- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 29, 2007

HUDSON OAKS, Texas (AP) — A young mother who may have been depressed apparently hanged three of her small daughters and herself in a closet using pieces of clothing and sashes, authorities said yesterday.

A fourth child, an 8-month-old daughter, was also found dangling in the closet, but was rescued from the family’s mobile home.

“It’s horrendous. That’s all I can say,” Parker County Sheriff Larry Fowler said.

The woman was identified as Gilberta Estrada, 25. The infant, Evelyn Frayre, was in good condition at a hospital, Sheriff Fowler said. Authorities did not identify the other children, but he said they were apparently ages 5, 3 and 2.

Filly Echeverria, who said she was the children’s godmother, identified the dead as Maria Teresa Estrada, Janet Frayre and Magaly Frayre.

Miss Estrada’s sister, who lived nearby, forced her way into the locked home after the woman failed to show up for work. Sheriff Fowler said the sister rescued the infant when she realized the girl was still alive.

The sheriff said the hangings appeared to be murder-suicide because the trailer’s doors were locked and a relative said the woman had been depressed.

The young mother and her girls were last seen alive Monday evening, he said.

The sheriff said Miss Estrada had won a temporary restraining order in August against Gregorio Frayre Rodriguez, who was thought to be the father of the infant and some of the other children. The sheriff said the couple had stopped living together in February.

“I just got a big kick out of watching the kids play over there on her porch, and today it’s sad, very sad,” neighbor Joyce Harris said.

Miss Estrada’s trailer was dilapidated, with paint peeling off the brown and white mobile home. Cactus plants and a rose bush decorated the front. Toys and a bicycle littered the back yard.

Texas has seen a number of child killings by mothers in recent years.

Less than five years earlier, another Hudson Oaks family was torn apart when Dee Etta Perez, 39, shot her three children, ages 4, 9 and 10, before killing herself.

Andrea Yates drowned her five children in the family’s Houston bathtub in 2001. In 2003, Deanna Laney beat her two young sons to death with stones in East Texas, and Lisa Ann Diaz drowned her daughters in a Plano bathtub. Dena Schlosser fatally severed her 10-month-old daughter’s arms with a kitchen knife in 2004.

All four of those women were found innocent by reason of insanity. Mrs. Yates initially was convicted of capital murder, but that verdict was overturned on appeal.

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