since the eighth grade.

“She’s a beautiful, sweet young lady,” she reportedly said.

According to WREG, a neighbor first called 911 and said the 7-year-old had run out of the house screaming. The neighbor reportedly told authorities they saw the mother come out of her house with a large knife in her hand- then re-enter.

On Saturday, Shelby County Sheriff Bill Oldham said in a press conference that first-degree murder charges have been filed against Gardner, who is now in police custody.

According to charging documents obtained by The Commerical Appeal, Gardner has been charged with four counts of first degree murder in association with aggravated child abuse, four counts of first degree murder in association with aggravated child neglect and four counts each of aggravated child abuse and aggravated child neglect or endangerment.

She will not be arraigned until Tuesday due to Monday’s holiday, reports Reuters, so she has not yet entered a plea.

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Meanwhile, the AP reports that an affidavit filed in Shelby County court by a sheriff’s detective states Shanynthia Gardner confessed to the deaths of her children while on the phone with her husband.

The outlet also reports finding another police document from March that stated Shanynthia Gardner went missing on March 19, just days after telling loved ones that she felt some someone was trying to hurt her and her family. Three days earlier, the outlet reports Gardner left work suddenly and picked up her kids. Garnder reportedly worked part-time for ALSAC, the fundraising arm of St. Jude Children s Research Hospital.

Gardner’s mother reportedly told police at the time that her daughter recently seemed stressed but had not been diagnosed with any mental illness. She was later found in a local emergency room.

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