A mother and her 5-year-old son were found dead inside an Arizona hospital early Saturday morning in what police said was an apparent murder-suicide.
The child had been hospitalized at Cardon Children's Medical Center in Mesa for about eight days, when the young mother apparently killed the boy and then shot herself, Det. Steve Berry with the Mesa Police Department told BuzzFeed News.
On Monday, authorities said the boy had been found unresponsive with medical tubing tied around his neck. When hospital staff found him, they cut off the ligatured and tried to revive him without success. His cause of death will be officially determined by a medical examiner.
The boy and his mother were staying in a private room in the hospital, Berry said. They had their own bathroom, and hospital staff checked on the child every two hours, Berry said.
They were identified as 27-year-old Lola Griffith and 5-year-old Helious Griffith.
Hospital staff had last checked on Helios at midnight, then called police at about 2 a.m. when the two were found dead in the room.
Berry said hospital staff told detectives they had not seen any warning signs during the boy's stay.
Police would also not release any details about why he was hospitalized or what his condition was, citing health privacy laws.
A crowdfunding page appeared to have been set up by Lola Griffith almost a month ago, asking for help to care for her special needs son and replace her vehicle, which had broken down.
"I normally help my community with food and diapers or whatever I can when they come and ask but this time, I'm afraid, I need the help," she wrote on the page. "But no one here in my community can lend a hand. So I'm reaching out to anybody and everybody hoping to find those few that would love to help."
On the page, she said Helious had been diagnosed with cerebral palsy and dystonia, and that she also helped care for her grandparents.
She was looking to raise $1,500 for a vehicle that could be converted with a wheelchair lift for her son and grandfather.
"We can't progress any further alone," she wrote.
Detectives are looking into what might have motivated the deadly incident, Berry said.
"We're trying to find out as much as we can about the mom's situation, the child's situation, what led to this," he said.
Griffith and her son had an open investigation with the Arizona Department of Child Safety, but police are still working to obtain details, he said.
Banner Health, the company that owns and runs the hospital, told BuzzFeed News no other patients were affected by the incident.
"We remain vigilant in the safety of all we're treating and seeing at Cardon Children's Medical Center," said Rene Moe, spokeswoman for the company in a statement.
The company also stated the Arizona hospital has a policy, posted at entry points, that firearms are not permitted inside the hospital.
"Our thoughts are with the family and their loss at this time," she said.
Salvador Hernandez is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Los Angeles.
Contact Salvador Hernandez at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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