Home Scandal and Gossip Photos: Why did Shanynthia Gardner stab her four children to death?

Photos: Why did Shanynthia Gardner stab her four children to death?

Shanynthia Gardner,
Pictured Shanynthia Gardner's five children, four of whom she butchered to death. Images via facebook.
Shanynthia Gardner,
Pictured Shanynthia Gardner’s five children, four of whom she butchered to death. Images via facebook.

What led to Shanynthia Gardner a Memphis, Tennessee mother savagely killing four of her five children? Now faces first degree murder.

Shanynthia Gardner a 29 year old Shelby County, Memphis, Tennessee woman has been charged with first degree murder after using a butcher’s knife to stab her four toddler children to death.

The children’s murder came Friday just before 1pm at a Southeast Shelby apartment complex, the Greens of Irene apartment complex near Hacks Cross and E. Shelby Drive.

Killed in the attack according to the Commercial Appeal was Shanynthia Gardner’s 4 year old son, Tallen Gardner, along with three daughters,  three year old daughter, Sya Gardner, her 2 year old sister, Sahvi Gardner along with 6 month old baby girl, Yahzi Gardner.

Surviving the attack was the woman’s 7 year old son, who detectives have yet to describe how the boy prevailed?

The children according to a report via wreg were discovered with deep lacerations to the throat with Shanynthia Gardner also having cuts to her neck and wrists, suggesting that her children had struggled against their mother.

Why did a Memphis mother stab her four children to death?

Shanynthia Gardner40

Shanynthia Gardner
Pictured Shanynthia Gardner, her husband, Martin Gardner and their five children.

Offered Shelby County Sheriff Bill Oldham: ‘This is a terrible act, an egregious act that has shocked, I believe, the community, and has shocked our staff to the core.’

Adding: ‘One of the most difficult questions in any investigation always is “why?” It’s a tragic scene and one that shocked us to our core.’

Notice of the children’s deaths came after emergency dispatchers received a call to the home from a neighbor.

A report via fox13 telling of Shanynthia Gardner’s 7-year-old son, the sole survivor of the massacre running out of the house, screaming for help.

His sister, he said, had been stabbed.

The neighbor told authorities they saw the mother come out of the home with a large knife in her hand, then re-enter.

At the time of the murders, responding authorities told of holding the children’s father, Martin Gardner at the scene, with  officials later telling WSMV that the children’s father was not in the home at the time the stabbings.

According to relatives, the couple married two years ago.

Of note, the Department of Children’s Services confirmed not having a history with the family. 

KFDA – NewsChannel 10 / Amarillo News, Weather, Sports

Offering clues as to what may have motivated Shanynthia Gardner are police documents from 2015 which state Gardner was reported missing back on March 19 just days after telling her family she felt like someone was trying to hurt her and her family.

The behavior started on March 16 when Gardner reportedly left work suddenly, picked up her kids and left.

That same night she called her husband from Corinth.

Gardner’s mother said at the time her daughter had been stressed, stressing the behavior ‘was unlike her.’

She also said her daughter had not been diagnosed with a mental illness.

On the day she went missing, she was later located inside the St. Francis Hospital Emergency Room.

Responding to the attack, Mark Billingsley, police commissioner for Memphis, branded the attack ‘an act of pure evil’, questioning what would motivate such a crime.

He added: ‘We lost four children today on a weekend when we should be celebrating independence. I hope the community will embrace this family.’ 

The commissioner added that in his opinion the government should invest in mental health treatment.

‘A gigantic percentage of people who are incarcerated today have mental health issues,‘ he said.

Contemplated neighbor Patricia Johnson: ‘I can’t fathom that. What would babies do to make you do that?’

Shanynthia Gardner
Pictured, a 3-year-old daughter, Sya Gardner (left) and 4-year-old brother, Tallen Gardner (right).
Shanynthia Gardner
Pictured Shanynthia Gardner’s other slain children.

Responding to why Shanynthia Gardner chose to kill her four children, Dr. Phillip Resnick, a professor of psychiatry at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, while acknowledging having no explicit knowledge of the case, offered plausible motives.

Told the psychologist via the commercialappeal:  The first is a warped form of altruistic love: the mother is suicidal and believes the children would be better off joining her in heaven than living without their mother on this earth, he said. The second is child battery that leads to a death.

The third is killing of unwanted infants — for instance, the baby might stand in the way of a marriage.

“The most dangerous day of your life is the day you were born,” he said.

The fourth common reason for killing a child is revenge against a spouse.

And the fifth reason is psychotic behavior for which there’s no rational explanation at all, he said.

Come Saturday, Shanynthia Gardner was charged with four counts of aggravated child abuse-endangerment, four counts of aggravated child abuse, four counts of aggravated child abuse-neglect, and four counts of first degree murder.

She is scheduled to appear in court July 5.

A Go Fund Me campaign has since been set up by a friend of the children’s father to raise money for funeral expenses.

Read the page in part, ‘Tragically four beautiful children lost their lives for unknown reasons. They leave behind a loving father that takes every breath with his children in mind.’

So far, the fund-raising effort had raised over $4,000 of a $50,000 goal.

Shanynthia Gardner
Shanynthia Gardner
Shanynthia Gardner
Shanynthia Gardner’s children.
Pictured Shanynthia Gardner's slain daughters.
Pictured Shanynthia Gardner’s slain daughters.
  • Rob Roy


  • BriteRed

    Thank you so much for the information! I was lucky to deliver at a hospital that did encourage SSC, and it was a practice I engaged in. If I were to have another baby, I might try to find a solution, but a 44, I’m done, lol! 🙂

  • BriteRed

    Thank you so much for saying that, Rob Roy! 🙂 Wishing you all of the best! <3

  • Josephine Carroll

    Sorry I took so long to respond to you. I’m retired and a cold caused problems with my asthma so now I’m on oxygen. Before I retired I was a social worker. I most often worked in early childhood development.

    I have information about hospital practices and how they affect mothers and newborns but it may be better for you emotionally if you do no read this. You decide. You can do your own research on skin to skin contract also known as kangaroo care and its effects on breastfeeding.

    The source of the hormonal problems that cause difficulties in breastfeeding can also cause Post Partem Depression. Anything that interferes with constant skin to skin contact between mother and newborn can have a negative effect on mother’s hormones.

    Skin-to-skin Contact involves placing a baby, naked or wearing only a diaper and a cap for warmth, on the mother’s bare chest immediately after birth.

    Not only is breastfeeding initiated and more successfully established when there is early SSC. The volume of mother’s milk is greatly increased, and the frequency of feeds provided also increases with SSC.

    Research has shown that early skin-to-skin contact between a mother and baby at birth helps women breastfeed successfully and for longer.

    In many cultures, babies are generally placed naked on their mother’s bare chest immediately at birth. Historically, this was necessary for the baby’s survival.

    Nowadays, modern hospital routines often involve initial separation, where babies are first dressed and undergo various routine procedures before being given to their mothers. This may significantly disrupt early mother-infant interactions – with harmful effects.

    A baby knows instinctively that she is dependent on her mother to survive, and so if they are separated, the baby experiences distress and the mother does not experience the release of hormones that triggers her strong, protective ‘mothering’ instincts.

    There are many labor and postnatal “routines” that are known to negatively affect breastfeeding and directly or indirectly cause breastfeeding problems. Some of these actions are: delayed first suckling[8, 9] often caused by unnecessary separation of mother and infant[10]; supplementary feeds when not given for medical reasons[11, 12] especially if the supplements are given by bottle instead of a cup to infants requiring multiple supplements[13]. Some other medical interventions like caesarean section, epidural and spinal anesthesia are often connected with delayed first suckling, breastfeeding problems and partial breastfeeding.

    Research has proven that separation is harmful to both baby and mother.

    This information has been around for over 12 years but for reasons of convenience many hospitals still do not put the best interest of women and children first.

    This was not something you had any control over. I’m sorry that this happened to you.

  • I think it should be me thanking you and why I post because thru thick or thin every once in awhile one comes across someone wonderful like you. I wouldn’t say it if I didn’t mean it Red. Thank you, the pleasure has been all mine.

  • BriteRed

    Lol! We all can be nutty at times. 😉 Thank you for the kind comments. I will keep my chin up, for sure. Best wishes to you, and thank you for the conversation. 🙂

  • I don’t think having a screw or two loose means a person is insane Red. It means their thought process is off a tad.
    You sound like a wonderful person. I come across nutters every day and you don’t fit the profile as one.
    Keep your chin up and smile as the world smiles with you. 🙂

  • BriteRed

    It’s interesting- I don’t get the impression that you are attempting to be hurtful, but I will admit, the “you walk a fine line in the insanity dept anyway” does sting a bit, even though I know you don’t actually know me, other than what I have shared in my post above. It’s just one of the potential hazards of online social interactions, I guess- getting your feelings hurt from anonymous strangers. :0

    I can’t say that you are wrong, as there is no concrete definition for “a screw or two loose” but I feel quite confident that I would not qualify as “insane.” I would like to think I am a pretty well-adjusted person, and I can’t think of anything about my mental state or lifestyle that would have predicted postpartum OCD. I have successfully raised one child to adulthood, and responsibly care for my two elementary-aged and preschool-aged children. I am in a very happy marriage of 14 years. I am starting my 20th year as an elementary school teacher this fall. My career is successful and I have a lot of responsibility and respect at my school. I am also half-way to earning my masters degree. I would say that being kind and caring are my dominate personality traits, and I think I am pretty funny. 🙂 So, I would say that I am relatively “normal.” Although at my age (mid-40’s), I no longer believe there really is such thing as “normal” when it come to people. Everyone I have ever known has their quirks and their issues.

    The one thing that I have experienced that would seem a possible predictor of the experience would be that I developed PMDD (pre-menstrual dysphoric disorder, a severe form of PMS) while taking birth control pills in my mid-twenties. The symptoms include sadness or hopelessness, anxiety or tension, extreme moodiness, and/or marked irritability or anger. I had all of the above.

    After a few months of thinking that I was losing my mind, I went to see the gynecologist to ask if she thought it was possible the birth control pills were causing the PMDD. She said absolutely and took me off them immediately. My PMDD symptoms stopped and never returned. My guess is that my body/mind is very sensitive to hormone fluxuations, such as those cause by the hormonal birth control pills and naturally in childbirth. I guess it’s a good thing that my family is now complete. I guess I should hope that I don’t have a rough time with menopause…

    I may or may not have disproved your theory that people who have postpartum depression have a screw loose or two from the get go, but I do sincerely appreciate you saying that you are glad that I survived it. I am, too. 🙂

  • BriteRed

    Thank you for your kind comment! I agree, it is important to de-stigmatize mental health issues. Your suggestion for stabilizing hormones are helpful. It is possible that my bout of PPD could have been related to the fact that I was unable to produce enough milk to breastfeed. I also know that I was pretty emotional about not being able to breastfeed, as I held on to the hope with each child that my breasts would “work,” lol! I did have guilt and disappointment related to that.

    My mother was very instrumental in helping me quickly “get over” those feelings. She had been successful at breastfeeding my sister and me as infants, but she reminded me that my children were healthy regardless of being bottle fed, so I had no reason to feel like a failure. It’s funny, no matter how old we get, (for most of us) we still need our moms! <3

  • Josephine Carroll

    Thank you for being so brave and talking about mental illness. The more we talk about mental illness the less stigma that is attached. I’m glad you had a husband to support you and access to mental health care.

    While we don’t have the ability to predict we do know factors that increase your risk. A previous history of mental illness and PPD with a previous child are key. Not having a C-section or having what they call a gentle C-section where the baby is placed on the mother chest and she can breastfeed when the baby is ready, go a long way to stabilizing the mother hormones.

    Skin to skin contact contact and breastfeeding cause oxytocin to go way up and cortizol to go way down. PPD is easier to prevent than it is to treat.

  • I’ve not only heard and read of this clinical diagnosis but have seen postpartum depression in action and think there may be a screw or two loose from the get go. The pregnancy only exacerbated the situation.
    I’m glad you survived it and moved on.

  • BriteRed

    When you said “you”, do you mean me, personally? Or are you referring to when people make an insanity plea their defense during a trial?

  • Perhaps so but I think you walk a fine line in the insanity dept anyways.

  • BriteRed

    Your psychologist is an idiot. He offers 5 plausible explanations for this tragedy and post-partum psychosis isn’t one of them?? Have we learned nothing since the Andrea Yates case? Mrs. Gardner had her last 4 children practically back-to-back. She had an episode last year. It’s seems the MOST probable explanation that her hormones caused mental illness.

    I experienced post-partum OCD. In my case, the hormones caused “intrusive thoughts” (involuntary visualizations) of harming my child. It was terrifying. I was brave enough (and the illness allowed me) to confide in my family and seek psychiatric help. I learned that my illness causes an amplified “maternal protective” response. I became so afraid of something harming my child that my mind decided I was the danger. My husband would come home from work to find that I had unplugged and turned the microwave around backwards, placed the knife rack in a plastic bag and put it outside in the backyard, and refused to carry the baby down the stairs without buckling her into the car seat carrier first. After 2 months, my hormones leveled off and the thoughts went away. By my third child, I knew to expect the symptoms, but it made each of my first few months with my children scary and sad.

    I am so glad I didn’t have post-Partum psychosis. It is not a choice. I can’t imagine what it will be like to be Mrs. Gardener when (or if) she recovers and realizes what she has done. We need to educate husbands and families of the signs and symptoms, remove the stigma of asking for help, and make sure our mental health system is educated and prepared to support and heal these mothers. The lives of children depend on it as well.

  • Bill Cenne

    In the facebook photo on the video: those are the eyes of an insane person.
    may her tiny babies find peace in heaven.
    “Vengeance is mine; I will repay”, saith the Lord.

  • sounds like she was dusted and thought the kids were little devils. Needs toxicology test.