Murder of Thornton children raises questions about accused mom’s mental state

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CaptureCops and their dogs scavenged the Gert Town area Thursday where horror struck a night before: the 3300 block of Audubon Court, where a 3 and 4-year-old brother and sister were allegedly murdered by their mother, 23-year-old Chelsea Thornton.

As Thornton sits in jail, stories of her mental illness are being circulated by family who attended Thornton’s first court hearing Thursday at Orleans Parish Criminal Court.

Reports indicate Thornton was a patient at area mental health facilities but was off her medication when she allegedlly shot her son dead and drowned her daughter in the family bathtub.

One place that could’ve helped–South East Louisiana Hospital–recently stopped servicing out patients, a byproduct of state budget cuts, and a serious governmental flaw says New Orleans mental health care expert and advocate Cecil Tebo.

“It’s like saying to the paraplegic, ‘You can’t have your wheelchair anymore,’ Tebo said.

Tebo, a clinical associate at Central City’s Exodus House, says since Hurricane Katrina, deep cuts have been making an already bad mental health care situation worse.

“The buck stops with our state, [which is] given the dollars to take care of those who can’t take care of themselves simply because of the extent of their own mental illness,” she said.

Chelsea Thornton was not issued bond Thursday.

She’s in Orleans Parish Prison charged with murder.

New Orleans police say she confessed to the killings.