October 25, 2012
Upper West Side, New York, New York
Siblings Leo and Lucia “Lulu” Krim (ages 2 and 6 respectively) are stabbed to death by their nanny
WARNING: this article contains some details which may be considered graphic. Discretion is advised.
Leo and Lulu’s mother, Marina Krim, took her 3-year-old to a swimming lesson and, at its conclusion, traveled to pick up Lulu from her dancing class. She then learned Lulu had not been dropped off by her caretaker, Yoselyn Ortega, who had been employed by the family for two years.
As Marina entered her home, she found the lights were turned off. She then began to search the home for her children. “I go down,” Marina testified later, “I walk down the hall and I see the light on under the back of the [bathroom] door, and I’m like, ‘Oh God it’s so quiet in here, oh God. Why is it so … quiet?” Marina opened the door to see the bodies of Leo and Lulu in the bathtub, a bloody knife in the sink, and Ortega standing in the bathroom. According to Assistant District Attorney Courtney Groves, Ortega waited until Marina saw her children before she began to stab herself in the neck.
Emergency responders were notified and found Ortega on the bathroom floor next to the knife she had used to slash herself. Leo and Lulu had sustained multiple stab wounds and both had their throats cut deeply enough the responders initially believed the children had been decapitated. It was revealed during autopsy Leo, who had been unable to defend himself, received 5 stab wounds while Lulu had fought back and had defensive wounds as well as stabbing injuries, with a combined 30 knife wounds.
Ortega survived her injuries and was charged with murder. She did not deny killing the children and pleaded not guilty by reason of mental disease or defect. Defense attorney Valerie Van Leer-Greenberg told the court, “The reason for the defendant’s actions lay within her delusional mind.”
The prosecution, however, stated the Krims never noticed signs of mental illness within Ortega, and argued the crime was committed out of spite, with Ortega being jealous of her employers’ finances and family life. It was noted Ortega had recently moved her son to the United States from the Dominican Republic and enrolled him in a private high school which had placed a financial strain on Ortega. It was also shown the Krims attempted to alleviate some of this strain by offering Ortega more working hours. “Every stab, every slash,” the prosecution told the court, “each one had a purpose and that purpose was to end the lives of those children.” Assistant District Attorney Groves admitted the motive was unclear and reminded the jurors, “You may believe you have not heard a satisfactory answer, because there just isn’t a satisfactory answer. But not knowing why the defendant slaughtered Lucia and Leo Krim does not mean that she is not responsible for those actions or for those murders. It merely means there is no good answer.”
When asked if she had anything to tell the court, Ortega responded in Spanish, “I’m very sorry for everything that happened.”
Ortega was convicted of two counts of first-degree murder and two counts of second-degree murder, and was given the maximum sentence allowable: life in prison without the possibility of parole. Judge Gregory Carro addressed the court during the sentencing by saying, “The defendant knows nothing of responsibility or remorse. It is right that she should live and rot and die in a concrete and metal cage.”
A juror spoke of the emotional toll the trial had on the jury, and told the press during a news conference, “This was a very difficult decision for all of us. While the basic facts were very clear from the beginning, we also wanted to be sure that we were giving everybody a fair opportunity. It was not a decision we reached lightly or easily. There were some raised voices and a lot of tears. But I think we all feel good that we addressed all of the issues and fairly weighed everything that was presented to us.”
The Lulu & Leo Fund has since been established in the memory of Lucia and Leo Krim, to “inspire, engage, educate, heal and grow the hearts and minds of children facing hardships, giving them lifelong passion, skills and — most importantly — hope.” You can visit their website and make donations at lululeofund.org
Lulu & Leo Fund. Accessed: October 25, 2020. https://www.lululeofund.org
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