N.J. Daycare Worker Accused of Drowning Her 2 Kids Allegedly Said She Did It for 'Religious Purposes'

Naomi Elkins “said that she counted to 50 multiple times to ensure she held them underwater for enough time,” per the charging documents

<p>Ocean County Corrections</p> Naomi Elkins in June 2024 mugshot.

Ocean County Corrections

Naomi Elkins in June 2024 mugshot.

The New Jersey woman allegedly began to have “concerning thoughts,” after her husband went out of state for a business trip last month, according to charging documents in a newly-filed double homicide case.

That Thursday, May 24 day, Naomi Elkins, 27 — the mother of two small children — returned with her girls from the Lakewood, N.J., daycare where she worked, and, troubled by her thoughts, allegedly “spent the night praying,” per the charging documents obtained by News 12 and reviewed by PEOPLE.

According to prosecutors, those disturbing thoughts returned Tuesday, June 25, when, coming home from Giggle Daycare with her daughters — who were 1 and 3 years old and whose names have been redacted from the charging documents — Elkins allegedly “believed that she needed to kill the children for religious purposes.”

Related: N.J. Mom Accused of Drowning Her Young Children, 1 and 3, and Stabbing One Victim: Prosecutor

Elkins allegedly later told authorities, per the charging documents, that she stabbed one of her daughters, then, placing that girl on the couch, ran a bath and put her in the tub and “[held] her underwater” for what she estimated to be two to three minutes.

Her other daughter “ran into another bathroom and was screaming because she was scared,” per Elkins’s alleged account summarized in the charging documents. Following her daughter into the bathroom, Elkins allegedly ran another bath and then forced her under the water “for several minutes.”

Authorities allege in the charging documents that Elkins told them “she counted to 50 multiple times to ensure she held them underwater for enough time.”

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Afterward, the New Jersey mother allegedly “realized that she had done something wrong,” and called Hatzolah Medical Services — first in Brooklyn, N.Y. and then closer by in Lakewood, N.J.

Her two daughters were pronounced dead — each of a pediatric cardiac arrest — within six minutes of each other that June evening.

One of the girls had a “deep laceration” through the center of her stomach, with a “superficial stab wound” on her back, per the charging documents.

While being questioned by investigators, Elkins allegedly said, per the charging documents “that what she did was wrong,” and at the suggestion of a detective, allegedly wrote a letter to her daughters in which she “references killing” them.

Elkins, who has since been booked into Ocean County Jail, is charged with two counts of murder, one count of unlawful possession of a weapon and one count of possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose.

Elkins — who has not yet entered a plea in the case — is slated for a detention hearing Monday, July 1 at 9 a.m. in Ocean County Superior Court, the clerk's office confirms to PEOPLE.

“The sad truth is, Naomi Elkins has a well-documented history of severe mental illness which has absolutely played a major role in these devastating events,” her defense lawyer, Mitchell J. Ansell, said in an emailed statement, adding that the Elkins family was “deeply saddened by the tragic events that have occurred involving Naomi Elkins and her two young children.”

Noting the "seriousness of the charges," he said “we also believe that it's important to recognize the incredible complexities presented by mental health challenges.”

“At this time, we kindly ask for the public's prayers and support for all those that have been affected by this tragedy,” he continued. “We are committed to pursuing the most just and fair outcome through the legal system taking into account all of the circumstances involved.”

Neighbors — many belonging to New Jersey’s Orthodox Jewish community — told ABC7 that the couple and their two daughters had moved into the two-family home a few months earlier.

If you suspect child abuse, call the Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-4-A-Child or 1-800-422-4453, or go to www.childhelp.org. All calls are toll-free and confidential. The hotline is available 24/7 in more than 170 languages.

If you or someone you know needs mental health help, text "STRENGTH" to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741 to be connected to a certified crisis counselor.

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