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Mother charged with killing 2 young daughters in Phoenix

Retta Cruse, 35, has been booked on two counts of first-degree murder after her daughters were found dead in early September.

PHOENIX — The mother of two children who were found dead inside a Phoenix apartment complex on Sept. 8 has been charged with murder, according to the Phoenix Police Department.

Retta Cruse, 35, has been booked on two counts of first-degree murder for the deaths of Royal McIntyre, 4, and 9-year-old Aleyah McIntyre.

Phoenix police said the girls may have died from a drug overdose but investigators are waiting to get back results from toxicology tests.  

The girls were found together in bed inside the family's apartment. When officers arrived, Cruse was barricaded in the bedroom with a bed pushed against the door.

After officers were able to get to Cruse, they found a knife next to her. She was nude with stab wounds and lacerations, according to officials.

Officials also found a written and signed note near the two girls with a motive and a signature matching the signature on Cruse's driver license's, officials said.

RELATED: Police: Mother main suspect in death of 4-year-old, 9-year-old girls in Phoenix

A witness told Phoenix police the mother had been upset over losing custody of one of her daughters. The witness further revealed Cruse was secluding her children because they allegedly had contracted the coronavirus, according to court documents. 

When the witness tried checking on the children, Cruse allegedly told them the girls were sleeping and couldn't be disturbed.

Cruse was transported to a local hospital for her stab wounds on Sept. 8, where she allegedly admitted to killing her oldest daughter and attempting to take her own, according to documents. 

The scene investigation suggests Cruse used prescription drugs and over-the-counter medication to sedate and overdose the children, according to officials. There was a prescription pill by the girls' mouths, a prescription bottle found in Cruse's room with similar-looking pills – the bottle label read acetaminophen and a prescription bottle of oxycodone was also in the room with the girls, documents say. 

In a Sept. 11 interview with police, Cruse said someone else had suggested she kill the girls and herself but then denied taking action or knowing the girls were dead, according to documents.

This story is still developing. Please check back with 12 News for updates.

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