UPDATE: Grandmother Accused of Stabbing Grandson

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ARRESTED | Martha White

UPDATED
By Julie Montanaro
August 26, 2014

A Tallahassee grandmother accused of killing her six year old grandson has just been indicted for first degree murder.

Martha White is accused of stabbing her grandson Mason Rhinehart to death in the bathroom of the family's Killearn Lakes home earlier this month.

Today, a grand jury indicted White on charges of first degree murder and child abuse and prosecutors say they'll now file their intent to seek the death penalty against her.

"We feel like the case warrants the highest punishment permissible and that's the death penalty," prosecutor Georgia Cappleman said.

A judge has ordered White to undergo two mental health evaluations to determine if she is competent to stand trial. A decision has not yet been made on that.


UPDATED
By Julie Montanaro
August 18, 2014

A grandmother accused of killing her grandson will soon undergo back to back psychological evaluations.

The judge issued that order late Friday after a psychologist described Martha White as "delusional and psychotic."

White was arrested August 5th soon after deputies found her grandson stabbed to death in the family's Killearn Lakes home.

Mason Rhinehart was six years old.

White's attorney asked the judge to order a competency review after quoting a psychologist as saying "White is delusional, psychotic and incompetent and needs treatment at the state hospital."

The judge ordered two psychological evaluations within the next 15 days.

The order signed by Circuit Judge Frank Sheffield says a competency hearing will be scheduled if the state and defense experts disagree.


UPDATED
By Julie Montanaro
August 8, 2014

A Tallahassee boy - whose grandmother is accused of stabbing him to death - will be buried tomorrow.

6 year old Mason Rhinehart was killed just two days before his 7th birthday.

Arrest papers say his grandmother, Martha White, stabbed him to death in the bathroom of the family's Killearn Lakes home.

White is charged with first degree murder and is being held in the Leon County Jail without bond.

A memorial service will be held tomorrow, Saturday August 9th at 2:30 p.m.. It will be held at Restoration Place Tallahassee on 3881 North Monroe Street. The boys' obituary says the family welcomes anyone who wants to show their love and support.

Abbey Funeral Home posted this obituary:

Mason Robert Rhinehart-White

Born: August 07, 2007
Died: August 05, 2014

Mason Robert Rhinehart-White was born on August 7, 2007 and departed on his heavenly journey August 5, 2014.

He loved life and lived it to the fullest. He met each day with a smile on his face and love in his heart. Though his life was way too short he touched everyone he met with his kind consideration and exuberant spirit. He was an honor student at Killearn Lakes Elementary, a proud member of the Bradfordville Buccaneers, an Awana Sparks member and an active weightlifter.

He leaves behind to cherish his memory his loving Parents, Spring and Zack; His devoted older Brother and Best friend, Aden; his Maternal Grandparents, George and Dean Tillman-Ivanoff of Panama City, Bob Rhinehart of Tallahassee, and GrandMary Smith of Havana; Uncles Rodean and John Rhinehart; his first Cousins, Adam, Andrew and Nicholas Rhinehart, Amanda Hill, his youngest cousin Ivy Grace Rhinehart who he adored and a very large extended family.

He was predeceased in death by his Paternal Grandfather, Jack White; His Uncle Robert Rhinehart and his Aunt Cindy Rhinehart.

Mason’s Celebration of Life service will be held at Restoration Place Tallahassee located at 3881 North Monroe Street, Tallahassee, FL 32303, August 9, 2014 at 2:30. The Rhinehart-White family welcomes anyone that wants to show their love and support to feel free to attend the service for a refreshing word for the soul. The committal service will conclude at Tallahassee Memory Gardens.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made at www.gofundme.com/Memorial-for-Mason. The online guestbook is at www.abbeyfh.com.


Updated
By Julie Montanaro
August 7, 2014

Tallahassee, FL -- A grandmother accused of stabbing her 6 year old grandson to death will be held in jail without bond.

Martha White appeared before a judge via video link from the jail this morning. She wore a blue jail jumpsuit and did not say anything except her name.

White is accused of stabbing her grandson Mason Rhinehart at the family's Killearn Lakes home on Tuesday after telling him she had a surprise for him.

The public defender asked the judge for permission to go to the jail today to test White for drugs and alcohol.

The prosecutor says next they will take the case to a grand jury for review. He says it's too early to make a decision on whether White will face the death penalty.

UPDATED
By Julie Montanaro
August 6, 2014 - 6pm

Tallahassee, FL - A grandmother accused of stabbing her own grandson is now behind bars.

In a statement released by a family attorney, Mason Rhinehart's father shared a horrifying account of what happened inside that home, and he says it all started when Martha White told the boys she had a surprise for them.

We must warn you, especially those of you with children, the details of this story are graphic.

Martha White arrived at the jail almost 24 hours to the minute after she is accused of stabbing her six year old grandson to death in the bathroom of the family's Killearn Lakes home.

Deputies tracked her down at a nearby park. Arrest papers say she was covered in blood and had a bottle of wine and some xanax with her.

White will now trade this hospital gown for a jail jumpsuit as she awaits trial for first degree murder.

"We are not clear on the motive at this point in time and that's one of many things that investigators are continuing to dig into," LCSO Spokesman James McQuaig said.

Arrest papers paint a terrifying picture of what happened inside this home on Bass Ridge Trail Tuesday. 6 year old Mason Rhinehart and his 8 year old brother Aidan were watching video games, it says, when White told them she had a surprise for them.

The older brother told detectives White took Mason into the bathroom and closed the door. He says he heard his brother screaming "Don't kill me Grandma!" but when he tried to open the door it was locked.

In a statement released by a family attorney, the boys father Zack White said the brother called him and told him what was happening.

"I told Aidan to pound on the door just as loud as he could, he said. He yelled his brother's name. When there was no answer I told Aiden to go and hide."

Arrest papers say Aidan told detectives he saw his grandmother leave the house with a bottle of wine in her hand and told him she had a surprise for him too.

We have exclusive video of Martha White soon after deputies handcuffed her.

In a statement released by a family attorney, Zack White said his mother was a registered nurse who had recently retired.

She had no history of mental illness, the statement said, and had given no indication that morning of being upset or disturbed.

She'd been watching the boys all summer, he said. "She doted on them. She was their grandmother. It was like any other day."

Neighbors are still in shock.

"You know the grandma is usually the one who sugar coats everything and gives you the candy and it's really fun and we couldn't believe that a grandmother out of all people would do such a horrible thing," neighbor Austin Sandel said.

An LCSO spokesman says they are still trying to pinpoint a motive.

Arrest papers say Martha White told deputies who arrested her she was "fed up" with the boys' mother.

The statement released by Zack White's attorney says Mason would have celebrated his seventh birthday tomorrow.

Neighbors tell us Mason Rhinehart and his brother would often play outside with other kids in the neighborhood and he was set to start second grade at Killearn Lakes Elementary later this month.

We talked with grief counselors today about how best to discuss tragedies like this with children.

Counselors at Lee's Place have been providing counseling for grieving families and friends for nearly 15 years.

Director Brenda Rabalais says the first thing parents must do is reassure their children that they are safe.

Then she says parents must answer their children's questions about what happened honestly and directly with more details for older children and fewer details for younger ones.

"We can help them in the short run after a tragedy has happened by talking about their feelings, let them draw their feelings, let them plant something in their memory, talk about all the good times you had with that person ... it's to really let it flow," Rabalais said, "and it's hard but it's very healing for a child to make sure that's not a taboo topic."

Counselors say if your children want to bake cookies, write cards, or bring flowers to a grieving family help them to do so, don't discourage them.

And continue to answer their questions as honestly as you can whenever they come up, Rabalais said.


By: Eyewitness News
August 6, 2014 - 1:30pm

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- The grandmother accused of fatally stabbing her grandson is now out of the hospital and behind bars in the Leon County jail.

Authorities have released more information on the stabbing that took the life of 6-year-old Mason Rhinehart.

Deputies say that when they arrived on the scene at 7712 Bass Ridge Trail late Monday morning they found Mason Rhinehart lying on the bathroom floor with stab wounds.

When deputies spoke with Rhinehart's older brother, he said that he and Mason were playing video games and their grandmother, identified as Martha M. White, told the boys that she had a surprise for them.

White then took Mason into the bathroom and shut the door. Mason was later heard crying and saying "I don't want to die, please don't kill me."

Mason's brother called their father and hid. He later tried to open the bathroom door where White and Mason were but said that the door was locked. He said he saw White leaving the residence holding a bottle of wine saying that she had a surprise for him too.

According to Mason's parents, White was babysitting the children while they were at work. When deputies arrived, White had already left the residence but her vehicle was later discovered at the dead end of Valley Creek Drive, about a half mile from the residence.

When they located White at a nearby park, deputies say she was covered in blood and in possession of a bottle of wine and Xanax.

The LSCO affidavit states that White was uttering spontaneously that she had been tortured for years by the children's parents and she was fed up. When asked about the blood on her, she stated that it wasn't her blood and it belonged to one of the children.


By: Julie Montanaro
August 5, 2014 - 6:30pm

Tallahassee, FL - A 6-year-old boy was stabbed to death in his own home in Tallahassee this morning and his grandmother is now accused of killing him.

The crime tape went up outside this home at 7712 Bass Ridge Trail in Killearn Lakes at about 11:30.

Neighbors tell us they saw 6 year old Mason Rhinehart loaded into the ambulance.

His distraught family was in the driveway. Distraught neighbors gathered across the street.

"I'm just praying for the family. I can't imagine how devastating this is for them and I hope they come to some resolve ...with the facts of what has happened to the poor beautiful child," neighbor Barbara Grauer said.

Crime scene investigators swarmed the home and a little more than an hour later, one took off.

An LCSO Spokesman says the suspect had been spotted at a park right around the corner off Valley Creek Drive.

The suspect? Rhinehart's grandmother 63 year old Martha White.

We got there just in time to get this exclusive footage of White in handcuffs being loaded onto an ambulance.

"I still can't believe it," neighbor Heather Falls said.

Heather Falls lives right across the street. She says Mason's brother stunned her when he told her the grandmother did it.

"'I know she killed him," he told Falls. "She pulled a wine bottle out' and then I couldn't understand anything else he said."

LCSO Spokesman James McQuaig says when Martha White is released from the hospital, she'll be charged with murder.

The family's pastor posted a letter on the church web site late this afternoon informing church members of the tragedy. Restoration Place Pastor Richard Ledford tells us the family is asking for prayers and time to grieve and appreciates the outpouring of love it is receiving from the community.


News Release: Leon County Sheriff's Office
August 5, 2014 - 5pm

At 11:31 am, the Leon County Sheriff’s Office responded to a 911 call for assistance at 7712 Bass Ridge Trail, in Killearn Lakes Plantation. Five minutes later, a deputy was on scene and confirmed that 7 year old Mason Rhinehart had been stabbed multiple times in the chest. First responders from the Tallahassee Fire Department responded along with Leon County Emergency Medical Services, who transported Rhinehart to Tallahassee Memorial Hospital. Rhinehart did not survive.

Deputies on scene learned that the suspect was Mason’s Grandmother, 63 year old Martha White. White and her 1997 Chevrolet Lumina were located by deputies near the end of Valley Creek Drive.

White was taken into custody and transported to an area hospital.

This investigation is ongoing and additional information will be made
available in the future.


By: Julie Montanaro
August 5, 2014 - 1:30pm

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Deputies now have a suspect in custody in a stabbing in Killearn Lakes.

They have confirmed a little boy was stabbed inside the home at 7712 Bass Ridge Trail.

There is a second crime scene roped off at a park at the end of Valley Creek Drive, right around the corner. A woman in handcuffs was witnessed being loaded into an ambulance at that scene.

We do not yet know the identity of the boy who was stabbed or have any updates on his condition. We also do not yet have the name of the suspect who was arrested.


By: WCTV Eyewitness News
August 5, 2014 - 12:30pm

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Deputies were called to the scene of a stabbing on Bass Ridge Trail in the Killearn Lakes Subdivision late this morning.

Neighbors told WCTV that a child was taken away in an ambulance. One neighbor said she heard a child screaming and a dog barking, but officials couldn't confirm any other information about what may have happened.

No further details are available at this time.

WCTV will remain on the scene as more details unfold.


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