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MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — A Gerrardstown, W.Va.-area woman accused of fatally shooting her 8-year-old daughter and wounding her 11-year-old daughter on Thursday allegedly told police that she intended to kill them both, then take her own life.
Julie Ann Orellana, 46, of 291 Tall Pine Lane in the Glenwood Forest subdivision, was charged with single counts of first-degree murder and attempted murder, according to court records and police.
Orellana was being held without bond in Eastern Regional Jail Friday after being arraigned by Berkeley County Magistrate Harry L. Snow, according to court records.
Orellana was treated for apparent self-inflicted wounds at Berkeley Medical Center in Martinsburg prior to her arraignment, police said.
She was taken into custody about 8 a.m. on Friday in the area of Crow Foot Lane near Tall Pine Lane after police were alerted that nearby residents spotted her.
An extensive search for Orellana that involved law enforcement agencies from three states was unsuccessful Thursday night.
Orellana was found with a steak knife, a Taurus 9mm semi-automatic pistol and a blood-stained, six-page letter outlining her reasons for shooting the children, records said.
Once in custody, Orellana told a law enforcement officer that she intended to kill both of her daughters and take her own life, West Virginia State Police Sgt. W.R. Garrett wrote in a complaint filed against her.
Garrett wrote in the complaint that he responded to another Tall Pine Lane residence just after 4 p.m. for a report of a child who arrived there with a gunshot wound to her leg.
Olivia Orellana, 11, told police that her mother shot her in the leg and shot her 8-year-old sister, Eliza, in their residence.
Olivia was treated at Berkeley Medical Center in Martinsburg and released, spokeswoman Teresa McCabe said.
West Virginia State Police First Sgt. J.D. Burkhart found Eliza dead on the living room floor with multiple stab wounds and gunshot wounds on her chest, stomach, neck and back, records said.
The West Virginia State Medical Examiner’s Office will do an autopsy, police said.
Upon arriving home from school Thursday afternoon, Olivia told police that her mother asked the girls to come upstairs to find kittens stuck beneath a bed, records said.
Once in the bedroom, her mother began firing a gun, wounding her and her sister, the girl told police.
The victims’ mother left the scene in a white Honda sport utility vehicle that was later found abandoned on Cashew Lane, a short distance from the residence.
At the scene, police found multiple 9mm shell casings throughout the home, as well as multiple unfired rounds, records said.
Olivia told police that she escaped the bedroom and leaped out of an adjoining bedroom window to get help, records said.
Burkhart said Friday that the search for Orellana was especially challenging given the rugged terrain in a heavily wooded area.
The Glenwood Forest subdivision is off W.Va. 45, west of the intersection of W.Va. 51 and Buck Hill Road.
West Virginia State Police were assisted in the search by the sheriff’s offices from Morgan and Berkeley counties and Frederick County, Va. The Maryland State Police aviation unit also took part.
“It was a good effort by all,” Burkhart said.
Crisis teams were helping three southern Berkeley County schools, including those the children attended, according to the school district.
Berkeley County Schools Manny Arvon confirmed Friday that Orellana worked for the school district from August 2012 until January 2015, then was on unpaid medical leave until she resigned in February 2016.
“You search for the words that fit a tragedy like this. It’s so difficult,” Arvon said. “I only hope and pray for the survivor. … It’s heart-wrenching for everyone in this district and this community.”
“We’re sickened by this incident,” he said.