Laurel Schlemmer had just returned from taking her eldest child to the bus stop when she drew a bath for her two younger children. Luke, age 3, and Daniel, age 6, were then taken into the bathroom, where Schlemmer proceeded to place the children face down in the water and sat on them until she believed they were dead.
At approximately 9:40 AM, Schlemmer calmly dialed 911. Schlemmer explained that she had allowed the boys to play in the tub alone while she went to the bathroom in the master bedroom. When Schlemmer returned, both were unconscious. Investigators found that both boys had been placed side-by-side on the bathroom floor. They had been dried off and their hair had been neatly combed.
Both boys were rushed to the hospital. Luke died upon arrival, while Daniel struggled to hold on but died a week later. Schlemmer was charged in their deaths.
It was learned that it wasn’t the first time Schlemmer had attempted to kill her two youngest children.
In 2013, Schlemmer told authorities that she had accidentally run over Luke and Daniel when she didn’t realize they had been standing behind her minivan. Both boys were treated for various broken bones and internal injuries sustained from the incident. Investigators found that Schlemmer had not just run them over once, but had backed over them several times. Doctors believed that one of the brothers would never walk again.
The family was investigated, but authorities could not prove that the incident was anything other than a careless and bizarre mistake.
Careless mistakes seemed to be a reoccurring theme. In 2009, a security guard reported that he had found Daniel inside a minivan in a mall parking lot. The window was left open just enough for Daniel to reach his tiny hand out and grab hold of the exterior door handle. Heat sensors indicated that the temperature of the van had reached 112 degrees Fahrenheit. Schlemmer was charged with child endangerment.
After she was taken into custody, Schlemmer admitted that voices had been telling her that she needed to kill her two youngest children in order to be a better mother to her oldest child. She had become obsessed that the two young children were “not normal” and when she returned from taking the boys’ older brother to the bus stop on April 1, 2014, prosecutors believe that she had every intention to kill the boys that day.
Schlemmer was forced to undergo a psychological evaluation. She was found unfit to stand trial and would have to undergo therapy under the watchful eye of the state hospital. In 2017, Schlemmer was able to confirm to a judge that she was mentally competent enough to face her day in court.
“These crazy voices were prompting me to act irrationally, and I changed clothes, and I got in there with them and held them underwater, and I felt like I was looking down on the whole thing — just kind of out of body. And then I freaked out and got out and changed my clothes and got them out,”
Schlemmer told the Judge, according to the Pittsburgh Post Gazette.
The trial proceedings — which will not be before a jury — will determine whether or not Schlemmer had been operating under a diminished mental capacity at the time she murdered her two boys.