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Samantha Harper (25) left her two children to die in a hot car while she slept
Published: Aug 09, 2012 @ 4:58 PM
Samantha Harper (25)
Aug 02, 2012
La Vergne, Tennessee
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Family members and neighbors of a woman charged with her children's deaths are still shocked by the crime.
Samantha Harper, 25, was charged with two counts of especially aggravated child abuse after her two young children were found dead in their driveway.
Officials were called out to the home on 9584 Old Nashville Highway just before 4 p.m. Thursday. Smyrna Police Sgt. Bobby Gibson said the two children, three-year-old Daniel, and two-year-old Savannah Marise appeared to have died from heat stroke after being trapped in a hot car.
Police said Harper admitted to putting the children in the car, fell asleep, and later found the children and called 911. Officials believed the children were in the car for about an hour.
"It doesn't take a lot of time before it can become a deadly situation for someone trapped inside a car," said Smyrna Police Sgt. Gibson.
Police said the children's father was not home at the time of the incident. Old Nashville Highway in front of the home was closed for nearly a mile in each direction while officers investigated the scene.
Police also searched Harper's house during their investigation and found what they described as "deplorable" conditions. The house will now be condemned.
Harper's aunt says she still doesn't fully understand what happened and believes Harper was a good mother who loved her children.
"I just know her and I know her mother, and she wouldn't do that, she wanted babies every since she was a baby," said Estella Ship, Harper's Aunt.
Smyrna police say Harper has no criminal history. However, on September 29, 2011, LaVergne Police filed a child neglect report against Harper, which resulted in a referral to the Department of Children's services.
A memorial of flowers, signs and teddy bears now sits in the front yard of Harper's home. Neighbors stopped by throughout the day Friday to pay their respects.
"I just don't understand it. It broke my heart," said neighbor Debbie Herston, "this has to touch anyone who is a parent."
Harper remains in the Rutherford County Jail on a $200,000 bond. She is scheduled to appear in court on Aug. 9. Other charges may be pending. Autopsy results are still pending, as well.
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