McCandless mom accused of drowning son on suicide watch

by: Margaret Harding, TribLIVE Updated:

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PITTSBURGH - The McCandless mother accused of drowning one son and trying to drown another who clings to life is on suicide watch.

Allegheny Common Pleas Judge Jeffrey Manning ordered Laurel Michelle Schlemmer, 40, to undergo a behavioral evaluation and denied her bond on charges of homicide, attempted homicide aggravated assault and other counts.

This article was written by Channel 11's news exchange partners at TribLIVE.

He also granted a request by defense attorney Michael Machen to allow a defense-hired psychiatrist to evaluate Schlemmer.

County police accuse Schlemmer of drowning her son, Luke, 3, and nearly drowning Daniel, 6, in a bathtub in their home on Saratoga Drive on Tuesday while her oldest son was at school.

Schlemmer told investigators that “crazy voices” told her she'd be a better mother to her oldest child if the other two “weren't around,” according to court records.

In response to a question from the judge, Assistant District Attorney Lisa Pellegrini said Daniel remains hospitalized in critical condition.

“It is my understanding the child is on life support with no brain activity,” she said.

Schlemmer seemed dazed and didn't speak to the judge during the brief appearance. She wore a black vest meant to keep her from tearing her clothes off.

Machen declined comment following the proceeding.

Schlemmer, a 1992 graduate of North Allegheny High School and a former teacher, worked at Dorseyville Middle School and Kerr Elementary School in the Fox Chapel Area School District from 1999 to 2004, a district spokeswoman said. She married Mark Schlemmer in a ceremony at Grove City College, her alma mater, on July 9, 2005. A marriage license says he was born in Abington in Montgomery County, and she was born in Morgantown, W.Va.

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