Yolonda Harrington-Sabir felt panic when she awoke and didn't see her twin baby boys in their matching wooden cribs in her bedroom.
She ran through her apartment screaming on the morning of Aug. 12, thinking someone had taken them.
She didn't see them in their car seats. Not in the bedrooms of her four older children.
She was relieved when her 8-year-old daughter called from her bedroom that the boys were in bed with her
But that relief turned to horror when Harrington-Sabir yanked the comforter off the girl and found both 3-month-old boys lifeless underneath.
"My daughter said she didn't want them to be cold,"
Harrington-Sabir explained in an interview Friday. "She wanted them to be with her. She must have gotten them out of their cribs between 5 and 7 in the morning."
The twins' deaths were accidental, the St. Louis County medical examiner's office said late this week. Officials had waited to sign off on that conclusion until toxicology test results arrived, showing nothing suspicious.
Both boys — Noah and Moses Abdus-Sabir — died of suffocation from the bedding,
said Suzanne McCune, forensic administrator for the medical examiner's office.
Police said from the start that they did not suspect foul play
and saw no sign of trauma.
On Friday, Sgt. James McWilliams, a spokesman for St. Louis County police, said his department's investigators have not completed their work and had no comment.
Harrington-Sabir sat on a porch at her mother's home in Bel-Nor on Friday and talked about the twins and how she is trying to help her other children cope.
"I can't even cry in front of them," the 29-year-old mother said.
The twins, born on Mother's Day, had joined Harrington-Sabir's family of the daughter and three sons, 2, 4 and 5.
"Everybody kept joking that now I had a basketball team and cheerleader," she said. She named the twins Noah and Moses for "No-Mo," as in "no more" kids.
Harrington-Sabir said she tries to reassure her daughter, who is in counseling, that she loves her and doesn't blame her.
"My daughter's very reluctant to pick up small children now," she said. "Her spirit's been broken. I can't tell her anything except, 'It's not your fault.' She just wanted to help."
Harrington-Sabir was going through a divorce when she found out she was pregnant. Her ex-husband moved out of state.
"Some might be worried about the older kids being jealous, but what you need to worry about is, will they love them too much?" Harrington-Sabir said. "I feel my twins were loved to death."
In the past, her daughter had taken the babies into her room when the twins were safely in their car seats. But she never before put them in bed with her, the mother said.
Based on what a medical examiner's investigator told her, Harrington-Sabir thinks they died sometime after 5 a.m. She believes her daughter had sneaked into her bedroom and taken them.
"She tried to put them on her and wrap them up with her," Harrington-Sabir said. "From what I was told, it was the positioning they were in (under the covers), and they kept breathing in the same air."
Neighbors said Harrington-Sabir was a conscientious mother. Friends often commented about how quiet and well-behaved her children are.
Detectives had the 8-year-old girl show them what happened, Harrington-Sabir said.
"I'm going to jail, Mama," she said the girl cried that day. "I didn't mean to wrap them."
No one was arrested, and none of the oldest children was ever removed from the home by police or children's service workers.
"My kids are now afraid of police because they kept putting me in and out of the police car" to talk, she said.
She said she still wakes up at night looking for them.
Harrington-Sabir, a Muslim, prepared her babies' bodies for burial and wrapped them in strips of white cotton. She said they were buried in individual white coffins at Lake Charles Park Cemetery. In her faith, she said, Allah wants her to show patience in knowing that one day she will see her children again.
"I'm not there yet," she said. "I want them here. I want to see their smiles and smell their curly hair."