A Montgomery County couple and their two young children were stabbed and slashed inside their home in a quiet up-county neighborhood early yesterday in a bizarre and grisly incident that police characterized as three attempted murders and an attempted suicide.

County police said 33-year-old Luis Grau and the couple's 8-year-old son and 6-year-old daughter were found before dawn outside their four-bedroom home in Damascus, bleeding and nearly unconscious from their wounds.

The mother, Maria Victoria Roteo, was found in a second-floor bedroom with her throat cut and her wrists slashed, according to police.

Police said they obtained three warrants charging the woman with assault with intent to murder and said the warrants would be served when she left Montgomery General Hospital, where she is under treatment for her wounds.

Her husband, Grau, and the son, Federico, were also at Montgomery General, where they were listed in stable condition. The daughter, Almudena, was flown from Montgomery General to Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, where she was listed in very critical condition last night after five hours of surgery.

Inside the house at 10408 Sweepstakes Dr., police said they found the upstairs hall and three bedrooms smeared and spattered with blood. They said they also found two kitchen knives that were stained with blood.

In addition, officers who were called to the house before dawn by the wounded husband said they found packed suitcases, apparently prepared for the family's planned departure yesterday on a visit to relatives in Spain.

Police said they believed the stabbings followed an argument between Grau and his wife, who retained her maiden name. They said they knew little about the couple and did not know the nature of the dispute.

Neither police nor neighbors could provide many details about the background or occupations of the couple. Police said Grau had an identification card from Digital Communications Corp., an upper-Montgomery County electronics firm, and one neighbor said it was believed that he was involved with computers.

Officials of the firm could not be reached for comment, however, and residents of the neighborhood, a development of $100,000 homes called Heritage Estates, said they knew little about Grau or Roteo.

Police said that after an argument in either the kitchen or an upstairs bathroom, Grau was stabbed several times in the back. While he was telephoning police, Federico, the son, who had been awakened during the argument but remained in bed, was stabbed in the throat, police said.

The daughter, Almudena, who remained asleep in her bedroom was also stabbed in the throat, police said.

Police said they received a call about 4:30 a.m. from Grau, who reported a stabbing and indicated the possibility of a burglary.

After calling, Grau gathered the children and left the house, possibly to seek the aid of police officers who live in the neighborhood. Grau apparently carried his 6-year-old daughter while his son walked with them, police said.

A neighbor said she was awakened by a man's cries in the darkness. "He just stood there screaming, wailing and moaning," said the neighbor, who asked not to be identified. She said the man cried: "Somebody help my family."

Officers arrived soon after and, suspecting a burglary, sent a police dog into the house. Police said the dog discovered Roteo lying semiconscious in an upstairs bedroom, bleeding from slashes on her wrists and throat.

Neighbors said both Grau and Roteo appeared to be more at home in Spanish than English, and that language difficulties may have kept them from becoming better acquainted in the community.

Almudena is a first-grade pupil at Cedar Grove Elementary School in Germantown, and Federico is a third-grader at the same school, neighbors said. Both children are fluent in English, they said.

Both Almudena and Federico played with other children in the area, but the parents did not mingle easily, neighbors said.

Roteo often played with the two children in the back yard of the red-brick, black-shuttered colonial house, neighbors said, and she appeared to at least one nearby resident to be a "very sweet person."

"She never talked," said another neighbor. "All she would say was 'hello.' "