In case you couldn't tell from the title, this story involves the brutal murder of 2 young children. Proceed forward at your heart's own risk.
On October 25, 2012, Lucia and Leo Krim were murdered by their part-time nanny, Yoselyn Ortega in their apartment building on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, New York City. The nanny stabbed the children to death with kitchen knives while their mother and 3-year-old sister were a few blocks away at a swim lesson.
When their mother arrived home, she found her 2 children dead in a bathtub. Then, Ortega began repeatedly stabbing herself in the neck and throat. She survived.
The case wouldn't go to trial for another 6 years. Juries were selected on February 22, 2018, and the trial began on March 1. Ortega was found guilty of both first and second degree murder, and sentenced to life in prison without parole on May 14, 2018.
Marina and Kevin Krim lived on the Upper West Side in New York City in an apartment with their 3 children. Kevin Krim was a digital content executive at CNBC and Marina Krim left her job as a kindergarten teacher to become a stay-at-home mom to their children, but she worked as an art teacher and blogger on the side.
Their 3 children were 6-year-old Lucia (who went by Lulu), 3-year-old Nessie, and 2-year-old Leo.
Yoselyn Ortega was originally from Santiago de los Caballeros in the Dominican Republic, but was a US citizen for 10 years at the time of the crime. She was 50 years old living in Hamilton Heights with her 17-year-old son, her sister, and her niece. The Krim's paid her $18 an hour for her nannying services.
Kevin had pushed for a nanny back in 2010 when Marina was pregnant with their 3rd child. He was overloaded at work and she was overloaded at home, and it seemed like the right time. They learned about Ms. Ortega when her sister approached them during one of Lulu's ballet classes, and said she was an experienced nanny. They learned this was untrue, but it was too late. Ms. Ortega provided phony references and people lied for her to get the job.
Before the massacre, Ortega had become upset with Marina when she had asked for more hours due to money troubles, and she suggested that she also do housework on top of watching the children. (A reasonable suggestion - it isn't like a parent would just say "sure, we'll leave our children more so you can make money", so compromising with providing more work seemed fair.) However, she was upset that the Krims didn't just offer her more money.
They also offered her son odd jobs, like walking the dog, and sometimes gave work to her sister. They recommended her to friends who needed a nanny while going out of town to try to help her make ends meet.
However, friends and family of the Krims and of Ortega said that she was wonderful with the children and was treated very well by the family. They had once paid for her plane ticket to visit her family in the Dominican, and once they accompanied her on a vacation there.
On October 25, 2012, just after 5:30 pm, Marina and Nessie returned from the 3-year-old's swimming lesson at a nearby YMCA. She had returned to the apartment earlier than was typical because their nanny hadn't brought Lulu to her ballet lesson, where they agreed to meet.
She walked into their apartment, but the lights were off and she didn't find anyone inside. She went to the lobby to ask the doorman if he had seen them come or go, and he said that they had returned to the apartment shortly before. So, they went back upstairs.
She looked around, and came across the gruesome scene, a scene no human should ever have to witness, but especially not a mother of her young children. She found her 6-year-old daughter and 2-year-old son in the bathtub, filled with blood, with multiple stab wounds on each of them. They were motionless.
After she saw Marina discover the carnage, Ortega, who was laying on the floor next to the bathtub, began slashing her own wrists and violently stabbing herself in the neck with the kitchen knife she had used to murder the children. The horrific scene was also witnessed by the superintendent of the building and his 10-year-old son.
Police were called, and the bodies of the 2 small children were removed from the building. Ortega told investigators that Lucia fought back during the attack, and that Leo was sleeping when the attack began.
"One minute I was heading over to pick up my daughter Luly from ballet, the next I was huddled in the back of an ambulance with my only living child," Marina said.
Marina Krim had walked in to her home to find her children slaughtered. But her husband, Kevin, was on a business trip during the time. He landed at Kennedy Airport, knowing something was wrong when his phone started blowing up with messages. The captain announced that the police needed to escort someone off the plane.
He answered the phone from his brother-in-law, who told him that his children had been killed. "It was the worst thing imaginable. I was hoping this is just a nightmare and it wasn't," he said, mentioning how he was crying and flailing around once he arrived at the hospital.
Once he finally saw his wife, he said he hugged her and she fell into his arms. She said, "Kevin, we are not going to get divorced over this. Oprah always said people get divorced after they lose kids." Together, they did the toughest thing imaginable and went into an examination room where they were able to see their children one last time.
THE TRIAL AND AFTERMATH
Ortega was indicted on.2 counts of first degree murder in November. She made nearly 90 court appearances over the next 5 years. In 2016, a Judge made her an offer of 30-years to life in prison, as opposed to a life sentence without parole, in exchange for a guilty plea. She rejected the offer. She wanted to go to trial.
On February 22, 2018, 12 jurors were selected for the trial, and opening statements began on March 1. The trial was anticipated to last for 4 months, but ended after less than 2. She pursued a psychiatric defense, her lawyers arguing that she was mentally ill and thus shouldn't be held responsible for her acts.
She remained stoic throughout the trial, even during the graphic testimony describing the horrific murder of the young children.
The jury found her guilty of first degree murder and second degree murder. She was sentenced to life in prison on May 14, 2018, the judge claiming she was "pure evil". The judge said he had no doubt that "untreated mental illness played a significant role" in her actions, but that it was her responsibility to have sought treatment that she needed.
During sentencing, Marina said that Ortega's goal was "to destroy what Kevin and I had created and built - an inspired, happy, thriving family". but she said she had failed. "The defendant may think she destroyed Lulu and Leo. But she is a failure in this, too. Lulu and Leo are powerful forces. They are 2 stars now, that will always lead us forward."
Since 2012, the Krims have welcomed 2 new bundles of joy in their lives, 2 sons. They had Felix in 2013 and Linus in 2016.
They have also created the Lulu & Leo Fund, a non-profit organization that provides creative education programs for disadvantaged children. "As the parents of Lulu and Leo, we know that art and nature played a critical role in their short, beautiful lives," Marina said regarding the organization's core purpose, to provide every child engagement with art and creativity.
And, like so many parents, the Krims were thrust into the world of changing and adapting legislation to save someone else's child. The New York State Assembly and State Senate passed Lulu & Leo's Law in June of 2018, the first of its kind in the country: It makes it a crime to knowingly and materially misrepresent qualifications of any person applying to work as a caregiver of children.
"We hired the woman who murdered our children based on a deliberate set of lies," Kevin Krim said during the bill signing announcement. "Thanks to Governor Cuomo's support and the hard work of sponsors Assemlyman Otis, Senator Lanza and their co-sponsor, there is now a strong deterrent for that kind of deception."
This case is the worst of all time. I hate it so much. I cannot imagine a single second of it, in anyone's shoes. I cannot imagine Marina walking into her home and finding her children dead in a blood soaked bathtub, and then watching her nanny, who she entrusted the care of her children in, begin to stab herself. I cannot imagine Kevin, on a normal business trip, getting a call that his children had been slaughtered. I cannot imagine the pain and the heartbreak, but also the immense amount of strength to be able to continue on, and continue creating a loving, creative, beautiful home for your children. I can't imagine knowing that the woman you hired, with nothing but good intentions, had the capability and willingness to stab your children to death.
The strength exhibited by the Krims to put their efforts into legislation to make children safer, and into charitable work to make children happier while going through a nightmare so uniquely horrific is astounding.
RIP to Lulu and Leo. Your memory lives on in the amazing things your parents have done to remember you.