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McCandless Mother Denied Bail, On Suicide Watch

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – The McCandless mother of three who is charged with drowning and attempting to drown her two youngest sons was denied bail Thursday.

Laurel Michelle Schlemmer was denied bail at a brief hearing, during which she appeared a bit disheveled via video before Allegheny County Judge Jeffrey Manning.

KDKA's David Highfield Reports:

Responding to a question from the judge, prosecutor Lisa Pellegrini announced that the surviving child is on life support with no brain activity. Schlemmer is on suicide watch at Allegheny County Jail.

It was determined at the hearing that she will be evaluated by both county and private psychiatrists.

KDKA has learned that the Schlemmer family has hired a defense attorney Michael Machen. KDKA's David Highfield reached out to him Thursday evening, but so far he has not called back.

The 40-year-old is accused of drowning her 3-year-old son and nearly killing her 6-year-old son.

KDKA's Marty Griffin reports that sources say the hospitalized 6-year-old has Tourette Syndrome.

Schlemmer admitted to police she had tried to drown the two children at the Saratoga Drive home she shares with her husband and a third, 7-year-old son, saying voices told her to do it.

The oldest son was at school at the time of the incident.

KDKA's Harold Hayes Reports:

According to the criminal complaint, Schlemmer was fully clothed when she got in the tub with her sons.

She said "crazy voices" told her to push the boys under the water. At one point, she reportedly sat on top of them.

Once the boys were unresponsive, Schlemmer told police she pulled them out of the tub before changing into dry clothes and calling 911.

Schlemmer told police she thought she could be a better mother to her 7-year-old if the other two weren't around.

The children's father was at work at the time.

KDKA's Harold Hayes Reports:

It's already known that previous incidents determined to have been accidental are under review.

State officials want to know more about Schlemmer's past contact with Allegheny County's Office of Children, Youth and Families.

It was a year ago when Schlemmer brought two of her children to UPMC Passavant Hospital. She told doctors she accidentally ran over her sons.

The incident happened in Marshall Township last April 16 at Schlemmer's home. According to sources, Schlemmer "took the 2- and 5-year-old out of the car."

Schlemmer told investigators "she thought they entered the house."

Sources confirm she then "ran over both of the children backward until she saw them at the front-end of the vehicle."

KDKA's Marty Griffin Reports:

Schlemmer did not call police, and drove the kids to UPMC Passavant where they were transferred to Children's Hospital.

Doctors described injuries to one child as scrapes and bruises. The other child had a broken leg.

The state Department of Public Welfare confirms Allegheny County CYF workers were called to the hospital, determined the incident was an accident and did not open a case.

The state Department of Public Welfare is aware of the concerns of the public.

"They see us as the protector," said Kait Gillis, of the Department of Public Welfare. "We are just as devastated as anyone else that this horrible tragedy occurred. We will do everything we can to make sure it doesn't occur in the future."

As they re-open this case, they promise to get to the bottom of it.

"If it is found that there was abuse situations that occurred, there will be charges," said Gillis. "We will move forward with it. We are going through an investigation right now, the past history will be reviewed as well and if there were cases of abuse, the department will move forward."

KDKA's Marty Griffin Reports:

Doctor Offers Mental Health Perspective On Why Some Moms Harm Their Kids (4/2/14)
More Reports on the McCandless Tragedy
More Reports by Harold Hayes

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