Alabama children are mourning the loss of a classmate and friend after an 8-year-old boy was stabbed to death in his own home early Thursday morning.
Hartselle resident Jennifer Nicole Long, the victim’s 41-year-old mother, has been identified as the lone suspect in the brutal stabbing, which left her son dead and her father injured, the Morgan County Sheriff’s Office said. Jail records reviewed by Law&Crime show that Long was booked at 2:13 p.m. on Thursday.
Authorities said that they received a 911 at 5:30 a.m. Thursday about a stabbing attack at a home.
“Morgan County Deputies responded to the scene on Village Dr near Hartselle, assisted by Priceville Police Department,” said the sheriff’s office. “Once on scene, deputies located an adult male suffering from a stab wound and one deceased 8yr old boy.”
The surviving man, who has since been identified as Charles Long, was airlifted to Huntsville Hospital after being treated at the scene. He is Jennifer Long’s father and the boy’s grandfather.
Investigators said that defendant Long was arrested at the scene of the homicide. The defendant allegedly told responding officers her son was dead in a bedroom upstairs. Authorities said they then found the boy, since identified as Tyler Weston Gardiner, stabbed to death in bed, according an affidavit obtained by Law&Crime.
The affidavit said that Charles Long asked responding Deputy Pepper to check on the boy because he was afraid that his daughter was going to hurt the child.
“After entering the residence deputies made contact with a white female coming down the stairs inside the house,” the affidavit said. “Deputies ordered the female to get on the ground and she complied.”
The victim was found dead in “the master bedroom” and had “multiple stab wounds,” authorities said; the knife was still “protruding from” the boy’s chest.
Long is now charged with capital murder of a person under the age of 14. The statute 13A-5-40(a)(15) says that intentional murder of a child under the age of 14 constitutes a potential death penalty crime.
“A person commits an intentional murder if he causes the death of another person and, in performing the act or acts that cause the death of that person, he intends to kill that person (or another person),” Alabama law notes. “A person acts intentionally when it is his purpose to cause the death of another person” and “[t]he intent to kill must be real and specific.”
The sheriff’s office said that additional charges are pending, more than likely relating to the alleged stabbing of the boy’s grandfather.
In an update posted later Thursday, the sheriff’s office noted that it shared news of the boy’s death with the school district he attended. The boy was described as a joy to all who knew him.
“It is with great sadness that we have lost one of our students in Morgan County. The student will be remembered for the joy he brought to his friends, classmates, and teachers,” Morgan County Superintendent Tracie Turrentine said in a statement. “My condolences and thoughts go out to the family at this time.”
The superintendent said that necessary resources would be made available for a community shaken up by the slaying.
“The loss of a student can be a difficult and challenging situation that can generate a high level of anxiety and distress in students,” Turrentine added. “During this time, as the school community processes this news and copes with grief, please know that support services are available to those who need them.”
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