A Maricopa mother is accused of strangling her three children and hitting them with a hammer, according to police.

The mother, whose name was not released by police to protect the identity of her children, is charged with three counts of child abuse and three counts of aggravated assault, police said. She was arrested Dec. 7 at her home on West Canyon Creek Drive.

According to a probable cause statement, Phoenix police contacted their counterparts in Maricopa on Nov. 23 to report allegations by the children of physical abuse that included being “choked” by their mother.

The three children were taken to Phoenix Childhelp to be interviewed by a forensic specialist, police said. During the interviews, all three children provided detailed accounts of the mother allegedly “grabbing them by the neck with both hands and squeezing to the point they could not breathe,” the probable cause statement said.

All three children provided separate accounts of three alleged incidents: the oldest child being strangled in the garage, another child being physically attacked and strangled with both hands in the upstairs area of the home and the youngest child being strangled in the mother’s bedroom to the point where a sibling had to pull her off, according to police.

All three children alleged their mother had “choked” them on several other occasions as well, police said. They alleged she has a drinking problem and that most of the alleged abuse in the home occurred when she was drinking.

During their interviews, the children reported they were allegedly hit with several objects in the home, including a hammer, power cords, curtain rods and belts, police said. They also accused their mother of failing to provide them food and said they were forced to steal money, or food from neighbors, in order to survive.

A search of Maricopa police records by officers revealed a May 2020 case in which the children were found at a neighbor’s home attempting to steal food, the probable cause statement said.

In an interview with officers at the home, the mother initially stated she had never hit the children and would just yell at them, police said. Then she admitted to spanking the youngest two children and having them get a belt so she could spank them. She told police she had never strangled her children and stated they were lying.

Based on the detailed accounts of several alleged incidents in the home by the children during separate forensic interviews, and comments made by the mother to officers, she was arrested and charged on Dec. 7.

She was taken to Pinal County Jail.

If convicted of category 1 child abuse, a Class 2 felony and punishable under the Dangerous Crime Against Children statute, the mother could face a minimum of 10 years in prison, according to state statute.