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Mother charged with murder in death of her two young children
Children's school community 'deeply saddened'
Berenice Jaramillo-Hernandez

A Gainesville mother has been charged with murder after law enforcement found her two children dead Friday afternoon at the family's home in northeast Hall County.

The Hall County Sheriff’s Office responded around 2 p.m. Friday to a report that a woman had cut herself at the home on Crescent Drive. They found Berenice Jaramillo-Hernandez, 26, with serious injuries to her neck and her two children, siblings Mateo Miranda Jaramillo, 5, and Katherine Miranda Jaramillo, 6, dead. 

The children’s next-of-kin were notified of the deaths Saturday afternoon, the sheriff's office said.

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According to investigators, Jaramillo-Hernandez killed her son and daughter with a knife between noon and 2 p.m. Friday and then turned the knife on herself, the sheriff's office said. 

She was transported by Hall County Fire Services for medical treatment. After receiving treatment, she was charged with two counts each of felony murder, malice murder and aggravated assault. Jaramillo-Hernandez was booked Sunday, Dec. 13, into the Hall County Jail, according to the sheriff’s office’s database.

White Sulphur Elementary School, where the children attended, sent a message on Friday to families.

“We are deeply saddened to report that two of our precious students passed away unexpectedly this afternoon,” according to the school’s message. “As a school and community, we are heartbroken, and our thoughts and prayers go out to the family.”

Hall County Schools spokesman Stan Lewis said they had extra staff trained in grief counseling on hand Monday to assist students and staff.

“As you can imagine, this has hit White Sulphur and the community very hard,” Lewis said.

Hispanic Alliance-GA Executive Director Vanesa Sarazua said the organization had helped the family on and off with food donations for the past year.

“We always tried to connect her to local resources and give her the basic needs that she might have for her children,” Sarazua said.

Sarazua said the community knew the kids and family through school and called the situation “very tragic.”

Magistrate Court officials said Monday that Jaramillo-Hernandez had qualified for a public defender.

Chief Assistant Public Defender Larry Duttweiler said at least three attorneys will be involved.

“To say that this was a terrible tragedy would be an understatement,” Duttweiler wrote in an email. “It is much too early to comment on a very complex set of circumstances.”

The Times made multiple attempts Monday and Tuesday to reach members of the White Sulphur Elementary School community and Jaramillo-Hernandez’s family for comment, but those requests were declined.

This case is still under investigation.

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Investigators from the Hall County Sheriff's Office work the scene at a house on Crescent Drive Friday, Dec. 11, 2020, where two children were found dead. - photo by Scott Rogers