Marina Krim, 37, her husband Kevin, 38, and their three children moved from California to New York City in order to follow her husband’s advancing career, as senior vice president and general manager of CNBC Digital. They moved into a beautiful pre-war apartment on the Upper West Side and were living the American Dream when unimaginable tragedy stuck.
On October 25, 2012, the family’s part-time nanny, Yoselyn Ortega, 50, was to pick up two of Marina’s children, Lulu, 6, and Leo, 2, from school, while Marina took her middle child, Nessie, 3, to swimming lessons.
Ortega called Marina and told her that rather than meet her at the swim club, she was taking the two children directly home instead. Marina, seeing nothing amiss with this request, agreed to the change of plans.
Arriving home around 5:30, Marina became concerned when she found her apartment dark and no one answering her calls. She decided to ask the doorman whether or not he had seen Ortega and her two children. He said yes, and added that they had gone up to the apartment and had not left the building.
Marina then returned to her apartment, flipping on the lights as she searched each room. It was then that she discovered the mutilated bodies of her little children. Both Lulu and Leo had been stabbed multiple times and were lying, fully clothed, in a pool of blood, at the bottom of one of the apartment’s bathtubs.
Overcome by the horrific scene Marina then discovered Ortega, who slit her own throat and wrists in front of Marina and then collapsed to the floor. Marina let out a blood-cuddling scream that could be heard in neighboring apartments. Swooping up 3-year-old Nessie, she ran out of her apartment, searching for help.
As one of her neighbors later recalled, Marina was screaming, “It’s all right, you’ll be all right, you’ll be all right.”, as she clung to Nessie. She finally collapsed at the apartment building’s mezzanine railing. This same neighbor said, “Then she would get waves of the reality of what just happened and she’d go into just plain, bloodcurdling screams, with her arms flailing out from her sides.”
Another neighbor, who also witnessed Marina’s ordeal said, “She was bent over the child, screaming and holding onto the only live child she still had. They were very deep, dark screams.”
Once Ortega had recovered from her self-inflicted wounds, it would be confirmed that she had stabbed both children, in the neck and stomach, with two kitchen knives.
But, despite Ortega’s claims that she “heard voices” that told her to murder people, two psychiatrists, and a judge, came to a different conclusion. It was determined Ortega was mentally competent to stand trial.
For many women, the monstrous murder of their children would destroy their marriages, their mental health and their lives. For Marina Krim, this was nearly her fate as well.
When Marina’s husband Kevin, who was away on a business trip, was met at the airport by police and taken directly to St. Luke’s hospital, he would find his distraught wife asking anyone who would listen, “What are we going to do now? I’ll never go back there again. They can have everything. I don’t want anything.” Marina would later recall, “I was sitting in the hospital, Nessie clinging to my chest and I was asking over and over, ‘What am I supposed to do tomorrow? How do I do this? What do we do? “
After the children’s funerals, the Krim family returned to California, to be near their families. Marina, who had just recently become a part-time art teacher, spent hours walking around her hometown trying to find answers to her children’s deaths.
Marina said, “After such an intense trauma, I felt like my brain wasn’t operating normally. How was it possible that people were just walking by this inspiring art and not noticing it?” She felt her children were sending her their love.
The experience would inspire Marina’s agonizing efforts, to make sense out of her children’s tragic deaths, with the help of the artwork she had always enjoyed.
Marina and her husband would also find solace in the words spoken by their friend, and minister, Reverend Jon Kitto, at the children’s memorial service.
The Reverend would again offer solace in response Kevin’s poignant question, “How did someone with his faith try to understand this horrific violence.” The answer that Rev. Kitto gave to Kevin Krim — who’d suffered the cruelest, most unjust and inexplicable devastation that could happen to a young father — was shared with the world in Kevin’s December 2012 post on Facebook.
Reverend Kitto replied, “The concept of a God that rights all wrongs, and makes all things well, is not one that I know. The concept of the God I know is one that lives within you and me. It is the capacity to feel love and give love … You must continue to love. You must continue to be loved. It is your love-bound obligation not to let your capacity for love wither, but to hold up what you gained, and let the love that you’ve had, flourish.”
Kevin would later explain that, “We had every reason to feel alienated from the world after this happened. And to really, truly survive and to live again, we had to have a reason to live.” This reason would be their one surviving child, Nessie, who needed their love more than ever.
As her father wrote in a message on Facebook, “She is very smart, beautiful and tough. She’s grown so much over the past two months. She saves us every day.”
Marina recalls, “I remember looking at our daughter Nessie in the darkest days and I so admired her ability to just live in the present… Though she missed her siblings, she was laughing and enjoying herself and making every heartbroken person in the room smile.”
Little, 3-year-old Nessie would become her parent’s guardian angel, guiding them through the blackest days of their lives. She truly brought her mother back from the brink of insanity.
The Krims are still struggling with the tragic loss of their two little children but they continue to fight for theirs, and Nessie’s, future happiness as well.
One day, while continuing to wander her neighborhoods searching for answers, Marina realized that, “There was still a way to connect with Lulu and Leo, through art, beauty and creative thinking.”
And to this end, in November of 2012, Kevin and Marina founded The Lulu and Leo Fund, in memory of their two children. The fund raises money for, and gives grants to, arts and science programs designed for young children, at museums, schools and other institutions.
And, on October 11, 2013, the Krims welcomed a new addition to their family, 8 pound 11 ounce son Felix. Life was beginning to be renewed.
Through the grace of God, Marina Krim is truly a brave and admirable woman but, we could say the same about little Nessie Krim as well, because she saved her mother from the depths of unfathomable despondency.
Update: In October of 2015 the Krims announced that they are happily expecting another baby boy in January 2016, while at the same time, Ortega, who claimed she killed the children because their mother forced her to be a “cleaning lady” at her home, rejected a plea deal which would have given her 30 years to life for the murder of the Krims two little children.