Delaware Woman Worried About Deportation Allegedly Drowns Infant Son and His 5-Year-Old Brother: Police
A Delaware woman worried about being deported — even though she was in the country legally — was charged with murder earlier this week after allegedly drowning her 5-month-old son and his 5-year-old half-brother, police say.
Kula Pelima, 30, of Wilmington, was taken into custody and charged Monday night with two counts of first-degree murder, Wilmington Police Chief Robert Tracy said at a news conference on Tuesday.
The baby, Solomon Epelle, is her biological son, police said.
The older boy, Alex Epelle, 5, is her boyfriend’s son with another woman.
Pelima is being held at the Baylor Women’s Correctional Institution on a $2 million cash bond, Tracy said. It is unclear Wednesday whether she has retained an attorney. She has not yet entered a plea.
Pelima called 911 at 3:45 a.m. Monday saying she was worried about being deported because her boyfriend — the boys’ father — had been detained by agents with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Tracy said on Tuesday.
Pelima immigrated to the United States from Liberia at age 10 and is in the country legally, Tracy said.
Nonetheless, “She was concerned about her immigration status,” he told reporters.
• Want to keep up with the latest crime coverage? Click here to get breaking crime news, ongoing trial coverage and details of intriguing unsolved cases in the True Crime Newsletter.
Federal officials had picked up Pelima’s boyfriend, Victor Epelle, who is from Nigeria, on Oct. 6, Tracy said. He did not have more information about why Epelle was detained.
According to the police chief, the officer who responded to Pelima’s first 911 call on Monday told her that they were not going to arrest her.
Tracy said the officer gave her the number for a help-line to call for further information. The officer saw the 5-year-old boy and did not notice anything that was amiss, he said.
Hours later, about 8:30 a.m., Pelima called 911 again. This time, she allegedly confessed she had drowned her son and the older boy, according to Tracy.
Pelima allegedly sounded “controlled” when she called authorities to say the boys were dead, Tracy said. She did not sound like “someone that just murdered two children.”
When police arrived, she showed them to a tub where officers found the boys’ bodies.
• PEOPLE’s special edition True Crime Stories: 35 Real Cases That Inspired the Show Law & Order is on sale now.
The stove’s gas was also on in the home, Tracy said.
Calls Wednesday to prosecutors and Wilmington police were not immediately returned.
Describing the deaths as tragic, Tracy said Tuesday, “We all have the questions: Why would someone go through and do what they’ve done?
“We don’t have the answers either.”