RALEIGH -- Raleigh Police said a mother killed her 2-year-old son Wednesday and then tried to kill herself.
The incident happened at the Super 8 Motel on New Bern Avenue in Raleigh.
Police identified the mother as 29-year-old Michelle Harpster. People at the motel said she had been staying there for about three months with her son.
“It's been very emotional for us,” said a Super 8 employee who asked not to be identified. "They stayed here like three months so everybody got kind of attached seeing [the little boy] everyday, seeing him play. So it's been real hard for us here at Super 8.”
The employee said she had befriended Harpster and was even planning to babysit her son.
“She was tired of living like this and she was going to do something about it,” the employee said. “The situation really wasn't that bad in our mind. But maybe in her mind, it was something she couldn't handle anymore.”
Harpster's friends said she was going through a second custody battle for her son. She had also run out of money and was on a wait list to get into a shelter.
“She was going through tough times right now. She said she needed help with her son and she said she really couldn't get help and help from her family and she was tired of struggling,” said Mariah Hill, an acquaintance of Harpster.
Harpster was scheduled to check out of the motel Wednesday morning. Employees said when they knocked on the door, she asked for an extra hour. When they came back, there was no answer and the door was barricaded shut.
Police say she killed her 2-year-old son, and then tried to kill herself.
“I'm a little upset,” Hill said. “She said family members wouldn't help her so she felt that was her only way or the best solution for her. How could you take your child's life like that. There's always some options. And then you've got to deal with that. You're going to have live with that the rest of your life.”
“First it was a shock and I'm still kind of in shock because I just can't believe that a lady that sang everyday, sang to her child, played with her child, could do something like this. It's very shocking," said the unidentified Super 8 employee.
When asked if she could imagine what could drive a person to hurt their child, the woman said she could not even begin to imagine since she has five children herself and just spanking them hurts her feelings.
“I pray for her. I don't pray for [her son] because I know where he's at. He's where he needs to be right now. I'm praying for her. Maybe she'll pull out of this, pull through this and I don't know, be a better person. I don't know,” said the Super 8 employee.
Police said Harpster is in the hospital being treated for her self-inflicted injuries. When released, she will be charged with murder.