• Pastor: Husband supporting wife accused of drowning child


    McCANDLESS TOWNSHIP, Pa. - A pastor told Channel 11 on Wednesday that the husband of a McCandless woman accused of drowning one of her children and trying to drown another is supporting his wife. 

    Police said Laurel Michelle Schlemmer, 40, confessed to the drowning and attempted drowning of her children, ages 3 and 6.

    Schlemmer is facing homicide, attempted homicide, aggravated assault and other charges.

    Paramedics were called to Schlemmer's home on Saratoga Drive around 9:40 a.m. Tuesday.  Police said the children were found unresponsive in a bathtub.

    Neighbors told Channel 11, the children’s mother had just put her third child on the school bus before paramedics arrived.

    “I said hello to her and she seemed fine.  When the kids got on the bus, everybody waved as we always do,” said neighbor Jennie Leonard.

    Police said Schlemmer told them after putting her third child on a bus, she came back into the house and filled up the bathtub.  She instructed her two other children to take off their pajamas and get in the tub, police said.

    According to police, Schlemmer said she got into the tub fully clothed and “crazy voices” told her to push the children underwater.

    Police said Schlemmer sat on one of the children while they were underwater.

    Police said she told them she could be a better mother to her third child if the others weren’t around and that the two children would be better off in heaven.

    According to police, Schlemmer called 911.  Police said she didn’t attempt CPR because she didn’t know how to do it.

    The father of the children was at work when police said this happened.

    “Realities haven’t really dawned upon him yet, and the time for deep grieving is going to come, but probably not quite this soon,” said North Park Church Senior Pastor Dan Hendley.

    Hendley is the pastor at the church that the Schlemmers attend, and he was with the father at the police station Tuesday.

    “He was very anxious yesterday, wishing he could be with her just to hug her and tell her he loves her and to see how she was doing.  I know he is deeply concerned about Michelle and her well -being and would like to be able to minister personally to her," said Hendley.

    Hendley said the husband is supporting his wife, and the church is praying for the family.

    "We are doing everything we can to assist them at this time, and we invite those in the community to pray for this family that there will be some restoration and redemption out of an obviously tragic situation," he said.

    On Wednesday night, a special prayer service was held for the family. 

    The youngest child died at UPMC Passavant Hospital, police said.  The other child is at Children’s Hospital in critical condition.

    Flowers, candles and stuffed animals sit outside the Schlemmer family’s home.

    Northern Regional police confirm two children were rushed to the hospital last year after Schlemmer said she accidentally ran them over.  No charges were filed, but the district attorney plans to use that information as part of the investigation.

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