January 29, 2006 - Posted at 3:49 p.m. CST
DE QUEEN, Ark. (AP) _ A priest says the De Queen woman accused
of smothering her three young children is profoundly sorry and is
Forty-three-year-old Paula Eleazar Mendez is in the Sevier
County jail today after she was treated at a hospital for ingesting
a toxic substance. Officers sent to her home yesterday in response
to a telephone call from the children's father in New York found
the bodies of the children lying side by side in a bed. The mother
collapsed and was taken to the hospital.
Reverend Salvador Marquez-Munoz of Saint Barbara Catholic Church
said before entering the parish hall to say mass that he had
visited with Mendez at the hospital.
He said she asked for prayers and forgiveness because she is
realizing how much she has hurt everyone.
The bodies of eight-year-old Elvis and six-year-old twins,
Samanta and Samuel, were sent to the state Crime Lab in Little Rock
for autopsies to determine if the children had been given any
poison or had been smothered as their mother told police.
Mendez is to be arraigned tomorrow in circuit court in either De
Queen or Murfreesboro. Authorities are waiting for the father to
arrive from New York.
The priest and others who knew Mendez described her as a quiet,
devout woman concerned about her children's welfare. They said she
had few friends in the largely Hispanic community and was not
working, while her husband was supporting the family with a job in
New York City.