Tenia Campbell a Long Island mother accused of killing her 2-year-old twin daughters was arraigned on two counts of first-degree murder and two counts of second-degree murder. Tenia Campbell, 24, of Medford, allegedly killed 2-year-old twins Jasmine and Jaida Campbell on June 27, and her mother said in a written statement to police that her daughter admitted killing the girls “with (her) bare hands.”
On Wednesday, an attorney for Campbell entered a not guilty plea on her behalf. “This is a horrific tragedy, obviously my client’s mental disorder is going to be the subject of my defense,” defense attorney John Halverson said. The judge agreed to a psychiatric evaluation while Campbell remains in jail on suicide watch.
“This is an extremely tragic case,” Suffolk County District Attorney Tim Sini said. “Especially as a parent, the alleged actions of this defendant are incomprehensible. While nothing can bring those girls back, we will seek justice on their behalf.” Authorities say that at approximately 2:30 p.m. on June 27, police received a 911 call from Campbell’s mother, Vanessa McQueen, stating that the defendant was threatening to kill herself and her daughters.
Following the call, the Suffolk County Police Department, New York State Police, Suffolk County Park Rangers, Southampton Town Police and East Hampton Town Police began a county-wide search for Campbell. At approximately 4:05 p.m., East Hampton Town Police officers located Campbell and her two daughters in a vehicle at the entrance of the Montauk County Park Third House Nature Center.
Campbell allegedly stated to police that she had killed the children. The officers took Campbell into custody and attempted life-saving efforts on her two children, who were taken to Stony Brook Southampton Hospital and pronounced dead. An autopsy conducted by the Office of the Suffolk County Medical Examiner on the two victims determined the cause of death to be homicidal violence consistent with manual asphyxia.
“She kept saying she was sorry, but she didn’t want to live anymore,” McQueen wrote in her statement to police, saying her daughter was hysterically crying. McQueen wrote that Campbell said that she would kill herself and her daughters, and while keeping Campbell on the phone, McQueen called 911 for help.
As the 911 operator listened, McQueen asked Campbell about the girls. “They are already dead,” McQueen wrote Campbell told her. “I killed them with my bare hands.” Campbell was remanded without bail and due back in court on August 7. If convicted, she faces a maximum sentence of life in prison without parole.