A mentally disturbed woman in Arizona is facing murder charges after police say she broke into an elderly neighbor's apartment Sunday evening and fatally stabbed an 83-year-old woman -- less than an hour after she had been released from a psychiatric care facility.
Scottsdale police say they had taken the women to a hospital for observation the previous week.
The motive described by the murder suspect to investigators, according to a probable cause statement: "God told her to do it."
Jill Manahan, 40, faces second-degree murder and burglary charges in connection with the stabbing death of Grace Cook, an elderly woman who lived below Manahan in a Scottsdale apartment complex, Dave Pubins, spokesman for the Scottsdale Police Department, told ABCNews.com. Manahan is currently being held at a Maricopa County jail on $100,000 bond, according to jail records. It was unclear whether she had hired an attorney.
Scottsdale police responded to a 911 call from the apartment complex Sunday shortly after 5:15 p.m. There, they found a broken tree branch that had fallen over a fence into Cook's apartment patio. They also found damage to Cook's screen door, Pubins said.
"They make entry and find the victim deceased by an apparent stab wound," Pubins said, "and they do recover a weapon, which was a knife." Pubins said that Cook had been stabbed in the back.
Witnesses told investigators they saw Manahan climbing into the Cook's apartment through a window. Authorities recovered paperwork from a mental health facility on the grounds of the complex -- including a contract with the transportation company that drove her to her apartment -- that indicated that Manahan had been released from care earlier that afternoon. "She's there less than a half-hour before the homicide takes place," Pubins said.
Authorities went to Manahan's door and, when they got no response to a knock, forced entry. Inside, they discovered Manahan covered in blood, Pubins said. She was taken into custody, interviewed and charged early Monday morning with Cook's murder.
The Scottsdale Police Department was already familiar with Manahan. Last Thursday, officers, including a crisis intervention specialist, responded to calls from neighbors in the same apartment complex who reported that Manahan was "behaving strangely and speaking incoherently," Pudins said. Authorities made the decision to transport Manahan to the Scottsdale Healthcare-Shea Thursday, and on Friday, she was moved to the Urgent Psychiatric Care Center in Phoenix, according to Pudins.
Greg Taylor, spokesman for Magellen Heath Services, the publicly traded health care company that oversees the Urgent Psychiatric Care Center for Maricopa County, declined to comment on Manahan's case, citing federal privacy laws. "We can't disclose any information or confirm that a patient is under our care," Taylor said in an interview with ABCNews.com.
Taylor did describe the psychiatric health care facility where police say Manahan was housed until shortly before the murder. Patients can arrive at the Urgent Psychiatric Care Center voluntarily or involuntarily, Cook said. They can arrive through referrals from hospitals, law enforcement or family members.
Once at the facility, patients are held and observed for a minimum of 12 hours and a maximum of 23 hours, according to Taylor. Individuals are evaluated, may be medicated, and a decision is ultimately made about what each patient's next step should be. The options may include in-patient treatment, Taylor said, or release.
Taylor also confirmed that patients are provided transportation when necessary, adding that if the facility's staff decides that someone needs in-patient treatment, the person will be transported directly to the referral hospital. "They wouldn't be released and then expected to show up at the other facility," Taylor said. "They would be brought to the other facility."
It is unclear exactly what decision was made regarding Manahan's mental health needs before release Sunday and the subsequent murder.
One neighbor described hearing screams coming from Cook's apartment and another, who identified herself to ABC News' Phoenix affiliate KNXV-TV as Manahan's hairstylist, said the woman had recently talked about hearing directly from God.
"She just had her 83rd birthday," Pam McCarthy, another resident of the complex, told KNXV. "To live a great life to that age and die like that, I can't get a grip on that."