Lakewood homicide: Mother accused of murdering her two small children faces judge (2024)

LAKEWOOD - A 27-year-old Lakewood mother has been accused of murdering her two small children, stabbing one and drowning both, the Ocean County Prosecutor's Office announced.

Naomi Elkins was charged with two counts of murder, possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose and unlawful possession of a weapon, according to Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley D. Billhimer.

Elkins appeared virtually in Ocean County court before Judge Scott Basen Wednesday afternoon, from the county jail's medical facility. Her detention hearing is scheduled for July 1 and she is being represented by Mitch Ansell, a criminal defense attorney.

At 4:50 p.m. Tuesday, Lakewood police responded to report of two children in cardiac arrest at a home on Shenandoah Drive, the prosecutor's office announced. There they found Hatzolah Medical Services on the scene attempting to save the lives of the two children, ages 1 and 3. But their efforts fell short, and both children were pronounced dead at the scene.

Police investigated and concluded the 1-year-old child had been stabbed and both children were drowned, the prosecutor's office said. They concluded Elkins had murdered both her children and took her into custody without incident. She was taken to Ocean County Jail, and will remain there until a detention hearing.

Billhimer credited the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Major Crime Unit, Lakewood Township Police Department, Ocean County Sheriff’s Office Crime Scene Investigation Unit and Ocean County Medical Examiner’s Office for their work at the scene.

Multiple officers could be seen Tuesday night at the home at the northeast side of the intersection of Shenandoah Drive and Rockbridge Road. Crime scene tape could be seen along the entire corner, extending from the front of the house on Shenandoah to Rockbridge. A playground could be seen adjacent to the home.

Lakewood homicide: Mother accused of murdering her two small children faces judge (2)

Investigators could be seen coming and going through a rear side door, facing the intersection. They were seen removing a number of boxes and bags from the home and packing them into a Sheriff's Office vehicle.

All appeared quiet Wednesday morning at the house. By that point, no crime tape or law enforcement vehicles were present at the scene of the double homicide.

The residence sits in a neighborhood that holds larger houses, which appear to be home to families with children, many in the township's sizable Orthodox Jewish community. Toys and bikes can be seen scattered across many lawns in the development.

Lakewood homicide: Mother accused of murdering her two small children faces judge (3)

“It’s a horrible thing to know that something like that happened here," said Mayor Raymond Coles. "I always wait for the official information and stay out of the way. From what I know, it is the worst possible thing that can happen, anything involving children hurts and it makes it more powerful and sad.”

Coles said the local Orthodox community "are all still in shock and I do not want to insert myself. … From the second they found out about it, the support networks kick in. They do not have to worry about people being supportive.”

“Right now everyone’s in absolute and total shock," said Herschel Herskowitz, a local activist and longtime downtown merchant. "It brings back the story of Andrea Yates, with the five children," he said referring to the Houston woman who confessed in 2001 to drowning her five children in a bathtub. She was eventually found not guilty by reason of insanity and has remained in psychiatric hospitals ever since.

“Her family is well known in the community," Herskowitz said of Elkins. "As big as Lakewood gets, it is still a small town. When things like this happen, people go into their shell and don’t talk about it.”

“I think people are in shock, I don’t think our community has dealt with a tragedy of this magnitude," said Shlomo Schorr, a local resident and director of legislative affairs for Agudah Israel of New Jersey, a Jewish advocacy group. “What can be said?"

Rabbi Moshe Zev Weisberg, a spokesperson for the Lakewood Vaad, a group of local Orthodox activists and business owners, put out a statement saying, "’Ain milim’ is a simple Hebrew phrase meaning, ‘There are no words to describe’. The whole Jewish community in Lakewood — and way beyond — is still reeling from the tragic events that shook our collective essence to the core.

"The community reaches out with love and support to the families, neighbors, friends and even just casual acquaintances to be there be there for emotional support and counseling," Weisberg continued. "Our medical, counseling and social services agencies are gearing up to meet the community’s needs.

"Now begins the time for prayer, support and healing. May the souls of our dear departed children be blessed with the eternal radiance of the almighty as we pray for the healing and well-being of their family and the greater family of the Lakewood community."

Lakewood homicide: Mother accused of murdering her two small children faces judge (2024)
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