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Video Offers Glimpse Into Jacks's Mental State

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This is an excerpt from the interview Metropolitan Police Department detectives conducted with Banita Jacks on Jan. 9, 2008, after federal marshals descended on her Southeast Washington row house and discovered the decomposing bodies of her four daughters. A D.C. Superior Court judge on Wednesday found Banita Jacks guilty of killing the girls. Video by U.S. Attorney's Office for the District

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By Keith L. Alexander
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, July 31, 2009; 8:58 PM

After a D.C. Superior Court judge on Wednesday found Banita Jacks guilty of killing her four daughters, the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District made public copies of a video of her eight-hour interrogation with D.C. police detectives.

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The interrogation was done just hours after Jacks was arrested Jan. 9, 2008, after federal marshals descended on her Southeast Washington rowhouse and discovered the decomposing bodies of her four daughters, ages 5, 6, 11 and 16.

In the video, a gaunt Jacks talks about how she had not eaten in three months. She referred to herself as Mary Magdalene and her late boyfriend, Nathaniel Fogle Jr., who died of cancer a year earlier, as Jesus Christ.

Jacks, 35, said her daughters died in their sleep one at a time over several days, with the youngest, Aja, dying first. She said that she tried waking them and performing CPR but that they would not wake up. "I kept calling their names and shaking them, but there was nothing I could do," she said. Jacks said her daughters did not suffer: "Nobody was aware of anything. They were so weak."

Autopsies later suggested the three youngest girls may have been strangled, while the oldest girl was stabbed three times in the stomach. But because the bodies were so badly decomposed, it was difficult for medical examiners to be exact. Prosecutors estimated the girls had been dead for about seven to eight months.

In announcing his verdict, Judge Frederick H. Weisberg said he weighed several of Jacks's comments from the video in finding her guilty.

Jacks faces life in prison and is scheduled to be sentenced in October.


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