Mom accused of poisoning her kids with intent to kill

Melissa Sawyers is accused of trying to kill her children via carbon monoxide poisoning. (July 30, 2009)
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July 30, 2009

NORTH AUGUSTA, S.C.---A 29-year old mother of two is in jail, accused of trying to kill her children by carbon monoxide poisoning.

Sawyers is facing 40 years in jail if she's convicted. Police arrested her this week and charged her with two counts of poisoning her two children with the intent to kill.

Police say the 10-year-old daughter and 7-year-old son were saved from carbon monoxide poisoning, in part, thanks to a neighbor who called 9-1-1.

Beth Guarnieri overheard screaming and something about a garden hose, a hose police say Sawyers was using to poison her children.
"It was terrifying. It was terrifying to me. I'm 48 years old but for the kids, to have to go through..mmm (shakes head) No one should have to go through that."

Lt. Pearson with North Augusta Public Safety. " She (Sawyers) had taped a hose from the exhaust pipe and feed it up to the backseat of her car with her children in the car."

Police allege in the incident report Sawyers drove around North Augusta telling her kids quote -- "they were going to heaven together and it would not hurt, they would just go to sleep and wake up in heaven."

She eventually stopped around the corner from her Dove Avenue home at a friend's home on Vireo Drive.

"Then I heard this blood curdling scream," says Guarnieri. "I'm getting goose bumps right now thinking about it. Somebody was screaming and ran into the streets for their lives. It was horrifying to even hear that...I can't even imagine trying to kill your own child, I can't"

Police say this isn't Sawyers first run in with the law. They say she's been arrested several times recently for charges including trespassing, disorderly conduct, intoxication, and resisting arrest.

Police say she's gotten out of handcuffs twice before during arrests, even kicked at a window in a police patrol car; and once resisting arrest so bad, officers had to taser her.

"It's one of these things that's very disturbing. We hope the children are going to be alright and hope the mother gets the assistance that she needs because obviously, there are some issues." adds Lt. Pearson.

Help that is possible thanks to Beth's instincts. "I just heard it was getting bad. The police had to get there to stop it. You gotta do the right thing. You have to make the call."

Police first took Sawyers to Aiken Regional to be evaluated, she's since been moved to the Aiken County Jail, so far no bond is set.

News 12 did speak to the friend who's house is the one police say Sawyers drove to that night. She says it was obviously a final cry for help and that Sawyers is a good mom