Texas girls may have been sleeping when hanged by mother

Three young girls killed by their mother did not have any defensive wounds, indicating they may have been sleeping when she hanged them in the closet of their home, the Tarrant County medical examiner said.

Dr. Nizam Peerwani said Gilberta Estrada, who also hanged herself and strung up an 8-month-old daughter who survived, tied pieces of clothing around their necks and then around a wooden board about an hour before they were found Tuesday morning.

Estrada could have killed herself and daughters up to six hours before her sister discovered them in their mobile home, Peerwani said Thursday. But the murders and suicide probably happened shortly before they were found because the infant, Evelyn Frayre, survived, he said.

They were hanged within minutes of one another, he said.

Peerwani said no prescription drugs or over-the-counter sleeping medicines were found in the trailer but that results of toxicology tests are pending on Estrada, 25, and Maria Teresa Estrada, 5; Yaneth Frayre, 3; and Magaly Frayre, 21 months.

Evelyn was doing well in a foster home a day after being released from the hospital, Child Protective Services spokeswoman Marissa Gonzales said. Officials were doing background checks on relatives seeking to care for her and planned to recommend at a hearing in two weeks where she will live.