The St. Petersburg Times

Mother arrested in stabbing of her children

The girl, 3, and her 5-year-old brother are in fair condition at Tampa General Hospital after surgery.

By BRADY DENNIS, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times, published December 19, 2002

VALRICO -- A 35-year-old woman was arrested Wednesday night after she repeatedly stabbed her 3-year-old daughter and 5-year-old son, Hillsborough sheriff's deputies said.

Deputies said Heidi Marie Hughes-Cihaner confessed to stabbing the children, Sarah and Seyhmus, with a 4-inch knife Wednesday afternoon.

The children were flown to Tampa General Hospital, where they underwent surgery. They were in fair condition late Wednesday. Their injuries are not considered life-threatening.

Hughes-Cihaner has been embroiled in a divorce battle with her husband, Metin Cihaner, for a year and a half, said Cihaner's attorney, Paul Bowen.

On Dec. 5, Hillsborough Judge Katherine Essrig gave custody of the children to Hughes-Cihaner, despite pleas from their father, Bowen said.

"We were concerned because she was acting strange. She was irrational. She was depressed," Bowen said. "We brought that before the court. (But) neither my client nor me ever expected she would injure the children."

Bowen said the couple had continued living together even as they fought in court. But on Tuesday night, he said, Hughes-Cihaner took the children and went to a mobile home at 2609 Gorman Drive in Valrico.

"We were (already) concerned," he said. "Then this happened."

A shelter hearing for the children is scheduled for today. Bowen said Metin Cihaner will ask for custody of his two children. But the father was most concerned Wednesday night about their injuries, he said.

"He wants to make sure that they are safe, physically and mentally," said Bowen, who described the father as upset and emotional.

Records show that while neither Hughes-Cihaner nor Cihaner has a previous Florida criminal record, she was granted an injunction against him in May.

Records show that Cihaner was arrested in December 1995 on federal racketeering charges. The outcome of that case was not available late Wednesday.

Deputies said Hughes-Cihaner faces two counts of aggravated child abuse, two counts of attempted murder and a charge of solicitation and conspiracy.

She remained in Hillsborough County Jail late Wednesday. No bail had been set.

© Copyright 2001 St. Petersburg Times.