A woman seen dropping her three young sons into San Francisco Bay from a downtown pier was charged with murder while anguished relatives kept vigil and rescuers combed the chilly water for the bodies of two of the victims. Lashuan T. Harris, 23, was being held in a hospital jail ward Thursday after police saw her pushing an empty baby stroller away from the pier where a witness reported spotting a woman drop the children into the water Wednesday night.
The body of Harris' middle child, Taronta Greeley, 2, was recovered late Wednesday about two miles (3 kilometers) from the 10-foot ( 3-meter) pier not far from Fishermen's Wharf, a major tourist spot.
The other children, Treyshun Harris, 6, and Joshoa Greeley, 16 months, were missing and presumed dead Thursday after more than 24 hours in water with a swift current.
The sheriff's department would not say why Harris was in the hospital, but she suffered from schizophrenia and had threatened to hurt her children, according to Britney Fitzpatrick, her 16-year-old half-sister.
"She told my mama she was going to feed them to the sharks," Fitzpatrick said. "No one thought it was that serious."
The Coast Guard called off its search, but the San Francisco police and fire departments continued to scour the bay for the two bodies. "We are going to be out here until we find them," said police spokeswoman Maria Oropeza.
The district attorney's office charged Harris with three counts of murder and three counts of assault on a child with great bodily injury. Because multiple murder charges are involved, she could face the death penalty, according to the AP.
Harris was scheduled to be arraigned on Friday, officials said.
About a dozen family members spent Thursday afternoon meeting with police investigators and praying near the pier. They described Harris as a devoted mother who used to work as a nurse's assistant at a retirement home in Oakland, but over the last year and a half fought an increasingly unsuccessful battle with mental illness.
"It's confusing. I just want to know why she did it," said Demarcus Harris, a cousin.
Lashuan Harris, the third oldest of seven siblings, had been living with her children in a Salvation Army shelter in Oakland since early September, said her oldest sister, Telicia Harris, 26.
Before that, she lived with her mother in Oakland, with another sister in Jacksonville, Florida, and with the father of her children. She had been taking medication for her schizophrenia, but Telicia Harris said she did not know how consistently.