The mother killed in a double murder-suicide in New York City “devoted her entire career to advocating for women and girls,” according to her employer, who added that she will be remembered for “the thousands of lives she enriched – rather than the horrible way she died.”
New York City police responded to a Harlem home for a welfare check at around 9:20 p.m. Wednesday and found the bodies of a couple and their 5-year-old daughter, The New York Police Department told Fox News on Thursday.
Jennifer Schlecht, 42, and Abaynesh Schlecht Tedla, 5, were found dead with neck trauma in the apartment on 121st Street, according to investigators, who added that the mother’s body was found in a bathroom and the little girl was found in a bedroom.
The child’s father, 46-year-old Yonathan Tedla, was found dead in another bedroom.
Law enforcement sources told Fox News Tedla apparently hung himself from a door after slashing the throats of his wife and daughter. The 5-year old was partially decapitated and Schlecht was decapitated, sources said.
It was not immediately clear how long the three had been dead.
Police sources told Fox News that the couple was going through a divorce and that they had been scheduled to appear in court on the day their remains were discovered.
Distressed relatives called 911 and asked police to conduct the welfare check.
Schlecht, who worked for the United Nations Foundation, had reportedly called her parents on Sunday, expressing fear for her and her child’s safety.
“She was in tears, a basket case,” Jennifer Schlecht’s father Kenneth told The New York Times. “She didn’t know if he would carry on with the threats.”
Tedla was often seen smiling while carrying his daughter on his shoulders, according to neighbors.
Schlecht worked for the United Nations Foundation’s Family Planning 2020 project, which said she had worked in international relief and development, including specialized work in reproductive health and child marriage.
“Today, we remember our colleague, Jennifer Schlecht. Jennifer devoted her entire career to advocating for women and girls. We will all remember her for her life – and the thousands of lives she enriched – rather than the horrible way she died,” the organization tweeted.
“In addition to being an adoring mother, her [Schlecht’s] contribution to the lives of women and girls who are living in crisis situations has been extraordinary,” Beth Schlachter, Family Planning 2020’s executive director, said in a statement. “That she should die under such brutal circumstances is beyond understanding … We are utterly devastated.”
Police said there was no known history of domestic abuse.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.