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Mom pleads guilty to smothering kids found dead in stolen car

GOSHEN, Ind. --  An Indiana woman pleaded guilty Thursday to smothering her two children to death last fall after abducting them from their custodial grandparents' home.

Amber Pasztor, 30, pleaded guilty but mentally ill to two counts of murder after an Elkhart County judge ruled she was competent to stand trial.

The judge accepted her plea and set a June 29 hearing, where Pasztor will be sentenced to 130 years in prison - 65 years for each child's death.

The Fort Wayne, Indiana, woman abducted her children on Sept. 26 from their custodial grandparents' home, prompting authorities to issue an Amber Alert.

The bodies of her 7-year-old daughter, Lilliana Hernandez, and 6-year-old son, Rene Pasztor, were found later that day inside a stolen vehicle parked behind the Elkhart Police Department, about 70 miles northwest of Fort Wayne. Pasztor had flagged down an officer and showed him the bodies.

According to court documents, she told officers she drove the children around northern Indiana and southern Michigan, taking them to a park and a restaurant before smothering them with her hands.

Pasztor is also accused of killing her former neighbor, 66-year-old Frank Macomber, who owned the car she was driving, although no criminal charges have been filed in that case. Pasztor has admitted shooting Macomber in the head and leaving his body in a wooded area near her parents' home in Allen County, according to court documents.

In December, she sent a letter to the court saying she wanted to plead guilty to the double-murder. That letter reads in part, "I made a lot of bad decisions in my life but this one really did it. I am guilty and I accept my consequences."

Pasztor underwent three psychological evaluations to determine whether she was able to assist with her defense.

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Indiana Department of Child Services records released by a juvenile court say that Pasztor killed her children because she felt they were being threatened with violence by members of a Mexican cartel. Those records also say she suffered from untreated bipolar disorder.

Speaking to CBS affiliate WANE in a jailhouse interview last year, Pasztor admitted abducting the children, and said she decided she would kill them after learning an Amber Alert had been issued.

Pasztor said she wanted to keep the children safe.

"They were in good hands but I don't think they were safe," Pasztor said. "My kids are in a better place … they're in heaven now. They don't have no worries no more."  

The father of her two children, Rene Hernandez, 24, of Fort Wayne, was found dead in a wooded area in Whitley County in June 2010. His body had been frozen and cut into two pieces, police said.

That murder has never been solved.

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