Memorial for Lucia and Leo Krim outside their family's Upper West Side Manhattan apartment building
10/27/2012 AT 09:35 AM EDT
The life of Yoselyn Ortega, the 50-year-old nanny
arrested Thursday for allegedly stabbing to death
two young children with whom she was entrusted, had been unraveling of late, according to accounts from relatives and neighbors.
"Over the last couple of months was not herself," family members told detectives, reports The New York Times
The home Ortega shared with a 17-year-old son, a sister and a niece in Upper Manhattan's Hamilton Heights was an overcrowded tenement, where she would roam the hallways selling cheap cosmetics and jewelry to neighbors who found her distant and moody, The Times
also reports – noting that, as everyone tries to put the pieces together, officials remain mystified as to what could have prompted anyone to commit such a heinous act.
Equally baffled are those closest to the nanny. "She snapped," her tearful sister, Celia Ortega, told the New York Post
. "We don’t understand what happened to her mind."
Celia told the paper she would tell her sister, "I'd give you my life," if it would bring back Lucia and Leo.
"She was, according to others, seeking some professional help," chief police spokesperson Paul J. Browne said of Yoselyn Ortega, adding, "There were financial concerns."
"She lost a lot of weight. She looked very unhealthy. It looked like she was going through some problems," Ortega's neighbor, Ruben Diaz, 49, told the Post
. "She had aged a lot – like seven years in a few months.
Lucia Krim, 6, and her brother, Leo Krim, 2, were found stabbed and bleeding in a bathroom of their Upper West Side apartment by their mother, Marina Krim, 36, when she arrived home at their upscale residence, located near Central Park, with her third child, a 3-year-old daughter named Nessie, around 5:30 p.m. Thursday, the NYPD said. Marina's screams caused neighbors to call 911.
The children's father, Kevin Krim, 37, a CNBC executive, was out of town on business at the time. Police informed him of the deaths when he landed at the airport.
"We believe now that the nanny began stabbing herself … as the mother entered the bathroom," New York Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly told reporters at a news conference Friday. Ortega, a naturalized American citizen from the Dominican Republic, has not been formally charged. In police custody, she remains hospitalized in a medically induced coma for her knife wounds, according to Kelly.
Kelly said Ortega worked for the Krims for two years, after a referral from a previous employer (rather than an agency, which customarily does background checks), and has "no history that we're aware of" with troubling incidents dealing with the family.
"No fighting with the mom, the family, the kids," an official told The Times
. "Everybody is looking for a reason here. … We've got nothing bad other than the fact that she killed two children."