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Kristina Petrie. (Montgomery County Police Department)

Police: Md. mother tried to decapitate son with bow saw, claims she felt 'overwhelmed'

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By KEVIN LEWIS, WJLA

ASPEN HILL, Md. (WJLA) - A mother claims her son with autism required so much care and attention, she felt it best to slice off his head with a bow saw, Montgomery County police allege in a recently filed criminal charging affidavit obtained by ABC7.

Authorities have charged Kristina Petrie, 46, of Aspen Hill, Maryland, with attempted first-degree murder, first-degree child abuse and second-degree child abuse.

As police explain it, on Monday, March 12, an 11-year-old boy returned home from school to find his younger brother crying on the family sofa. His mother, Petrie, was nearby, bouncing in between bouts of laughter and tears.

The 11-year-old boy went upstairs to play video games. A short while later, Petrie reportedly appeared with a bow saw in hand, inquiring as to why her 11-year-old was not doing his homework.

According to the criminal charging affidavit, Petrie raised the razor-sharp saw and chased after her son, eventually pinning him down in a kneeling position. The 46-year-old then allegedly "jammed" the teeth of the saw against the back of her son's neck, "moving it back and forth multiple times."

The boy screamed, fearing his 5-foot-6, 175-pound mother was about to behead him. Somehow the child escaped, grabbing hold of the bow saw in the process. Petrie allegedly called her husband and confessed to attacking their eldest child.

Petrie’s husband took his wife to MedStar Montgomery Medical Center in Olney, Maryland, where she reportedly told staff she had felt "overwhelmed" and "was not doing enough to help her children with their autism." Petrie shared personal fears that both of her sons would "grow up to be a burden to society." Consequently, she believed they "needed to die." When staff asked Petrie why she was at the hospital, the 46-year-old allegedly stated she had "tried to kill her kids again."

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Investigators trained in child victimization met with the 11-year-old boy. Despite that meeting taking place on March 15 – three days after the alleged incident – authorities noted "several thin lines" and broken skin with “scabbing” on the boy’s neck. Red cuts and marks were also visible on his left shoulder, back and left hand. Digital photographs of the wounds were taken and submitted as evidence.

On Tuesday, Petrie appeared via jailhouse video during her bond review in Montgomery County District Court in Rockville, Maryland. John Moffett opted to hold the mother without bond, but suggested he was open to a bond reconsideration hearing should the defense provide additional documents. A date for that reconsideration hearing has not yet been set.

Speaking by telephone Tuesday evening, defense attorney Sharon Diamant told ABC7 her client had "absolutely no intent" to harm anyone. Instead, Diamant explained Petrie has been happily married to her husband for 15 years, has no prior criminal history and loves her children dearly. Diamant noted certain critical facts will come to light in due time, better explaining Petrie's "behavior." When asked about possible mental health issues, Diamant said she was unable to discuss such a topic at this time.

The Petrie family lives in a middle-class Aspen Hill neighborhood. A Honda minivan was parked in the driveway of their two-story, red-brick home Tuesday evening. Neighbors have expressed genuine surprise about the allegations. One resident described Petrie as a "lovely, stay-at-home mom" who he would often see shuttling her boys to and from events, plus working in the yard. Another resident explained the boys’ father works full-time in a “white-collar profession.”

Petrie is scheduled for a preliminary hearing in Montgomery County District Court on April 20. Should she be found guilty on all three pending criminal counts, a judge could sentence the middle-age mother to life in prison, plus 40 years.

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