IN a copycat crime that’s stunned the nation, cops say a woman drowned two of her young sons in a bathtub.
Stay-at-home mom Laurel Schlemmer, 40, claimed “crazy voices” told her to sit on Daniel, 6, and Luke, 3, in the bathtub of their McCandless, Pa., home on April 1.
The despicable deed follows in the chilling footsteps of Andrea Yates, who drowned her five children in 2001.
“Andrea Yates was committed to a mental health facility after being found not guilty by reason of insanity, and there’s a definite connection here,” said top criminal profiler Pat Brown.
“When one person commits a heinous act and fails to pay the full price, other people follow.”
On the surface, Laurel and her husband Mark, an actuary, seemed like an ordinary couple. They married in 2005, and she quit her teaching job to raise their three sons.
“They were a wonderful couple, strong Christians,” said the Rev. Bob Shull, who officiated at their wedding.
But there were red flags in Laurel’s behavior. In September 2009, she was cited for leaving a toddler unattended in a parked car with an interior temperature of 112 degrees. The kid wasn’t hurt, and Laurel got off with a small fine. Ten months ago, cops questioned Laurel after she backed into Daniel and Luke with her van. Daniel suffered internal injuries, and Luke was unable to walk for a time. But the incident was deemed an accident.
Then on April 1, the unimaginable happened. After the couple’s 7-year-old son boarded his school bus around 8:40 a.m., Laurel ordered her two younger boys to undress and get in the tub.
She told police later that she heard “crazy voices” telling her to push the boys underwater. After that, she says she got into the tub “fully clothed” and sat on top of them.
According to cops, she then pulled both unconscious boys out of the tub, laid them on the bathroom floor and called 911.
During the five-minute 911 call, she said: “Um, my two sons. I think they’ve drowned in our bathtub.” She told the dispatcher she let the boys play in the tub while she went to the restroom. When she returned, both were unconscious.
The operator asked if the boys had anything in their mouths. “Just water,” she replied.
Laurel also claimed that she never attempted CPR because she didn’t know how. Luke died that day. Daniel was put on life support but passed away four days later.
After the tragedy, Laurel told detectives she “thought she could be a better mother” to her oldest son “if the other two boys weren’t around.” She also believed the two boys “would be better off in heaven.”
Charged with criminal homicide, reckless endangerment, aggravated assault and tampering with physical evidence for hiding her wet clothes, Laurel is now being held behind bars without bond.