Palolo mom charged
with murder attempt
Neighbors describe her
as a careful mother who
walked her son to school
The 9-year-old Palolo boy who police say was nearly drowned in a bathtub by his mother is "on his way to a full recovery," his family said yesterday.
His mother, 45-year-old Marlene Mexia, was charged yesterday with second-degree attempted murder. She has been on suicide watch in a Honolulu Police Department cellblock since her arrest at her Palolo Avenue home Tuesday morning. Her bail is $50,000. She is scheduled to make her initial court appearance this morning.
Marlene Mexia was charged yesterday with second-degree attempted murder.
In a written statement released by Kapiolani Medical Center, the boy's family said it is praying for Mexia, "who we know is also suffering deeply. We know how much she loves him and what a wonderful and devoted mother she has been since the day he was born. We believe with all our hearts that she would never intentionally hurt him."
Police said Mexia called 911 Tuesday and said she had drowned her son. Officers arrived at the home and found the boy floating on his back in the tub, according to a police affidavit.
His breathing was strained, and his nude body was pale except for red marks on his neck that "appeared to have been made by fingers," according to the affidavit.
Medical personnel told police that the boy's blood pressure "was very low and that he must have been close to death when police found him," the affidavit said.
The boy was taken to Kapiolani Medical Center for Women & Children where he was in serious but stable condition yesterday.
"We are happy to report that our son is doing well and is on his way to a full recovery," the family's statement said.
Police said they interviewed the boy's father, 51, who was not home at the time, but he could not explain his wife's actions.
"He's in shock," said Detective Philip Buchanan, of HPD's Child Abuse Detail.
The boy's uncle also expressed disbelief.
"There is no history of domestic abuse whatsoever with that child, so we're all surprised," said Richard Duran. "That child was his mother's pride and joy."
Duran, whose wife is the father's sister, said there was stress in Mexia's family after his brother-in-law recently lost his job as a vacuum cleaner sales manager when Eureka Co. closed. The father had worked for Eureka for 18 years, he said.
Police did not have Mexia undergo a mental health examination following her arrest because she seemed fine, said Lt. Britt Nishijo, HPD Child Abuse Detail supervisor. He said they are unaware of any past mental illness.
Mexia's neighbors said they were shocked and saddened by the alleged assault. One woman, who asked not to be identified, said the boy attended Aliiolani School with her children and played with them at Pukele Playground. She said Mexia walked her son to and from school every day and even walked him to the playground.
She added that Mexia was cautious about whom her son played with and that the son is well behaved.
Neighbors said Mexia moved into the neighborhood with her son and husband about four years ago into a cottage previously occupied by her husband's parents.