TALLAHASSEE — Mason Rhinehart and his brother were playing video games in their suburban Tallahassee home Tuesday morning when their grandmother, Martha White, interrupted to say she had a surprise for them.
White, 63, who had been babysitting the boys in Killearn Lakes Plantation, Fla., then took 6-year-old Mason into the bathroom and locked the door behind her, a probable cause affidavit said. Mason's brother, age 8, heard him start to cry from behind the door and say, "I don't want to die, please don't kill me."
The boy said he tried to get in the bathroom, but could not. He then called his father and hid, court documents said.
Within five minutes, first responders were on the scene and found Mason lying on the bathroom floor with multiple stab wounds to the chest, said Lt. James McQuaig, Leon County Sheriff's Office spokesman. Leon County Emergency Medical Services rushed him to the hospital, but Mason did not survive.
White was not there when deputies arrived but the boys' parents said she was the one home with them while they were at work.
Mason's brother said he saw White leave the home with a bottle of wine but not before telling him she "had a surprise for him too," court documents said. McQuaig said Mason's brother was not injured in the incident.
Deputies identified White as a suspect when they found her covered in blood at the dead end of a block, about a half-mile away from the boys' parents' home. White's clothing was covered with blood, court documents said. She also had a bottle of wine and a Xanax.
White was taken to a local hospital for medical evaluation, even though she didn't appear to be injured, McQuaig said. She remained under evaluation until Wednesday morning, when she was transferred to the Leon County Jail and booked on a charge of first-degree murder. White showed little emotion as she was led in handcuffs into the female holding cell about 24 hours after deputies were initially called to the scene.
It is still too early in the investigation to identify a motive for the stabbing, McQuaig said. However, White told deputies she was "fed up."
"We are not clear on the motive at this point in time," McQuaig said. "That's one of the many things that the investigators are continuing to dig into."
An autopsy began Wednesday on Mason and search warrants for White, her car and her home were served Tuesday and Wednesday. McQuaig did not reveal the weapon used in the killing, or say who called 911.
Mason was heading into second grade at Killearn Lakes Elementary School. Principal Brenda Wagner sent an e-mail to parents and the school community Wednesday.
"This letter comes to you with great concern and emotion," Wagner said. "Our deepest sympathy goes out to the family and friends."
Efforts to reach the family Wednesday were unsuccessful.