A 4-year-old boy was fatally stabbed by his mother Friday night at a St. Petersburg apartment complex, police said.
Tasha Trotter, 40, is accused of killing Joseph Artis, her son, according to the St. Petersburg Police Department.
"I was devastated. I couldn't believe it," said next door neighbor Ashli Monroe.
Monroe's son played every day with Joseph, who she said went by the nickname "Turtle." Monroe's mother was the one who flagged down police Friday evening to report the stabbing.
"She heard the lady screaming. She came outside and the mom was on top of the son stabbing him to death," Monroe said.
According to police, the boy's grandmother, Carolyn Trotter, has had custody of Joseph for the past three years. Friday, Trotter had come over to the apartment complex to visit. The grandmother told investigators that Trotter was acting oddly.
Police told ABC Action News Trotter has a history of mental illness.
For unknown reasons, Trotter suddenly grabbed a kitchen knife during the visit and went into another room to Joseph and stabbed him repeatedly, according to police. The grandmother and another relative tried to intervene but were unsuccessful. That's when they ran outside to get help.
Witnesses alerted officers directing traffic nearby.
"They attempted to do CPR when the mother came out and actually placed the child down on the concrete, but it was to no avail," said Mike Kovacsev, St. Petersburg Police Department’s acting assistant chief.
Joseph was taken to Bayfront Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
Trotter has been charged with first-degree murder. She did not give a statement to detectives when she was questioned after the incident.
The motive remains unknown.