NJ mom drowned daughters in bathtub for ‘religious purposes’

A New Jersey mother accused of drowning her two young daughters in a bathtub told authorities she carried out the murders “for religious purposes,” according to court documents.

Naomi Elkins, of Lakewood, was arrested Tuesday night and charged with two counts of murder and two counts of weapons offenses after authorities found both of her daughters, ages 1 and 3, dead at her Ocean County home.

Investigators later concluded both of the girls were drowned, and that the 1-year-old had also been stabbed, according to a press release from Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley Billhimer.

In a subsequent interview with police, 27-year-old Elkins said she started having “concerning thoughts” about her children last month, shortly after her husband left for a business trip on May 24, according to an affidavit reviewed by the Daily News.

She said spent time praying before she stabbed her younger daughter, drew a bath and then held her beneath the water for nearly three minutes.

When her older child appeared in the room, screaming, Elkins said she picked her up and put her in another bathtub, where she forced her underwater too.

She said she “counted to 50 multiple times to ensure she held them underwater for enough time,” according to the documents.

Elkins believed at the time that she “needed to kill the children for religious purposes,” but in the immediate aftermath of the drownings, she said she realized she’d made a mistake. She told authorities she called Hatzolah Medical Services, who were already at the home trying to resuscitate the girls when officers arrived.

The youngest child was found with a “deep laceration in the middle of her stomach,” and a “superficial stab wound on the left side of her back,” the affidavit said.

Officers later found a serrated knife in a hallway bathroom sink.

Both children were pronounced dead on the scene, and Elkins was taken into custody without further issue.

In a statement to the Asbury Park Press, defense attorney Mitchell Ansell said Elkins “has a well-documented history of severe mental illness, which has absolutely played a major role in these devastating events.”

He continued: “While we acknowledge the seriousness of the charges that she is facing and respect them, we also believe that it’s important to recognize the incredible complexities presented by mental health challenges.”

Elkins, who authorities say worked at Giggles Daycare in Lakewood, is being held without bail at the Ocean County Jail.