Police: Uncle admitted to stabbing young girls

Benito Martinez / Courtesy of Shelby County Jail
Benito Martinez / Courtesy of Shelby County Jail

(WMC-TV) – Two children are still in the hospital after being stabbed in their own home by a family member Thursday.

The two little girls, ages seven and eight, and their mother, Patricia Covarruloias,  were stabbed at the Eastwood Park Apartments on Getwell Road. Police say it was 37-year-old Benito Martinez, the girls' uncle and the woman's brother-in-law, who held the knife.

Now, neighbors are saying it should have never come to this. They say they warned police months ago that Martinez was a threat.

"They were saying he had to do bodily harm to someone or himself before they could intervene," said neighbor Jeffrey Hines.

Memphis police confirm Martinez was implicated in a previous report for making an inappropriate proposition to a child, but investigators say the complainant did not pursue the allegations.

Shun Bowdery told Action News 5 that she warned Martinez not to approach her children when she learned of the incident.

"I said, 'Don't you think you're too old to be playing with kids?' And he just started laughing and I said, 'Well, don't come back around here no more,'" explained Bowdery.

Police said when they arrived on the scene after the stabbing was reported Wednesday, Martinez smiled and yelled, "I did it."

Hines works in a hospital facility and says Memphis police should consider revising their crisis intervention policies.

"I think it's just a shame that it had to come to this extent whereas they can do something about it," said Hines.

Action News 5 asked Memphis police about their current policy regarding complaints against people with mental illness. In their response, they said it depends on the circumstances and whether there is an immediate likelihood of serious harm to themselves or others.

Click here to read the Memphis Police Department's full response to our questions.

The two young girls are still in the hospital.  Their condition is not being released.  Their mother was released from the hospital Friday afternoon.

Martinez is charged with 3 counts of aggravated assault with a bond set at $300,000.

His criminal history includes another assault charge from September 2000 and obstructing a highway or passageway in August 2007.

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