Daniel Schlemmer, the second son of the Pittsburgh mother who drowned both he and his brother, Luke, in a hot tub, has died. Laurel Michelle Schlemmer, 40, drowned her children, 6-year-old Daniel and 3-year-old Luke, and blamed the “crazy voices” in her head. Daniel had been on life support with no discernible brain activity since Tuesday, when the horrible act occurred. Luke passed away on Tuesday within an hour of his arrival at the hospital.
Laurel has told authorities that after her third son left the house on Tuesday morning and headed for school, “crazy voices” began telling her to drown her boys in the bathtub of their McCandless, PA home. She added that it was her belief that her boys would be “better off in heaven,” and that she would be a better mother to her third child if they were dead. After putting her boys in the tub fully clothed, Laurel sat on them in order to keep them underwater. After her children were still, she told investigators that she removed them from the tub and placed them on the bathroom floor. She then removed her own wet clothing and placed it in a garbage bag. She next walked into the study of her home at about 9:40 a.m. and phoned 911, telling the dispatcher multiple stories regarding what had occurred. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported that her initial version of events was that she had discovered the boys unconscious in the tub where they had been playing.
During her approximately five minute call with an Allegheny County 911 dispatcher, Laurel Schlemmer stayed fairly calm, although at times her shaking voice indicated that she may cry. For the duration of the call she was polite, calling the dispatcher “sir.” After around three minutes, the dispatcher asked her to go back into the bathroom and begin CPR on the boys. He asked Laurel if there was anything in the mouths of the boys, and she replied, “Just water.” As paramedics arrived, she said “thank you” and hung up. She next directed the first responders to head upstairs and called for her own mother, who was at the home while the events occurred.
After her arrest, Laurel’s pastor, Dan Hendley, came forward to relate an incident that occurred years ago in which Laurel backed her van into the boys in their grandparents’ driveway. At first it was thought an accident but in the face of Tuesday’s events, it now seems much more sinister. She was questioned by police after the incident but was never indicted.
Prosecutors charged Laurel with criminal homicide, child endangerment and aggravated assault after the death of Luke. She is in the Allegheny County jail on suicide watch and is awaiting a psychiatric evaluation. No bail was set during her bond hearing on Thursday during which she remained silent, letting her attorney, Michael Machen, speak for her.
Hendley has been in contact with Laurel’s husband and the father of the boys, Mark Schlemmer. He stated that Mark is obviously supporting his son during this time, but that he would also like the chance to support Laurel, to “hug her and express his love for her.” According to Hendley, Mark is distressed at what has happened, but he is not angry at Laurel.
By Jennifer Pfalz