Woman Charged With Murder In Drowning Deaths Of 1-Year-Old, 3-Year-Old Daughters

This story includes graphic descriptions that some readers may find disturbing.

A New Jersey mother of two was charged with murder after authorities said she drowned her two young children following an episode of “concerning thoughts.”

Naomi Elkins, 27, was charged with two counts of murder, possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose, and unlawful possession of a weapon in connection to the deaths of her 1-year-old and 3-year-old girls, Ocean County prosecutors announced Wednesday. Her family said in a statement that Elkins had a history of severe mental illness. She has not yet entered a plea.

Lakewood Township police responded to Elkins’ home at around 4:50 p.m. on Tuesday after emergency responders reported two children in cardiac arrest and attempted first aid, according to the county prosecutors’ release. The children were pronounced dead at the scene.

A vehicle of the Lakewood Police Department in Lakewood, New Jersey.
A vehicle of the Lakewood Police Department in Lakewood, New Jersey. Lakewood Police Department

Detectives investigating the incident found that both children had been drowned, and that the 1-year-old had also been stabbed, according to the release. Elkins was taken into custody without incident.

Elkins told detectives that her husband had left for a business trip the night before and she went to work at a local day care, according to a police affidavit. That same day, she started having “concerning thoughts,” as the affidavit put it, and “spent the night praying.”

Elkins said that she went to work again the next day, but when she returned home, “she believed that she needed to kill the children for religious purposes,” according to the affidavit.

She then allegedly admitted to stabbing the 1-year-old, but “indicated that she only slightly punctured [the child] with the knife.” Authorities, however, said the child had a “deep laceration, in the middle of her stomach.”

According to the affidavit, Elkins said she then took the 1-year-old to the bathroom and held her underwater in the bathtub for two to three minutes.

Elkins said her 3-year-old ran into another bathroom and was screaming because she was scared, according to the affidavit. She then ran the water in the bathtub and allegedly placed the child’s head underwater for several minutes.

“She said that she counted to 50 multiple times to ensure she held them underwater for enough time,” police wrote in the affidavit.

According the affidavit, Elkins called the Hatzolah Medical Services, a volunteer emergency medical service that operates in Jewish communities. The Lakewood area is home to a large Orthodox Jewish population. The Hatzolah responders called local authorities when they were unable to resuscitate the children.

The Elkins family said they are “deeply saddened by the tragic events that have occurred involving Naomi Elkins and her two young children,” according to a statement shared with HuffPost by her legal representative.

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

The Lakewood Scoop, a local website, published an anonymous letter from someone claiming to be a relative of Elkins. The writer asked that any media covering the incident “please, please, stress that the mother of the girls that committed this unthinkable act had a history of mental illness, specifically psychosis, though she was doing much better over the last year or so.”

“Apparently she tragically experienced some kind of psychotic episode without any warning signs at all,” the letter said. “In fact we spent shavuos together and she seemed to be doing great.”

The killings left members of the area’s Orthodox community shocked, residents told media outlets. Herschel Herskowitz, a local activist, told the Asbury Park Press that the family is well known in the area.

“When things like this happen, people go into their shell and don’t talk about it,” Herskowitz said.