- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 20, 2005

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A woman accused of dropping her three children to their deaths in the chilly waters of San Francisco Bay was arrested while pushing an empty stroller away from the pier and was jailed yesterday on suspicion of murder.

Lashaun T. Harris, 23, was taken into custody Wednesday night after someone saw her drop the youngsters from a 10-foot pier not far from Fishermen’s Wharf, a major tourist spot.

The San Francisco Chronicle reported that the woman told authorities that voices had told her to throw her children into the water. Britney Fitzpatrick, 16, who said she is the woman’s half sister, said Miss Harris talked to herself and was diagnosed with schizophrenia this year.

“She told my mama she was going to feed them to the sharks,” Britney said of the children. “No one thought it was that serious.”

Miss Harris removed the children’s clothes before dumping them into the water, said a report in the San Jose Mercury News.

The body of Taronta Greely Jr., 2, was recovered late Wednesday near a yacht club, about two miles from the pier. The Coast Guard continued to search yesterday for the other youngsters, Trayshaun, 6, and Joshua, 16 months.

“All of us are in shock,” Mayor Gavin Newsom said. “This is a senseless and unexplainable act that goes beyond the pale. Frankly, it makes you sick to your stomach.”

Miss Harris had been living with her children in a Salvation Army shelter in Oakland and had no criminal record in San Francisco, police said. She is jailed on suspicion of three counts of murder and three of assault.

“I just talked to her yesterday,” Mary Ann Ramirez, the shelter’s social services manager, told the Chronicle Wednesday. “We had our usual, ‘How are you doing, how’s the kids?’ I would never have guessed in a million years that today she would do that.”

Asia Powell, who identified herself as Miss Harris’ cousin, told KPIX-TV that Miss Harris was taking medication for a mental illness.

“I know that she would never hurt her kids,” Miss Powell said. “I know that.”

Britney and about a dozen other family members met at Pier 7 yesterday to hold hands and pray.

Most declined to comment, but Avery Garrett, who identified himself as a family spokesman, told the Associated Press that Miss Harris’ family had tried to get her into a mental hospital, but the hospital refused to admit her.

“We knew the girl needed help,” he said.

It was not known whether Miss Harris had an attorney.

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