Yoselyn Ortega, the 50-year-old nanny who stabbed two of her charges to death on the Upper West Side on Thursday evening, has awoken from a medically induced coma at New York-Presbyterian Hospital, where she is recovering from her own, self-inflicted injuries. However, DNAinfo reports that she is in a “catatonic state” and is “not speaking or responding to anyone or anything,” though doctors say she should be physically able to do so. So, while police have yet to question her about what caused her to kill two-year-old Leo and six-year-old Lulu Krim, Ortega’s family and neighbors have come forward to say that she seemed stressed and unstable in recent weeks, possibly because of financial problems.
Earlier this year, Ortega and her teenage son moved from the Hamilton Heights apartment they’d been sharing with her sister to a place of their own in the Bronx. However, the owner of the apartment — an acquaintance who’d relocated to the Dominican Republic — returned to the United States a few months ago and kicked Ortega out, forcing her back to her sister’s home on Riverside Drive. (The sister, 53-year-old Celia Ortega, who referred Yoselyn to the kids’ mother, Marina Krim, a few years ago, told the New York Post, “She snapped. We don’t understand what happened to her mind.”)
Neighbors reported that she had begun selling jewelry and makeup in the building to make ends meet, and that a woman who had joined her in that venture had recently cheated her out of some desperately needed funds. “She spent a lot of money on the Bronx apartment,” explained her superintendent, Fernando Mercado. Another building resident, Ruben Rivas, said Ortega seemed “kind of devastated” by the situation. Another neighbor, Ruben Diaz, said, “She lost a lot of weight. She looked very unhealthy. It looked like she was going through some problems. She had aged a lot — like seven years in a few months.”
Ortega had apparently seen a psychiatrist because, as she told one friend, “she felt like she was losing her mind.” However, her relationship with the Krim family and her behavior at work appeared to be mostly normal. As a police spokesman put it, there was “no fighting with the mom, the family, the kids.” The victims’ grandmother, Karen Krim, told the New York Daily News, “My daughter-in-law, if she thought there was anything wrong, she would have never left the two with her. This had to be something simmering inside this woman. Obviously, she went insane.” A neighbor of the Krims, Charlotte Friedman, who took the elevator with Ortega and the children immediately before the attack, said that she’d often found the nanny “cold,” though she did smile as the six-year-old, Lulu, described her dance lesson to Friedman before the three got off on the second floor.