(Special thanks to Amanda for the post)
Laurel Michelle Schlemmer, 40, of McCandless, Pennsylvania, is facing charges of criminal homicide, criminal attempted homicide, aggravated assault and endangering the welfare of children after she allegedly held her two youngest children (Daniel, 6 and Luke, 3) under the water in an attempt to kill them.
Family, friends and neighbors have rallied around the family trying to come to terms with such a huge tragedy. Laurel, who went by her middle name, Michelle was described as a loving, caring mother who was often seen outside playing with her children. The Schlemmer’s were a religious family who regularly attended a church that Laurel had attended even before marriage, but behind the smiles and friendship there was a terrible pattern of “accidents” involving her youngest children at the hands of their mother.
The first incident happened in 2009 when Laurel was cited by police after leaving one of her children in the car while she went shopping. The windows were cracked, but the inside of the car reached a sweltering 112 degrees. When Laurel returned to the car, she apologized to the officers and plead guilty for the charge and paid a fine. Now, I was unable to find out the name of the child in the car at the time, but the youngest son probably wasn’t born in 2009 leading me to wonder if this was Laurel’s first attempt to kill her middle son, Daniel.
The second incident happened a year ago (April 16, 2013) when Laurel “accidentally” backed up her van, running over Daniel and Luke. A family spokesperson confirmed that during that accident, Daniel suffered unspecified internal injuries and Luke suffered broken legs and was unable to walk for a while afterwards. Police called in Allegheny Counties Office of Children, Youth and Family to investigate the incident. Both police and CYF determined it was an accident and did not recommend criminal charges.
On April 1st, after Mark Schlemmer had gone to work, Laurel took their 7-year-old son to the bus stop as usual (was unable to find his name). When she returned home, she filled the bathtub and instructed Daniel and Luke to take off their pajamas and get in the tub. Laurel then stepped into the tub, fully clothed which is when “crazy voices” began telling her to push the children into the water. She is even reported to have sat on the children in order to keep them under. At some point, Laurel removed the unresponsive children from the bathtub, laid them on the bathroom floor and called 911. Police and paramedics arrived a short while later.
3-year-old Luke was pronounced dead at the hospital and 6-year-old Daniel was listed in critical condition until April 5th when he too died. When asked why she killed her children, Laurel said that she felt that she would be a better mother to her 7-year-old if the other two were not around and that “…they would be better off in heaven”
Police and CYF have reopened the 2009 and 2013 incidences and are investigating whether anything could have been done to prevent this tragedy. I personally think Laurel was correct when she said the children would be better off in heaven. She doesn’t deserve to be their mother.
RIP Daniel and Luke.
Thanks to Brigette and Kayden for the tips.