(Photo: Allegheny County Police)
The pastor of a woman accused of murdering her 3-year-old son and the attempted murder of her 6-year-old son is speaking out about his views of the family and asking people not to judge but to pray.
Laurel Michelle Schlemmer of McCandless, Pennsylvania faces charges of homicide and attempted homicide after trying to drown her sons in the bathtub. This comes after she tried to back up over them with her van, causing one of the boys to have numerous broken bones and the other to suffer from internal injuries. Both boys were hospitalized after the incident, which was labeled an accident. There were no charges brought against Schlemmer, and the boys were left in her custody.
"Um, my two sons," Laurel said in the 911 call released by the Post-Gazette. "I think that they've, they've drowned in our bathtub. I, uh, let my 6- and 3-year old sons play in the bathtub a little bit before their bath this morning. And, uh, I was, and then I went to, to the restroom and, um, took longer than I should have or planned and then I came back. They're unconscious."
When police responded, Laurel told authorities, she told them that she had held the bodies under the water and sat on them. She added that a voice told her she could be a better mother to the older boy if her younger children "were in heaven."
"I knew that there were some anxiety issues, that she had had and that they were working through those with some medical assistance, but they seemed fine," Reverend Dan Hendley told The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. "We all had sympathy for Michelle (Laurel). She thought they had run inside, and in fact they were still behind the van. What really happened there, God knows, but that's the way we were dealing with that at the time."
Laurel and husband Mark married in 2005 and had three sons. The 6-year-old survivor is still in the hospital, in a coma suffering from oxygen deprivation.
Rev. Bob Shull, the pastor who officiated the Schlemmer's wedding, said that Laurel and Mark "were a wonderful couple, strong Christians. There were no signs of any of this. Only God knows exactly what went on," he told TribLive.