LAKELAND, Fla. - A Lakeland mother's plan to regain custody of her kids may have backfired, big-time.
Investigators in Pitt County, North Carolina, have charged Leticia Silva with four counts of solicitation to commit murder, after they said she tried to get her seven- and nine-year-old girls to kill their own grandparents.
The grandparents have had custody of the kids for the last seven years. They live in North Carolina, while Silva lived in a home in Lakeland with her boyfriend and his mother, Mary Snell.
"I just don't believe that. She's not that type of person," Snell said Tuesday in Lakeland.
Back in December, investigators said Silva mailed the kids a pocket knife from her home in Lakeland. With it, they say, were specific instructions on how to kill their grandparents using that knife and a steak knife in the kitchen.
"The grandmother actually noticed a knife in one of the kids' bedroom, underneath a pillow," said Detective Charles Mitchell with the Pitt County Sheriff's Office.
Snell said Silva has been working to regain custody of her children after she served prison time for drug possession.
"I believe they just want to keep them, and just won’t accept the fact that they’re not their kids. They’re her kids," Snell said. "I just don’t believe that what they’re saying is true. I just don’t see it in her."
Last month, with an arrest warrant in hand, a team of Lakeland officers stopped by Silva's house and IHOP, where she worked, but she was nowhere to be found.
On Monday, she turned herself in to North Carolina Authorities.
One woman who lives near the grandparents told television station WCTI that she doubts the kids would have ever acted out on her alleged plan.
"They're the sweetest little girls and I don't think they would hurt anybody," she said.
Investigators put it this way: "It's hard to say what a child is going to do," said Detective Mitchell. "They said they love the grandparents very much."
Now locked up on $5 million bond, Silva has a much bigger battle to fight than custody.
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