Loudoun County, Virginia authorities say 30-year old Isabel Sherr attempted to drown her 4-year-old boy and 19-month-old daughter last Thursday morning, then attempted to kill herself by jumping out a second floor window in of her Landsdowne home. Tuesday evening Sherr was charged with two counts of attempted capital murder.
Police were summoned to the house on April 21st around 10:30 a.m., when a neighbor heard the woman’s cries in the back yard. The neighbor who came to Sherr’s aid told authorities later that Sherr claimed to have drowned her two children. Police arrived shortly thereafter and broke into the locked door of the master bedroom, and found the two children soaking wet in the water-soaked bathroom. The 4-year-old was reportedly visibly upset.
The husband, a patent attorney, was overseas on business at the time of the incident. Because the husband had a demanding travel schedule the Sherr’s had a live-in nanny, who was in the basement living area of home at the time of the attempted murder. The nanny didn’t notice anything amiss until Sherr was heard screaming outside.
From all outward appearances Isabel Sherr had everything she needed to deal with raising her two children, even if she was overwhelmed by the task. One vexing question about the whole incident is how a well-to-do woman who had live in help – presumably because the task of frequently caring for the two children in the absence of the husband was too overwhelming – could be driven to infanticide?
We may never know what transpired inside that bathroom, but I think it’s safe to say that the 4-year old boy probably played a large part in saving his own life, and that of his baby sister, by fighting off his mother drowning attempts and/or repeatedly opening the tub drain.
What’s most haunting about this story is the prospect that Sherr, if convicted, would not be in prison (or mental institution) for more than a few years. How will that 4-year old child ever be able to look into the face of the mother that tried to murder him?
Note: This story has been gnawing at me for days, sapping my will to write about anything – perhaps because it hits so close to home. Loudoun County, Virginia may be the fastest growing area in the country, but it’s still small enough I’ve found no less than three personal connections to the tragic situation.