The young mother who killed her two children on January 1 rather than see them return to care has committed suicide in prison, the Zurich cantonal authorities confirmed on Saturday.
The 27-year-old woman, known as Nathalie K., from Flaach in canton Zurich strangled herself in her prison cell on Friday after her midday meal, the authorities declared at a press conference on Saturday.
The woman, who was receiving psychiatric support, was found dead two hours after her meal when prison staff went to fetch her for her outdoor exercise.
She left behind a letter but the contents were not disclosed. The Zurich prosecutor’s office has opened an enquiry, the results of which will be communicated at a later date, said Jacqueline Fehr, Zurich’s justice minister.
Nathalie K. killed her children – a five-year-old boy and his two-year-old sister - on the evening of January 1, while they were at home for a two-week Christmas visit. Earlier that day she had received the news from her lawyer that an appeal to have the children returned to her care pending a definitive decision about their welfare had been rejected.
The children were initially taken into care on November 4 when their parents were arrested on suspicion of fraud. Nathalie K. was released without charge within a week. The authorities said there had been separate reports of concerns about the children’s welfare.
Nathalie K. informed the police herself of the tragedy. The father was in prison at the time of the incident.
The case generated considerable public reaction, with criticism of the recently reformed child protection authority. The Swiss child protection system underwent large-scale reform two years ago when decision making in child welfare cases, which used to take place on a local level, was transferred to a more professionally-based structure at cantonal level.
swissinfo.ch with agencies