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Mother Faces Murder Charge in Drownings

October 18, 2003

LAMAR, Colo. (AP) _ A woman accused of drowning her two young children in a bathtub before a failed attempt on her own life was arrested Saturday on murder charges.

Rebekah Amaya faces two counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of Grace Headlee, 4, and Gabriel Amaya, 5 months, according to Lamar Police Cpt. Rick Copess.

The coroner said both children drowned and determined the deaths were homicides, the first in Lamar in since 1992.

Amaya, a registered nurse, was being returned to Lamar from a Colorado Springs hospital, where she was treated after she cut her wrists in the suicide attempt.

Her husband, Leo Amaya returned from work Thursday to find his infant son and stepdaughter unconscious in the bathtub and his wife unconscious nearby.

Rebekah Amaya will be jailed without bond pending court proceedings, Copess said during a brief news conference. He declined to answer questions.

``We wish (the families) whatever comfort and patience they might be able to find,″ Copess said.

Michelle Neibert, a friend of Leo Amaya, said Rebekah Amaya had shown signs of serious depression in the week before the children’s death, including a crying spell during church last Sunday and an inability to sleep.

Leo Amaya told police his wife had been under stress.

``Words cannot express the shock and grief we feel at this time,″ Leo Amaya said in a statement Friday. The family could not immediately be reached for comment after Rebekah Amaya’s arrest.

The Amaya family has been a part of the community in southeastern Colorado for years.

``It’s such a close-knit community that it really makes you wonder about the people you know and the people you live with,″ said 32-year-old Debbie Medrano after her two daughters placed stuffed animals outside the Amaya’s home.

Residents have been dropping off flowers, stuffed animals, cards, candles and cherub statues in memory of Grace and Gabriel.

Mark Headlee, a Lamar police officer who is Grace’s father and Rebekah Amaya’s ex-husband, returned from Utah, where he had been on military duty. His family did not return a call for comment Saturday.

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