Connie Villa Smothered Daughter, 13, With Bare Hands, Admits She Tried to Kill Other Kids

Connie Villa killed her 13-year-old daughter with her bare hands after the girl refused to take pills like her siblings in a plan to deprive her ex-husband of the children, police say.

Citing "significant progress" in the investigation of the Christmas Day mother-on-daughter smothering of Aniarael Macias, Casa Grande police released a statement today that outlines details of the crime and the motive based on Villa's statements.

The 35-year-old woman did not want her ex-husband, Adam Villa, 33, to obtain custody of the children, police say.

She settled on violence as the best solution. Police say Villa admitted that on Christmas Day, she forced her three surviving children, ages 3, 5, and 8, to take some kind of opiate-based drug. Cops are aren't saying which drug yet.

"Connie Villa also admitted to investigators that she was unsuccessful in forcing Aniarael to ingest the drugs. She admitted to then forcefully suffocating Aniarael with her bare hands," Casa Grande police write in a statement released to the media this morning.

The medical examiner has been asked to look for signs of suffocation.

No mention was made about a confession to stabbing her ex-husband.

After poisoning the younger kids and suffocating Aniarael, police believe, Villa called her ex and lured to him to her apartment at 351 North Peart Road. She stabbed him several times in the upper body, but he was able to escape to his car, call 911, and drive to the Casa Grande Regional Medical Center.

When police officers entered the apartment, they found Connie Villa holding a knife to her own chest, stab wounds covering her upper body and her three youngest children at her side. Anirael was discovered dead in the bathroom.

Connie Villa made her initial appearance in Pinal County Superior court on Sunday night and was held without bond.

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Ray Stern has worked as a newspaper reporter in Arizona for more than two decades. He's won numerous awards for his reporting, including the Arizona Press Club's Don Bolles Award for Investigative Journalism.