A despondent mother of three, who had been evicted from her Long Beach apartment, fatally stabbed her children early Thursday then leaped to her death from a 13-story building overlooking the hospital where the children had been taken.
Before killing herself, Laura Belizaire, 30, talked for about 30 minutes by telephone to Long Beach police detectives Logan Wren and George Fox, who were in the emergency room at St. Mary Medical Center. They said she refused to say where she was or say why she had stabbed her children.
"She said that she was despondent and had many personal problems and was going to kill herself," Wren said.
Unable to trace the call, the detectives could only wait after she hung up.
Within about 15 minutes, police heard that someone had jumped from the upper floors of the St. Mary Tower, a home for the elderly at 1120 Atlantic Ave., across the street from the hospital.
The woman's body was found in a small parking lot for visitors off Broadway Court, behind the tower. Paramedics rushed her to the hospital emergency room where she was pronounced dead at 8:36 a.m. She left a suicide note, but its content was not disclosed.
Belizaire's 3-month-old daughter, Summer Simril, had died at 7:04 a.m.; her oldest son, Rasheed Tucker, 9, had died at 8:20 a.m, and her 18-month-old son, Brian Simril, died in surgery at 11:13 a.m. All had been stabbed several times in the chest.
The bloody assault was reported shortly before 7 a.m when paramedics responded to a call from apartment house resident Darlene Tyler and found the three children in No. 3, a ground-floor apartment in a two-story stucco apartment at 1035 Lime Ave.
"We heard fighting, like somebody was being beaten up," said one woman, who did not want to be identified. "Then, I heard Brian say, 'No, mom! No, mom!' We heard a scream, and that was it. After that, Darlene, who lives in the apartment, ran screaming to the manager's apartment."
Another neighbor said that Laura Belizaire and her family had been evicted Wednesday "for not paying the rent" on an apartment across the hall from where the children were stabbed and that she had moved in with Tyler for the night.
"It's hard for me to believe," the neighbor said. "She was a good person but she had her bad times too. It's just hard for me to believe that she would kill her kids, especially the baby."
The manager of the apartment did not respond to knocks on the door or telephone calls Thursday.
Belizaire's sister, Mildred Belizaire, 29, told reporters that her sister, a welfare recipient, had been worried about being evicted.
"I knew she was going to do something. I didn't think she was going to kill her kids," she said. "She always said when she died she wanted her kids to be with her."
The Rev. Ralph J. Mosby, pastor of nearby St. John Baptist Church, said Laura Belizaire was a "very faithful member" who attended church regularly. "She was a very dutiful person to her children," he said.
In late July or early August, he said, she told him she expected to move and indicated that she was having a conflict with a male friend that she wanted to avoid.
"She was always very nervous and excited," the pastor said. "But she was a very warm person and a very diligent person in church."
Mosby said he had "no idea whatsoever" why the woman committed the acts. "That's a complete turnover of what I would expect of her," he said.
By noon Thursday, the tragedy had been played out and, ostensibly, Lime Avenue had returned to normal. The yellow-taped police line had been taken down from in front of the apartment house.
Residents emerged to buy fruit and vegetables from the pickup truck of Mario's Produce, which announced its presence with a piercing medley of tape-recorded tunes, including "Happy Birthday." A small blond boy named Tommy played with a black puppy and assured a passer-by that the dog didn't bite. And down the block, a pipe-smoking man watered his lawn.
At mid-afternoon Thursday, Detective Wren said that he and his partner, Fox, planned to talk to members of the family to determine a motive, if possible.
What they knew was that Laura Belizaire rose early Thursday, took clothes to her mother's house a few blocks away to wash them, hit her sister, Teresa, with a hammer but didn't harm her seriously, and returned to her apartment, stabbed her children and fled.