A woman charged with slashing her 6-year-old son's throat Saturday is being held on $500,000 bond.

Martina Harding, 42, the Deptford Township woman charged with fatally slitting her 6-year-old son's throat before turning the knife on herself, remained hospitalized at Cooper University Hospital in Camden yesterday after undergoing surgery on Saturday for a self-inflicted throat wound, said Bernie Weisenfeld, spokesman for the Gloucester County Prosecutor's Office.

At the hospital, police charged Harding with first-degree murder, aggravated assault, possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose, and endangering the welfare.

Police were called Saturday to the Harding house in the 700 block of Dartmouth Drive, where they recovered the 13-inch knife they believe the woman used to kill her son, Jared. The motive for the killing was not immediately clear, although neighbors suggested to reporters that Harding was facing the loss of her job and that her husband, Christian, was unemployed, causing family stress.

Christian Harding, Jared's father, was home at the time of the stabbing and was cooperating in the investigation, police said.

Police said they had not previously been called to the address for any violence.

Neighbors said that they thought Christian Harding was unemployed, and that Martina Harding may have recently been told she would be laid off from her job at a department store.

"Knowing her like I did, I never would have guessed this," said Rob Costello, 38, a neighbor. He described the family as "nice people" who mostly kept to themselves. "It's a tragedy."

Costello said he had watched as paramedics, performing CPR, brought Jared Harding out on a stretcher. He said one police officer, visibly shaken, had been down on one knee as the ambulance left.

The Hardings' 9-year-old daughter called 911 just after 7:30 a.m., according to police at the scene.

The boy was taken to Underwood-Memorial Hospital in Woodbury, where he died. An autopsy yesterday afternoon confirmed that the cause of death was the throat wound.

The daughter has been placed in the care of the state Division of Youth and Family Services.

Jared Harding was a first grader at the Pine Acres Early Childhood Center in Deptford. He was described as an average, "high energy" 6-year-old who was often seen playing in the front yard.

A message on the school's Web site said the district was "deeply saddened over the tragic loss of one of our children" and directed parents to information on counseling services.

Weisenfeld said that when Harding is deemed medically well enough to be released from the hospital, she likely would be transferred to the women's unit of the county jail in Clarksboro.

Contact the Inquirer Online Desk at 215-854-2443 or inqonline@phillynews.com.
Inquirer staff writer Gene D'Alessandro contributed to this article.