GREENVILLE, PITT COUNTY -

A mother, accused of mailing a knife to her children to convince them to kill their grandparents, made her first court appearance Tuesday morning.

Leticia M. Silva, 31, of Lakeland, FL, appeared before a Pitt County judge and asked to have her $5 million bond lowered.

"My family is here from Florida. I turned myself in. I need to see if I can get a bond reduction," Silva said.

Silva also asked for special visitation to her family. But the judge said he had no authority to grant those requests.

Silva turned herself in to Pitt County deputies Monday morning. According to investigators, Silva called her young daughters, ages 7 and 9, at around Christmas last year, and asked them to kill their paternal grandparents, who live on King's Road in Greenville.

Deputies said Silva first mailed a switchblade pocket knife to her children. Some time later, Silva allegedly called one of her daughters and asked her to use a knife from the kitchen to commit the murders. The grandparents told NewsChannel 12 they discovered that kitchen knife under the pillow of one of the girls, and promptly called authorities.

Silva was charged with four counts of first-degree solicitation to commit murder, and could get 40 years in prison per charge, the judge said.

Deputies said they began their investigation on Feb. 4, after the grandparents found out about the alleged murder plot. According to investigators, it was unlikely that the girls would have done what their mother asked them.

"It's hard to say what a child is going to do. The grandparents have told me that they spoke to the children and the children neither one of them would carry it out," said Detective Charles Mitchell. "They said that they loved their grandparents very much."

A neighbor, who did not want to be identified, agreed.

"They are the sweetest little girls and I don't think they'd hurt anybody," the neighbor said. "The grandparents are doing a wonderful job raising them."

The children have been living with the grandparents, who have permanent custody, for seven years. According to family, the girls only talk to their mother once or twice a month.

The children's father also lives in Pitt County, but his details have not been released.

NewsChannel 12 talked with Silva's side of the family, who said the whole incident is a big misunderstanding. They said the paternal grandparents are making the story up.

Silva is scheduled to make her next court appearance on March 21.

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NewsChannel 12's Jamie Hicks contributed to this report.