Indiana mother says she smothered kids to death to save them

This photo released by the Elkhart, Ind., Police Department shows Amber Pasztor. Pasztor, was arrested on two counts of murder Monday, Sept. 26, 2016, in the deaths of seven-year-old Liliana Hernandez and six-year-old Rene Pasztor, who were the subject of an Amber Alert. (Elkhart Police Department via AP)

ELKHART, Ind. (AP) — An Indiana woman told detectives she smothered her two young children to death because she feared they would be tortured by members of a drug cartel, newly-released documents show.

Amber Pasztor, 29, of Fort Wayne had a history of bipolar disorder and often failed to take medication, according to hundreds of pages of documents released this week by the Indiana Department of Child Services.

The records include an account of an interview Pasztor gave Elkhart police in which she said the cartel already had “hacked the children’s father to pieces” and would kill her and the children next. She said she didn’t want her kids to die like that, so she “smothered them with a pillow so they could die peacefully.”

The Whitley County Sheriff’s Office has said the children’s father, Rene Hernandez, died in January 2010, his body found cut in two in a wooded area west of Fort Wayne. The crime was never solved.

Pasztor currently faces a March 20 trial date on two counts of murder in the Sept. 26 killings of 7-year-old Liliana Hernandez and 6-year-old Rene Pasztor. The children were killed after being abducted from their custodial grandparents’ home.

Investigators have said Pasztor parked a car outside the Elkhart Police Department hours after the children were abducted and told an officer her children’s bodies were the back seat. Elkhart is about 70 miles northwest of Fort Wayne.

The next day, a child services case worker visited the home of the grandparents, and family members “advised that Amber is completely unstable, and that she has been making threats for months to abduct and kill the children and kill herself,” the case worker wrote in a report.

Family members claimed they had been telling people about Pasztor’s threats for months, but child services staffers said the agency had received no such reports.

Pasztor’s attorneys are seeking to present a defense of mental disease or defect, saying they believe she cannot fully understand the legal proceedings or help prepare her defense. Prosecutors are seeking a life sentence without parole.

Pasztor has also admitted to fatally shooting a neighbor, 65-year-old Frank Macomber, and taking his car. She has not been charged in the death, but prosecutors have said she is a suspect. Investigators believe Macomber was shot the same day the children were killed. His body was found the next day in a wooded area near Fort Wayne.

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