NEW YORK -- A nanny accused of stabbing to death two young children left in her care pleaded not guilty to two counts of murder Wednesday from a hospital bed, where she has been held since trying to commit suicide by slashing her own throat and wrists.
Yoselyn Ortega’s alleged crime horrified New York City, where the sight of nannies accompanying toddlers is a common one, especially in upscale neighborhoods like the Upper West Side, where Ortega worked for the family of Marina and Kevin Krim.
According to police, Marina Krim had returned to the family’s apartment near Central Park on the evening of Oct. 25 with her 3-year-old daughter Nessie. After finding the apartment strangely dark and quiet, she checked room after room. When she pushed open a bathroom door, she discovered the bloodied bodies of another daughter, 6-year-old Lucia, and her third child, a 2-year-old boy named Leo.
Ortega, 50, was sprawled on the floor beside them with what police say were self-inflicted slash wounds that left her in critical condition. A kitchen knife lay nearby.
Ortega has been hospitalized ever since but was charged earlier this month with two counts of murder. At Wednesday’s arraignment, she was handcuffed to her hospital bed, according to the Associated Press, which was allowed into the room to watch the brief hearing. According to AP, Ortega did not speak, and the plea was entered for her by an attorney, Valerie Leer-Greenberg.
Leer-Greenberg described Ortega as “profoundly, medically impaired and in need of medical attention.” She was ordered held without bail and is scheduled to appear in court on Jan. 16.
The motive for the killings is not known, though local media have quoted some people who knew Ortega as saying she appeared to be struggling and under extreme stress in the months before the crime. To those who knew the Krim family, though, there did not appear to be any problems, and an online journal kept by Marina Krim had spoken glowingly of a family holiday to the Dominican Republic earlier this year that included visits with Ortega’s family.