A western New York mother faces a murder charge in the brutal killing of her 7-year-old son, whose body was found decapitated in the family home Thursday evening.
A pair of frantic 911 calls about a suicidal woman armed with a knife led three deputies to the house in Sweden, N.Y. There they were confronted by 36-year old Hanane Mouhib, brandishing a large kitchen knife and refusing to drop it. Pepper spray and a Taser were used to disarm her and prevent her from harming other occupants in the house.
Once Mouhib was in custody, the deputies made a grisly discovery. They found the decapitated body of a young boy, later identified as her son Abraham E. Cardenas, in an adjacent room.
Authorities say they aren't certain what events precipitated the gruesome attack.
"There’s absolutely no explanation for us," Monroe County (N.Y.) Sheriff Todd Baxter said at news conference Friday. "The word ‘evil’ comes to mind… this is a mother who took her son’s life."
But Baxter also said deputies had been called to the location twice last month when Mouhib had called 911 seeking assistance, Baxter said.
On March 5, Baxter said it appeared that she recognized she was having mental health issues and called for help. Deputies took her to an area hospital.
Three days later, she again called 911 telling dispatchers that she did not feel right. Because of the record of the March 5 encounter, Mouhib was taken to Rochester General Hospital, where she received treatment from March 8 to 26.
Public records indicate Mouhib lives in the house with her husband, John Cardenas.
There were no warning signs or indicators that preceded the fatal stabbing, Baxter said. What happened Thursday appeared to be "an isolated incident" inside the house and there was no sign of a fight or altercation. Deputies continued their investigation overnight in what was a difficult scene to process.
Baxter said it appeared the fatal stabbing occurred in one room on the first floor of the house while the others in the home were in another room.
The family, he said, were equally surprised by what transpired, he said.
Five people, including another child, were inside the home when Abraham was killed, deputies said. In addition to Mouhib and her 7-year-old son, were the boy's father, who is also Mouhib's husband, the boy's grandmother and his 10-year-old brother, Baxter said.
Those relatives, who were not injured, were interviewed at the scene. They were also the ones who called 911.
Police received three 911 calls in quick succession around 8:20 p.m. Thursday. Baxter said deputies arrived to find "an extreme, horrific crime scene," inside the home.
According to court papers, Mouhib used a large-bladed kitchen knife to stab the victim in the upper-left area of the back and in his neck, causing the victim's head to become severed from his body.
Mouhib was arraigned on a charge of second-degree murder in Sweden Town Court on Friday morning. She pleaded not guilty and is being held in jail without bail.
She is scheduled to return to Sweden Town Court on April 11, but the case will be presented to a Monroe County grand jury before that occurs, according to Monroe County District Attorney Sandra Doorley. Sara VanStrydonck, the chief of the office's Child Abuse Bureau, will prosecute the case.
According to state records, Mouhib is licensed as a nurse practitioner who specializes in mental health. She graduated from the College at Brockport's nursing school in May 2011.
A spokesperson for Rochester Regional Health confirmed she worked for them from January 2016 until she left in January 2017. She currently has no affiliation with that network.
Baxter said he believed she had also worked for a time in Buffalo, but it was not clear whether she was currently employed.
Abraham was a first-grader at Barclay Elementary School within the Brockport Central School District, school officials confirmed on Friday.
Brockport Superintendent Lesli Myers said Abraham was "incredibly vibrant, an engaged learner and was beloved by his teachers and our school community."
"He lit up a room anytime he entered it," she said, adding the fatal encounter between Abraham and his mother "has completely taken us off guard."
The school district will have grief counselors available over the weekend and on Monday for students, staff and families in need. Abraham had attended Brockport schools since he started kindergarten in 2016, and his older brother is a current Brockport student.
"Our heartfelt condolences go out to Abraham's family, friends and all affected by this tragedy," she said. "Any loss of life is a loss to our entire community."
Baxter said the other boy living in the home spent the night with his grandmother and was later reunited with his father.