Ed. Note: After years of pre-trial litigation, opening statements began today in the trial of the nanny accused of fatally stabbing two New York City children in her care in the bathtub of the kids’ apartment in 2012.
Prosecutors allege Yoselyn Ortega, 55, stabbed herself in the neck after killing Lulu and Leo Krim, 6 and 2. She faces a possible sentence of life in prison and is currently being held with no bail.
Below is PEOPLE’s original story on the Oct. 25, 2012, slayings.
Marina and Kevin Krim, the parents of the children, have since created the Lulu & Leo Fund, a non-profit organization that aims to inspire, heal and grow children through engagement with art, nature and creativity.
In Marina Krim‘s blog “Life with the Little Krim Kids,” Lulu, 6, Nessie, 3, and Leo, 2, are the stars. But amid the witty entries that detail ice-skating outings, trips to blackberry patches and gingerbread-decorating contests in the family’s Manhattan apartment, what shines through most is the sheer delight Marina, 36, takes in being a mom. Last Christmas, for instance, a pumpkin patch photo of the kids wasn’t enough of a holiday card for Marina to send to friends and family, so she hand-decorated each card—front and back. “What mom with three kids does that?” marvels a friend. “Some people are born to be a mother. That’s her.”
But even supermoms can use help. So, after Leo’s birth (I have about 6 piles of folded laundry…Yikes!!!! But I think I kind of love the chaos J), Marina hired a nanny. As Yoselyn Ortega, 50, squired the girls to ballet and art classes, she blended into the happy Krim household, trotting out photos of the kids to show friends as if they were her own. “She always talked about loving the kids,” says Ortega’s neighbor Sheila Luciano, 21. “She really loved her job.”
Which makes what happened at dusk on Oct. 25 all the more inexplicable—and chilling. Returning with Nessie from a swim class to the upscale Upper West Side apartment that Marina and Kevin Krim moved into three years ago after relocating from San Francisco, Marina flicked on the lights in the bathroom to find Lulu and Leo lying clothed and dead in a blood-soaked bathtub, each of them stabbed multiple times. According to police, Ortega, on the floor beside the tub, then grabbed the knife she allegedly used to massacre the children and stabbed herself in the neck. Now conscious and expected to survive but intubated and still unable to speak as she lies under police guard at New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center, Ortega will not be charged until police can question her. Meanwhile, her friends are struggling to explain the unthinkable act, and friends and relatives of Marina and Kevin, 37, are groping for words to express their horror and grief. “The sadness that all of us feel is without measure,” Mark Hoffman, CEO and President of CNBC, wrote to colleagues at the financial network, where Kevin is a vice president who oversees digital content. “There are simply no words to convey the magnitude of this tragedy.”
The horrific incident has saddened and shaken parents across the country, and left them worrying how they can ensure their children’s safety when they turn care of their kids over to others (see box). Investigators have uncovered no evidence that Ortega, a naturalized U.S. citizen from the Dominican Republic, who had cleaned houses prior to landing this job through her sister Celia, a nanny, has ever run into trouble with the Krims, the law or her own mental health. If anything, she enjoyed work conditions many nannies dream of. Once when the Krims went on a family vacation, for instance, they paid to take Ortega with them to her native Santiago. Last February they met her relatives, whom Marina described in her blog as “amazing familia.” Kevin’s mother, Karen Krim, told the New York Daily News that Kevin and Marina treated Ortega “like family.”
In recent months, however, Ortega’s neighbors in Hamilton Heights, an ethnically and economically mixed neighborhood farther north on the Upper West Side, where Ortega lived in a crowded tenement with her 17-year-old son, had noticed a distinct change in the nanny’s demeanor. They say that Ortega seemed nervous, agitated and unhappy and had gotten too thin. “In the building, everyone was talking about how she didn’t look good,” says neighbor Ruben Rivas, 49. The day before the slayings, says Fausto Corniel, 78, who’s known Ortega since she was 5, “she asked my wife to take her to the psychologist, and my wife took her.” Recently Ortega had moved back to Hamilton Heights after losing a rental apartment in the Bronx and was selling jewelry and makeup to earn extra cash. Some friends spoke vaguely of “financial troubles.” Neighbor Maria Lajara counters, “She never said there was money trouble.”
At the Krims‘ 10-story doorman building, fellow residents are still reeling. “Everyone’s just torn up,” says Dianne Ferguson, a nanny in the building. On the evening of the murders, resident Rima Starr, 63, descended into the lobby to see Marina with Nessie cradled against her body, her body swaying, her arms alternately squeezing the 3-year-old and flailing as she emitted what Starr describes as “a blood-curdling, amazing horrible scream.” Starr adds that Marina seemed “out of her mind” as she flipped between saying things like, “I’ll never speak to her again,” meaning the nanny, and consoling Nessie, “You’ll be all right. It’ll be all right.” Resident Herbert Klein told reporters he heard shell-shocked Marina, who’d given up a marketing director position to be a stay-at-home mom, say, “What am I going to do with the rest of my life? I have no children, I have no children.”
Since that tragic scene, neighborhood residents have built a flowery shrine to the slain children outside the building. But Marina and Kevin have retreated with Nessie and, presumably, Babar, their rescue greyhound, to an undisclosed hotel. Siblings and both sets of parents, who live in Southern California, have converged in New York City to give them support and love. No funeral arrangements have been made public, and according to Kevin’s father, William Krim, the shaken couple have not returned to their apartment. “I don’t know if they ever will,” he told The New York Times. “I don’t know if I could.” For now, says a family friend, “Marina and her family have received an amazing outpouring of support from friends and family, and that is the one thing helping them through this.”