A mother bludgeoned her two children to death with a baseball bat before stepping in front of a tractor-trailer in an apparent murder-suicide attempt, authorities said Wednesday.
Sylvia Ewing, 40, survived being hit by the truck and was unconscious in critical condition at University Medical Center in Las Vegas, a hospital official said. Police Lt. Tom Monahan said she will face two murder charges if she recovers.
Monahan declined to reveal the contents of a one-page note found in the two-room efficiency unit where Ewing's husband discovered the children, 8-year-old Phillip Ewing and 4-year-old Julie Ewing, dead Tuesday afternoon.
"There is evidence that she was in the depths of a deep depression," Monahan said, adding that the note "left little doubt it was her intention to take the childrens' lives."
Authorities have not identified Ewing's 46-year-old husband or said where he works.
Monahan said the family was renting the apartment near Nellis Air Force Base while their house was being built in the Las Vegas area.
He said the father went to work at 2:30 a.m. Tuesday, and the mother took the children about an hour later to a nearby Wal-Mart, where she bought the baseball bat.
The children were apparently killed before Ewing was struck by a tractor-trailer about 8:30 a.m. on North Las Vegas Boulevard, police said.
"There were witnesses who watched her step into the path of the oncoming truck," Monahan said, including one man who told police that moments before she was hit he warned Ewing she was walking dangerously close to traffic.
Police said the truck driver, 34-year-old Kevin Taylor of Henderson, was not at fault.
Monahan said the father was unaware Ewing was in the hospital, and phoned home repeatedly throughout the day. He got no answer. Arriving home from work about 3:30 p.m., he found Phillip dead in the bedroom and Julie dead in the living room.
One neighbor told the Las Vegas Review-Journal that the slayings reminded her of the 1994 case of Susan Smith, the South Carolina woman serving life in prison after rolling the family car into a lake and drowning her sons, ages 3 and 14 months old.
In another mother-children slaying case, Andrea Yates of Houston was sentenced to life in prison in March 2002 for drowning three of her children in 2001. Her lawyers argued that she suffered from severe postpartum depression.