LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — Las Vegas valley law enforcement is grappling with two separate incidents in the last three weeks, both involving parents they believe harmed or even killed their own children.
On Oct. 8. a mother and son died in a house fire in west Las Vegas that authorities are now investigating as a murder-suicide, and in a separate incident on Oct. 21, a mother was shot and killed by police in Henderson after authorities say she was repeatedly stabbing her son.
"Just the fact of hearing she stabbed her own 7-year-old child. That's really alarming,” said Brandon Larratt, a neighbor in Henderson.
"It's a very sad scenario that occurred. When I first heard exactly what had happened -- it's sort of incredulous really -- that anything like that could happen," said another neighbor, George Larratt.
Police say there was a struggle with 27-year-old Claudia Nadia Rodriguez before they opened fire. Rodriguez had a lengthy criminal history, being arrested four times for domestic violence. She was convicted once on those charges.
In Las Vegas, police say they are investigating the deaths of 47-year-old Renai Palmer and her 6-year-old son, Gavin, as a murder-suicide. Firefighters say the two were found in the bedroom that was on fire, and the boy reportedly had gasoline on his clothing.
"All we can do is say a prayer for people that are having difficulties and try to move on. All we can do is live our lives and try to live them as decently as possible,” George Larratt said.
Staff members at Olive Crest, a non-profit specializing in helping child abuse victims, say there are things to watch out for.
"If you see a child that's home a lot, and they're out in the front yard, and they're kind of by themselves most of the time. Mom's not really around, you don't see and adult presence,” said Laura Steeps, the family preservation manager at Olive Crest. But she also says there are no sure-tell signs of child abuse.
"Unfortunately, a lot of the signs are hidden,” Steeps said.
If parents feel overwhelmed with childcare, there are services available for them.
"We'll provide a temporary host family that the kids can go to until she can stabilize,” said Martin Malmberg, program manager for safe families and children at Olive Crest.
It's advice this neighbor agrees with.
"Just work the problem. Don't emotionalize it and don't take it out on others. Just work the problem and try to make it better,” George Latratt said.
Anyone wishing to seek help or services from Olive Crest can call their hot line at (702) 960-1436, the Nevada line at (702) 685-3459, or learn more information at OliveCrest.org.