TEMPE, AZ — A Valley mother is facing first-degree murder charges after her two children were found violently killed at their Tempe home Saturday morning.
Tempe police said just after 7 a.m. they were flagged down by a woman, later identified as 40-year-old Yui Inoue who primarily spoke Japanese, at the Apache substation near Apache Boulevard and McClintock Drive. She reported to officers that she was hearing voices telling her to kill her children.
Officers said they then went to an apartment near U.S. 60 and Mill Avenue for a follow-up investigation.
When officers entered the apartment, they located two children, identified by police as a 9-year-old girl and a 7-year-old boy, who were dead and had been severely mutilated.
Police said during the investigation they learned that around 12:30 a.m. officers responded to the same apartment regarding a domestic dispute between the husband and wife. No one was arrested in the first response and they were made to separate at that time.
It is with a very heavy heart that we share that we are investigating a homicide in the 4100 block of S. Mill Ave. Officers located a deceased 9 year old and 7 year old inside the apartment. The mother of the children has been detained and is being interviewed. pic.twitter.com/hCEymjjHoZ— Tempe Police (@TempePolice) May 15, 2021
During the initial call, officers noted that the kids were safe and in their beds before officials left.
Police said officers later spoke to her husband who reported that he had slept in his vehicle overnight. He told authorities they had an argument the night before. The husband added that he left the apartment around 3 a.m. because he said Inoue had reportedly threatened to stab him over money for her upcoming move to Japan.
The husband said that the children were asleep at the time of the argument and he claimed he did not have concerns about Inoue harming them at that time.
Police said Inoue and her husband filed for divorce in April 2021 and were living in separate rooms in the same apartment.
During an interview with police, Inoue said she went to sleep with the children. Around 4:30 a.m., she woke up with blood on her hands and arms, and the children were dead. She then took a bath and drove to the police station.
Police said Inoue did not believe that she had killed the children but said she could not remember.
Authorities said a meat cleaver with bloodstains was found inside a bag in the vehicle Inoue drove to the police station.
The Kyrene School District says the two children killed were students at Kyrene del Cielo Elementary School and counselors will be available on campus for any student or staff member in need of support.
In a statement from the district, they say, “Kyrene School District is devastated to learn of the loss of two Kyrene del Cielo Elementary School students. While law enforcement focuses on the investigation, Kyrene is focused on supporting the Cielo community. The District has a team of professionals, trained to address the needs of students, parents and school personnel. Counselors will be available on campus, throughout this week and beyond, for any student or staff member in need of support. We ask for compassion for our Cielo community during this time of healing.”
“Moments like this remind us that life is precious and too often fleeting. Please hold your children and loved ones close. The Kyrene community has a way of coming together with love and support, and I thank you in advance for sending that love toward our Cielo families, staff and students,” said Superintendent Laura Toenjes.
Tempe Police Department's peer support team is working with officers who "experienced emotional trauma due to observing the tragic scene and the trauma done to the young children."
Inoue was booked in the Tempe City Jail on two counts of first-degree murder.
According to police documents, Inoue was involved in a previous incident during which she reportedly stabbed her son with scissors, but it had been unreported to police.
On Tuesday, the Arizona Department of Child Safety released a statement on the incident that acknowledges an open investigation into the family began in March.
According to the DCS release, a report was received on March 2 that alleged Inoue had neglected one of her children and that she took that child and their whereabouts were not known.
Authorities eventually located Inoue and the child, and Inoue was taken to a psychiatric hospital while the child was returned to their father, according to a statement.
The DCS investigation found no evidence of neglect and the children told officials that they felt safe with their parents, but the investigation remained open, officials said in a statement.