A mother charged with murder in the drownings of her two young girls in the bathtub of their South Los Angeles home committed suicide while in jail, an L.A. County sheriff’s spokesman confirmed.
The death of Lorna Valle, 33, was reported Feb. 23 at the Lynwood jail but was not made public by sheriff’s officials. Los Angeles County coroner’s officials said Valle, who was awaiting trial, died of asphyxiation after placing a bag over her head.
Sheriff’s spokesman Steve Whitmore said Valle died at the Century Regional Detention Facility in Lynwood but denied the department had anything to hide, noting jail officials do not routinely release identities of those who commit suicide while in custody. He called the drownings “horrific.”
“We will always respond to inquiries and depending on the circumstances, from time to time, we will release that information,” Whitmore said. “But generally we do not release specifics about an individual who because of a desperate, tragic act, takes their own life in jail. Legally, it is an event that should remain private out of respect for family and loved ones.”
The case grew out of the Feb. 15, 2012, drownings of Valle’s daughters Marian, 5, and 1-year-old Linsday. LAPD investigators said the girls’ father came home from the grocery store and found Valle attempting to drown her daughters and tried to stop her.
But when firefighters arrived at the home in the 900 block of West 50th Street, the girls were unconscious and unresponsive. The rescuers said they tried to resuscitate the girls and rushed them to a hospital.
Valle, who police said may have a history of mental illness, was immediately taken into custody.
Valle’s younger daughter, Lindsay, died that day while Marian lingered for several days in a coma before she was pronounced dead at Children’s Hospital L.A., prosecutors said.