- Associated Press - Tuesday, March 24, 2015

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) - A central Florida woman charged with killing her three children attempted suicide in 2009 following allegations that she stole a friend’s credits cards, according to a report released Tuesday by child welfare officials.

A child abuse investigator visited the home of Jessica McCarty after she allegedly texted a friend that she was going to kill herself, the report said. McCarty told the investigator that she’d taken sleeping pills and muscle relaxers. Investigators also spoke with the father of the children and their grandmother, who said McCarty struggled with depression and had attempted suicide two times previously. The grandmother also said her daughter had recently been under investigation for credit card fraud, according to the report released by the Department of Children and Families.

The investigator felt the children were in intermediate danger and said they had inadequate supervision, but noted that their father and grandmother seemed like capable caregivers, according to the report. The investigator gave the family a brochure, had them sign a safety plan and closed the case. McCarty was also referred to and was receiving mental health services, a DCF spokeswoman said Tuesday.

McCarty called 911 Friday and told police she’d killed her children. They found her in the front yard of her Palm Bay home, wielding a knife and covered with wounds on her knees and head. Authorities eventually fired several bean bag rounds to subdue her.

Inside the home, police found 7-year-old Laci McCarty and 6-year-old Philip McCarty, who later died at the hospital.

Just before calling police, McCarty allegedly texted the father of her 5-month-old baby, Christopher, showing him photographs of blood throughout her home. The father, Chris Swist, sped to the home, where police found him outside performing CPR on Christopher. The baby died a few days later.

Palm Bay Police Chief Mark Renkens said 33-year-old McCarty tried to strangle Christopher and Philip and drown 7-year-old Laci. There is no indication that the children were stabbed, although the children did have cuts on their bodies, police said.

McCarty chose to remain in custody under a special medical watch when she appeared in court Sunday to face charges of two counts of murder and one count of attempted murder. After her infant died Sunday night, police said she would face three murder counts.

Palm Bay Police said they found an open journal belonging to McCarty on the dashboard of a car in the driveway during a search of the home. It was open to a page with a note that said, “To my family,” which indicated remorse for her actions. Another page was addressed to Christopher’s father, asking him to keep the child’s name alive.

DCF Secretary Mike Carroll has asked his top substance abuse and mental health expert to review the circumstances leading up to the killings.

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