MISSOULA, Mont. – A Montana woman, Leannah J. Gardipe, has been sentenced to life imprisonment for the brutal murder of her two young children. The sentencing took place on the second anniversary of the tragic deaths of her victims, aged 3 and 5. Gardner received two life sentences, to be served concurrently, for the double murder that occurred in the family home on November 19, 2021.
During the court proceedings, Gardipe attempted to justify her actions, claiming she slit the throats of her children to protect them from harm. However, the judge found her guilty of deliberate homicide and ordered her to serve her sentence under the supervision of the Montana Department of Public Health & Human Services.
Travis Sandberg, Gardipe’s ex-husband and the father of the children, read a victim impact statement prior to the sentencing. He urged the court to send Gardipe to prison rather than a mental health facility, citing concerns about her mental health. Gardipe had previously visited an emergency room during a mental health crisis, expressing thoughts of harming her children. Although she later retracted these claims, attributing them to her mental health struggles, it raised concerns about her ability to provide a safe environment for the children.
After the incident, Child Protective Services placed the children in Sandberg’s care while a custody battle ensued. Eventually, Gardipe was granted primary custody after demonstrating her commitment to weekly therapy sessions, regular doctor visits, and a three-week stay at a mental health treatment center.
The murders came to light when Gardipe’s mother received a phone call in which her daughter claimed to have “saved” the children. Gardipe also contacted 911, confessing to stabbing her children and requesting medical assistance. Upon arriving at the scene, law enforcement officers discovered the children in a bedroom with fatal injuries. A bloody knife was found under the bed, and a chilling note was discovered in the room.
Gardipe expressed remorse during the proceedings and stated that she misses her children every day. Nevertheless, the court found her guilty of the heinous crimes, resulting in her life sentence.