"It's like a horror movie. I go down, I walk down the hall and I see the light on under the back of the door, and I'm like, 'Oh God it's so quiet in here, oh God. Why is it so quiet?' And I open the door. And I open the door, oh God!"
It was the 25th of October 2012. A Thursday. Marina Krim took her three year old daughter Nessie to her swim class at a nearby YMCA. It was a normal day, one that involved the children going to different classes. Her other daughter, Lucia, had a ballet dance class that day. Her nanny of two years Yoselyn Ortega was due to drop Lucia off and Marina said that she would collect Lucia on her way home at 5.30pm.
Marina lived with her husband Kevin and their three children, Lucia who they liked to call Lulu, Nessie and Leo in a beautiful neighborhood just one block from Central Park in New York, United States.
Marina and Kevin Krim
Marina and Kevin moved to New York from San Francisco. Marina was a stay at home mother and Kevin was a CNBC executive. They moved to New York for Kevin's work. His work required a lot of travel so he asked Marina if she would consider childcare. Nessie was born with hip dysplasia and after surgery, she was confined to a body cast while recovering. Hiring a nanny would allow them to spend more time with the children and ensure they didn't miss out on anything. Marina agreed.
Yoselyn Ortega's sister recommended Yoselyn to Marina and Kevin. Yoselyn's sister worked for another family in the neighborhood. She provided a reference and recommendation from a professional musician's email account and details of her experience. They hired Yoselyn.
Marina and Kevin paid Yoselyn well and even though her contract was for 25 hours a week, they tried to find her other work when she needed it. Yoselyn was from the Dominican Republic and in February 2012, the Krim family travelled with her to the Dominican Republic. The Krims paid for the nine day trip and they even stayed in the home of one of Yoselyn's sisters for one night. They all had a great time on that trip.
The children seemed to love Yoselyn. They called her Josie. So that day, the 25th of October, Marina had no idea what to think when Lucia was not at her dance class. But she was worried that something may have happened to one of the children so she tried to urgently reach Yoselyn. But she couldn't reach her by phone so she made her way straight home.
Marina, Lucia and Lou
When Marina arrived at their home, she asked the doorman if he saw Yoselyn or the children. He said they did not leave the apartment again after they had returned earlier that day.
Marina made her way to to their apartment and was immediately struck by how eerily quiet it was. The apartment was almost in complete darkness except for a slight glow from a light in the back bathroom. Marina walked towards that bathroom fearing that she would discover something bad had happened. But she had no idea just how bad it would be.
Marina's two children, Lucia and Lou, were in the bathroom with Yoselyn. All three of them had been stabbed. The two children were in the bathtub side by side. Marina saw Lucia first. She knew she was dead because her eyes were fixed. There was blood all over her dress. Leo was next to her with blood on him too.
At that point Marina ran on to the landing screaming. She said:
"It was a scream you can't imagine is even inside of you. I don't even know where it came from. I just thought: 'I'm never going to be able to talk to them ever again. They are dead. I just saw my kids dead.'"
Lucia and Lou had been stabbed to death with such force that they had almost been decapitated. Six year old Lucia had tried to wriggle free from her attacker. There were defensive wounds all over her body. She was stabbed more than 30 times.
There were no defensive wounds on Leo's body. He was just about to turn 2 years old. He was stabbed from behind and stabbed 5 times.
Police arrived and found Yoselyn in the bathroom. She was alive but was injured. She had stab wounds and a slash across her neck. She tried to stop the bleeding with a towel.
It was immediately clear that police did not need to look for anybody else in relation to the crime. The person who had killed the two little children was right in front of them. Yoselyn had stabbed the children to death before trying to take her own life.
Marina tried desperately to get hold of Kevin. She left him a voicemail. That day, Kevin was flying back from California. When the plane landed, he had multiple text messages and voicemails. When the plane landed the flight crew asked everyone to remain in their seats. The NYPD needed one passenger to exit first. That passenger was Kevin.
From all the messages, Kevin knew two of his children were dead but did not know which ones or how they died. He played Marina's voicemail and all he could hear was screaming. When he got off the plane, Kevin collapsed in front of it. Two police officers helped him up and he can't remember if he walked or was carried the rest of the way out of the airport.
Kevin was taken to the hospital and a Doctor told him Lucia and Lou were dead.
Yoselyn was charged with murder. Before the Trial even began, her lawyers argued that she was not fit to stand Trial. The Court disagreed. So the Trial could go ahead. Yoselyn pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity.
When the Trial began, the Jury was told that who killed the children was not in dispute. Yoselyn killed them. The Jury had to determine whether she knew what she was doing or not.
It was the Prosecution's case that Yoselyn had full knowledge of what she was doing. The morning of the 25th of October, before she went to work, she left her cellphone and other important documents on a doorknob in her apartment. They believed she was getting her affairs in order because she planned to kill the children and herself that day.
Kevin, Lucia and Marina
They believed she waited until the apartment was empty so she could be alone and then she selected two knives from the kitchen to use to stab the children and herself.
The Prosecution told the Jury that there wasn't a clear motive in the case and they may not find out why she killed the children that day. They told the Jury:
"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."
The Prosecution believed that she may have resented Marina and was jealous of her. Yoselyn was having financial problems. She could no longer afford to pay rent on her Brooklyn apartment and send her son to private school so she moved in with her sister and her sister's daughter. In statements she provided to the police, Yoselyn appeared to be an unhappy employee. She initially told police she hurt the children because she was having money problems and was angry at the parents. She was unhappy that her schedule constantly changed and that they expected her to clean even though she didn't want to. She claimed that cleaning was not part of her job.
Lou and Lucia Krim
The Prosecution called Thomas Brown to give evidence. Thomas was a doorman at the building where the Krim's apartment was in 2012. He testified that in all her time working there , Yoselyn never spoke to him once except for that day, the 25th of October. As she entered the lobby with Lucia and Leo, she asked him:
“Is the mom upstairs?”
Thomas told her that she had left.
The Jury heard how Lucia had fought back and was slashed and stabbed about 30 times. The Prosecution submitted evidence about the slashes on her arms, twisted stabs on the front and back of her torso which suggested that she tried to struggle free from the grip of her nanny. Leo suffered five wounds. Assistant District Attorney Courtney Groves said:
"There was no way to save them. The devastation the defendant had inflicted on their little bodies was too much."
Marina testified at the Trial. She told the Court of the harrowing scene that greeted her and finding her children dead. Marina told the Court that there was no sign at all that Yoselyn was insane or suffering from any mental health issues. This was something that Kevin also testified to. She recalled one incident in particular that had disturbed her. Just weeks before the two children were killed, Marina told Yoselyn that she was pregnant with their fourth child. Yoselyn was thrilled and gave her a big hug. Sadly the pregnancy ended in a miscarriage shortly after that and Marina testified that Yoselyn's reaction was strange:
“When I told her that, she didn’t say anything. She gave me no emotion at all. She looked mad that I had this miscarriage.”
Marina said that the thing that disturbed her was when she noticed Yoselyn staring at her with an evil look one day.
It was the Defense's case that Yoselyn did not know what she was doing that day. They believed she had an undiagnosed mental illness that worsened in the moments leading up to the attack. When inside the apartment that day she just snapped and did not know what she was doing as she stabbed the children.
They claimed she suffered from:
“major depression, psychotic thinking, hallucinations.”
Her lawyer Valerie Van Leer-Greenburg told the Court that:
“The evidence will show that she has a corroborated history of hearing voices and disassociating from reality, since the age of 16.”
They claimed she heard voices, saw visions and sometimes those visions and voices commanded her to act. But she did not seek help.
They called Psychiatrist Karen Rosenbaum to testify. Karen said that Yoselyn had a history of depression and anxiety. She did not mention it to any Doctor in the past because she did not want people to think she was crazy.
Yoselyn's friends and family said that she had appeared to be struggling both emotionally and financially in the weeks leading up to that October evening.
The Defense ended their case by urging the Jury to find their client not guilty by reason of insanity:
"Mental illness does not announce itself like a bad cough or a limp. Sometimes it sneaks up and nestles in before anyone takes notice."
The Jury did not believe she was too insane to be held responsible. They found her guilty on two counts each of first-degree and second-degree murder.
Yoselyn did not react to the verdict as it was read out. She stared straight ahead. When she was led from the Courtroom she wiped a tear from her eye.
Marina and Kevin Krim
At her sentencing hearing, Kevin Krim pleaded with the Judge to sentence her to life in prison. He argued that she should "live, rot and die" behind bars.
Yoselyn was sentenced to two consecutive sentences of 25 years to life in prison – one per murder.
Marina and Kevin had two more children, Felix and Linus, after the murders. They created a non-profit “Lulu and Leo Fund” to foster creativity among children. "Lulu and Leo's law" has been introduced in the New York state legislature. Kevin wanted to make it a crime to falsify job applications and references for someone working in childcare. Yoselyn had been recommended by her sister, a nanny for another New York family, and her background and references were faked by her family.
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"The criminal justice system will take a hard look at what happened to Matthew Eappen. It is up to the rest of us to take an even harder look at who is minding our children."
- Eileen McNamara, the Boston Globe
"The effects of abuse are devastating and far reaching. Domestic violence speaks many languages, has many colors and lives in many different communities."
- Sandra Pupatello
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