New details in case of mother charged with murder; child had 'at least 50 stab wounds,' docs say

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Posted at 10:24 PM, May 12, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-20 18:17:23-04

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. - Charmaine Wells has questions.

“I wonder what was going through her mind,” she asked. “I saw all of these cars, so I didn’t know what happened.”

She recalls what she saw Monday night in the 300 block of Hilltop Drive in Newport News as police arrested one of her neighbors, Sarah Ganoe, who's charged with stabbing her two young children, including her 10-month-old son, Zell Howard, who was pronounced dead at the scene.

“She kept hollering for her kids,” Wells told News 3. “Why would she want to take her children? She brought them into the world.”

Wednesday, News 3 obtained documents, including Ganoe’s arrest warrants and a complaint detailed by police.

The complaint goes on to say Zell's father said he got a voice text from Ganoe while at work telling him, "not to be sad, but the house would be bloody when he got home."

Zell's father called 911, and when he got home, he found a large amount of blood in numerous bedrooms and Zell, Ganoe and her 8-year-old daughter lying on a bed.

The complaint also states Zell had "multiple stab wounds to his chest," while the girl had "at least 50 stab wounds throughout her body,” as well as other injuries too graphic to share.

The girl was taken to CHKD, where she had surgery and was listed as critical but stable.

Officers say in the complaint Ganoe admitted to stabbing her children multiple times with a knife.

So far, police have not released a motive in this case.

Another neighbor who did not want to be identified remembers a recent encounter with Ganoe and her kids.

“The kids were sitting on the steps and she was sitting on the curb, and she was just laying out there on the sidewalk,” the neighbor said. “I was like, 'Something is wrong with that one.'"

A spokesperson for the Newport News Sheriff's Office confirmed Ganoe is in a ward of the Newport News City Jail.

“If I had a chance to talk to her, to comfort her... but I didn’t get that chance,” Wells said. “I hope and I pray to God that she will get help.”

Meanwhile, Newport News Police say they have a department psychologist talking with folks involved in the case.

Wells and other neighbors also plan on taking part in a community walk held by police that’s set to take place in the neighborhood at 4 p.m. on Thursday, May 13.

“It’s time for everybody to get involved,” Wells said.

A spokesperson for the Newport News Police Department also confirmed the case has been turned over to the Commonwealth’s Attorney.

Ganoe appeared in court on May 20, and her preliminary hearing is scheduled for August 12. She was issued a court-appointed attorney and asked to complete a competency evaluation.