‘I will do whatever it takes’: A mother’s year-long fight for survival and justice after brutal attack

After she was shot and her two children stabbed, Mariah Gardner shares her story with Texas Crime Stories in ‘Fractured Family’ episode

A horrific attack a year ago left a family shattered. Mariah Gardner along with her children were brutally attacked on April 10, 2023.

Her ex-husband is charged with the crime.

For the past year, Gardner has opened up like no one has before, about what she has been through.

She has taken control of her story and has openly shared it.

This episode looks back at the past year. In her own words, Gardner talks about the deadly attack, the loss of her daughter, surviving and healing.

April 10, 2023

Gardner along with her four children were living with her father on Robinhood Place near Alamo Heights. She was newly divorced from her husband Stephen Clare, with whom she had two young daughters, 2-year-old Rosalie and 11-month-old Willow.

On April 10, 2023, everything seemed normal when Clare stopped by unannounced, something Gardner said he did often as the two were trying to co-parent.

But, she says the visit took a turn.

“He told me he was going to kill me and every one of my children,” Gardner said.

Gardner said Clare shot her several times and then stabbed his two young daughters.

While Gardner and Rosalie survived, baby Willow did not.

A little over a week after the attack, Gardner spoke to KSAT 12 from her hospital bed about the attack, and how she tried to fight Clare to save her children.

“I counted every single time he pulled the trigger in my head,” Gardner said. “I was so tired I couldn’t fight anymore.”

Both Rosalie and Gardner spent weeks in the hospital recovering. Physically they were doing better but emotionally and mentally the struggle would continue.

Clare in Court

Over the past year, Clare has made several court appearances after being indicted. He is charged with capital murder, attempted capital murder and aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.

Earlier this year, the Bexar County District Attorney’s Office announced that they would be pursuing the death penalty in the case.

A tentative jury selection date has been set for this October.

The decision to pursue the death penalty was one Gardner fully approved.

“This is something that my children and I have been forced to live with every single day,” Gardner said. “I will live with this trauma every single day for the rest of my life, and I will do whatever it takes to make sure that he is held accountable.”

Stephen Clare indicted in horrific attack of ex-wife and two young daughters. (Copyright 2023 by KSAT - All rights reserved.)

Year Anniversary

Before the one-year anniversary, KSAT 12 spoke with Gardner about how she and her kids were doing.

“We are probably better than expected, but not as good as we’d like to be,” Gardner said in the video at the top of the article. “I know me, personally, I struggle very much with PTSD, which has actually gotten worse with time.”

“Rosalie, it’s still a process. She struggles emotionally. She gets scared. It’s going to be a long process for her.”

As for Willow’s memory, Gardner holds her daughter close to her heart and gathers strength from her surviving children to just take it one day at a time.

“I just want to be there with my kids and just hug them because we did survive,” Gardner said. “I think if we can find a way to honor Willow while we also celebrate our survival, I think that will be the key to getting through it. And just lots and lots of prayers.”

If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, there is a long list of resources on KSAT’s Domestic Violence page which includes a breakdown of what abuse is, and how it builds gradually.

If you are in crisis, you can:

About the Authors

Erica Hernandez is an Emmy award-winning journalist with 15 years of experience in the broadcast news business. Erica has covered a wide array of stories all over Central and South Texas. She's currently the court reporter and cohost of the podcast Texas Crime Stories.

Tim has been a photojournalist and video editor at KSAT since 1998. He came to San Antonio from Lubbock, where he worked in TV and earned his bachelor's degree in Electronic Media and Communication from Texas Tech University. Tim has won a handful of awards and has earned a master's in Strategic Communication and Innovation from Tech as well.

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