The warning signs were there. Otty Sanchez, a schizophrenic with a history of hospitalisations, wasn't taking medication and was depressed after her son's birth, the boy's father said. A simple request seemed to set her off, alarming him and his family.
Yet, the 33-year-old woman was staying in a house where she had access to samurai swords. Child welfare officials were never called.
Instead, Sanchez's troubles became apparent to authorities when they found her before dawn Sunday screaming that she had killed her baby. Her 3 1/2-week-old son was dismembered in a scene so gruesome that police were left shaken.
"Maybe we missed" warning signs, San Antonio Police Chief William McManus said. "I don't know."
Sanchez remained hospitalised yesterday recovering from self-inflicted cuts to her torso and an attempt to slice her own throat. The former home health care worker is charged with capital murder and is being held on $1m bond. Calls to relatives were not immediately returned and it was not clear whether Sanchez had an attorney.
Authorities said Sanchez tried killing herself after butchering her newborn son, Scott Wesley Buchholz-Sanchez, with a steak knife and two swords while her sister and two nieces, ages 5 and 7, slept in another room.
Sanchez told police - who described a scene so horrifying that investigators could barely speak to one another - that the devil made her kill, mutilate and eat parts of her only child.
Scott W. Buchholz, the infant's father who met Sanchez six years ago while they were studying to be pharmacists assistants, said he isn't buying it.
He said although his girlfriend had postpartum depression and told him a week before the killing that she was schizophrenic, she didn't appear unstable.
He wants prosecutors to pursue the death penalty.
"She killed my son. She should burn in hell," SAID Buchholz, 33.
Otty Sanchez's medical history is muddled. A family member said Sanchez had been undergoing psychiatric treatment and that a hospital called looking for her several months ago.
Gloria Sanchez, Otty's aunt, said her niece had been "in and out of a psychiatric ward."
In May 2008, Otty Sanchez's mother, Manuela Sanchez, called police after her daughter didn't return from a trip to Austin, saying she was concerned about her daughter's safety.
Manuela Sanchez told police she suspected Otty was into drugs and specifically told police she wasn't suffering from any mental issues.
Buchholz, who is himself schizophrenic and takes six anti-psychotic and anti-convulsive medications, said Otty had postpartum depression and had been going to regular counselling sessions after the birth, but refused to take prescription medication for her depression. Still, he said she seemed fine.
"She seemed like a a very caring, loving mother. She held him, she breast fed him. She did everything for him that was nice," he said.
On 20 July, Sanchez was taken to the hospital for depression and released less than a day later, Buchholz said. Sanchez told him that she was schizophrenic and was going to live with her parents and sister. Sanchez was arrested at her mother's house, where police found her and the dead infant.