A mother who was charged with killing her 8-year-old son in their North Buffalo apartment early Wednesday morning explained to police that she was “saving him from going to hell.”
Authorities said that mental illness no doubt played a role in Jessica L. Murphy’s stabbing of her son, Jacob Noe.
“Everyone has to die. He had to die. I am saving him from going to hell,” Murphy told police in a statement that was later filed at Buffalo City Court.
And when officers tried to obtain more information, she said: “How can you ask me this after I just murdered my baby?”
After her arraignment on a charge of second-degree murder, the 29-year-old mother was taken to the Erie County Holding Center, where she was placed under “enhanced” watch by members of the mental health staff.
Jacob was a second-grader at Tapestry Charter School in North Buffalo and was known for his intelligence and his love of dogs, according to friends of the family and neighbors.
On Murphy’s Facebook page, two impressions emerged from her entries – one of a devoted mother who took her son on trips and baked cupcakes for school and the other of a woman who wrestled with fear and became annoyed when concern was expressed for her well-being.
Last Thursday, she wrote:
“I guess people are calling my mom to complain that they are worried about me because I like to post weird things on here. Please stop calling my mom. I assure you that I am 100% okay with who I am. I cannot be anything but my self and i will not be otherwise for the sake of keeping you from worrying. delete me if you can’t help but worry. its not my problem, but yours.”
That same day, she also wrote:
“nobody knows what is best for me but myself … I have to do what I want to or what I feel is right with whatever I already know, weather that be a great deal or nothing at all … and take whatever risks my nature is brave enough to allow. …”
In March, she wrote, “Goodbye Fear … I had to get to know everything about you in order to conquer you, but you wont be seeing me ever again.”
That same month she and Jacob took a vacation to Disney World. Last month they went on a camping trip to Allegany State Park with other family members.
Wednesday, neighbors said they had a difficult time reconciling the Jessica Murphy they knew with the one accused of fatally stabbing her son in the chest just before 1:45 a.m. in their second-floor apartment on Lovering Avenue, north of Hertel Avenue.
“We heard the screaming: ‘Help me, help me.’ It was a woman screaming,” next-door neighbor Leslie Alagna said of the words that shattered the normally quiet block. “A minute later, there were police cars and an ambulance on the street. It was terrible.”
Jacob died at about 2:30 a.m. in Women & Children’s Hospital.
Alagna recalled happier times last summer. “I’d see them out in the backyard, him and a baby in a blow-up swimming pool.”
Erica Kuntz, who lives downstairs from Murphy, described Jacob as an “awesome” child who wanted to play with her two Boston terriers whenever he spotted them. “He always wanted to play with Harvey and Chip,” Kuntz said, adding that she never observed Murphy acting in a strange manner.
Nancy Beenau, out walking her dog Comet, said Jacob and his mother were a familiar and apparently happy sight on a street whose residents are proud of their diverse neighborhood.
“No one wins in this,” Beenau said. “It doesn’t matter where you live, stuff happens. It was a 3-year-old and a 14-year-old on Monday.”
That shooting on Fennimore Avenue in the city’s Bailey-Kensington section, which Beenau referred to, critically wounded the two boys, who remain at Women & Children’s, where authorities say they are recovering.
Unlike the cheerful Facebook photos Murphy posted of herself and her son, a mug shot released Wednesday by police shows her blankly staring at the camera. It was taken hours before her appearance in court, where Public Defender Kenneth L. Goldberg entered a plea of not guilty on her behalf.
At the request of Assistant District Attorney James F. Bargnesi, who heads the Homicide Bureau in the Erie County District Attorney’s Office, Murphy was held without bail. A hearing was set for 2 p.m. Monday in City Court.