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S1 / EP13: Krim Family Murders: Yoselyn Ortega

Updated: Feb 6

When I was prepping to do this case, I already knew the story...I recall when it hit the news and I thought, this can't be real? I remember seeing photos of Marina Krim's anguished face as she was driving away in an ambulance. The terror, the heartache, the utter devastation on her face - I'll never forget it.

There is evil in this world, and it comes in many forms, but no one would ever imagine that it would come from someone who was hired to care for your children.

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Transcribed Episode / EP13: Krim Family Murders: Yoselyn Ortega


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[Intro Music Begins / Fades]


Kevin Krim met Marina Linsley at an Italian restaurant in Venice Beach California. Both California natives, Marina lived in Manhattan Beach California, an oceanfront community about 30 miles southwest of downtown Los Angeles, and Kevin was from Thousand Oaks California, a large suburb of Ventura County that lies about 40 miles west of Los Angeles.

Marina had studied at the University of Southern California and Kevin had finished his education at Harvard University. At the time he met Marina, he was working at McKinsey and Company, a consulting firm, in Los Angeles. Kevin and Marina married in 2003 and by 2006 they had their first child Lucia or as they liked to call her “Lulu.” Three years later they had another girl, Nessie, and in 2010 they had their third child, a son, Leo. Following his employment with McKinsey and Company, Kevin obtained jobs with both Yahoo and Bloomberg, and eventually landed a digital content executive position at the television network CNBC, which ultimately moved the family to San Francisco California. According to her LinkedIn profile, Marina had worked for a wholesaler of powders made from exotic fruits, like acai berries and pomegranates, but had decided to become a stay at home mother to spend more time with the children.

The Krims were doing well financially and their family was growing...when they had the two girls and Marina was pregnant with Leo, the Krims moved to New York in 2010 due to Kevin’s job. They chose to move to The La Rochelle apartments, a historic 11-story late 19th century building located at 57 West 75th Street and Columbus Avenue in Manhattan's Upper West Side. The apartments are in a desirable neighborhood about ⅓ of a mile from Central Park. As we know, rent in New York can be extremely high, and Manhattan’s upper west side is certainly no exception. Current day rent for the apartments ranges from about $3,000 all the way up to $18,000 a month. The Krims were in apartment #2FG, a 3 bedroom apartment located two floors above the lobby. The building’s superintendent, Michael Minahan lived in the apartment directly underneath the Krims on the 1st floor.

The Krims kept busy in New York, with Kevin having to travel often for his job, and Marina taking care of the two, soon to be three, children. She would teach weekly art classes to children at the Museum of Natural History’s “Hippo Playground Parkhouse”, and enjoyed maintaining an online family blog titled “Life with the Little Krim Kids.” In the blog, which is still available online, she would document various activities that they would experience with the children: trips to pick apples, visits to pumpkin patches and playdates, and trips to ballet recitals. She would post photos showing the children playing together, on their first days of school or just lying on the sofa. Lulu had been discovered by a talent agent and had done some modeling as an infant in California and the Krims would save the fees earned and put them towards the children’s college fund.

As the Krim’s had their third child on the way, and with Kevin working 12 hour days and having to travel often, he suggested to Marina that they look at hiring a nanny to assist her with their children. It would give her the chance to spend more time with the children, and also allow her to take them to their practices and classes. Juggling the two children while Kevin was away was challenging, and although Marina was a present, hands-on mother, she welcomed the idea of help, especially with their third child on the way.

While visibly pregnant Marina was at Lulu’s ballet class with Nessie one day in 2010, a woman named Celia Ortega approached her. Celia Ortega worked as a nanny for another family in the same neighborhood as the Krims. Celia told her that she noticed she was due with another child soon, and that she knew someone who could help her with childcare, her sister, Yoselyn Ortega. She said Yoselyn had been a nanny previously and was great with kids and could definitely help out.

Following this encounter, The Krim’s soon received a detailed letter of recommendation for Yoselyn Ortega from Yoselyn’s niece, Jackie Severino Vargas. Jackie sent the email letter from a professional legitimate email address. In the letter, Ms. Vargas, wrote a glowing review of Yoselyn and the experience she’d had previously with children. She answered all of the Krim’s questions perfectly. The Krims would come to find out, however, that this entire letter was false. Ms. Vargas, who was childless, made up the entire reference in order to get her aunt employment. Not knowing that they were being conned, the Krims interviewed Yoselyn in mid to late Spring 2010 and hired her, about six months after moving to New York, to help care for their three children.

Yoselyn was hired on a part-time basis, and the Krims had her working about 25 hours a week. She did not live with the Krims, and worked mostly in the afternoons when the children got out of school and needed to attend activities. The Krims paid her $18 an hour.

Yoselyn Ortega was born in 1962 and was from Santiago de los Caballeros, a city in the Dominican Republic. She was the 2nd youngest of 8 siblings and had been a naturalized United States citizen for 8 years when she met the Krims. In 1985 she graduated from a local university with an accounting degree, and subsequently moved to New York City, where her sister was living. She found work at a printing company and in 1995 she married and had one son, Jesus Alberto Frias. Four years later she divorced her husband and took Jesus back to the Dominican Republic. She gave her four year old son to her older sister Miladys Garcia to raise, while she made her way back to the United States to look for work. According to her family, in 2006 and 2007 she cared for her nephews 6 children for 3-4 months - this was the only childcare work that she would ever do prior to the Krims. She was 48 years old when she was hired by Kevin and Marina. Yoselyn never used drugs or alcohol and had no criminal history.

Yoselyn would try to visit her son at least 3-4 times a year and called him every day. In 2008 she went back to the Dominican Republic and stayed to care for her son for several months while her older sister Miladys Garcia, went to the United States. In April of that year, a friend of Yoselyn’s shot himself in the head and Jesus would state that his mother would become paranoid following this event...often not letting him go to baseball practice, or hiding him underneath the bed every time a dog barked. Her sister ultimately came back to the Dominican Republic to care for Jesus, and Yoselyn returned to New York that August. She worked in factories and as a cleaning lady before beginning her job with the Krims just a year and half later.

In the summer of 2012 Jesus Frias moved to New York to finish high school and apply to college in the United States. This was the first time Jesus had lived in the United States and the first time Yoselin was 100% responsible for his care, so the stress and anxiety immediately started to mount upon his arrival. She enrolled him in a private high school so that he wouldn’t have to repeat the 11th grade and of course, had to pay private school tuition. On top of rent and other bills, she now had to pay tuition and the general cost of supporting a 17 year old son.

Since working for the Krims, Yoselyn had been able to relocate to an apartment in the Bronx neighborhood of New York. She told neighbor Maria Lajara how excited she was to move, that she loved working for the Krims and that they paid and treated her well. She also said that she was fond of Marina Krim, said she was a good person and that she would put in extra hours to help her.

After she moved to the Bronx she still kept in touch with Maria, asking her to pray that a woman would pay her for makeup she had sold to her. The women owed Yoselyn about $100. According to Yoselyn’s neighbor Ana Bonet, aside from doing the nanny job for the Krims, Yoselyn had been selling inexpensive makeup and jewelry in her apartment complex as well as cooking rice and other dishes for parties in order to make additional money. Neighbors stated that Yoselyn would leave the apartment building early, around 5:30 or 6am and not return for about 12 hours.

Yoselyn had been living in the Bronx in an apartment that she subleased from an acquaintance from the Dominican Republic. She was told by the landlord that the owner of the apartment was coming back to New York and she needed to vacate the apartment. She was distraught, and asked her sister if she and Jesus could move in with her and her sister’s daughter into their apartment on 610 Riverside Drive in the Hamilton Heights neighborhood of Harlem in New York.

Neighbors of the Riverside Drive building recalled that Yoselyn’s sister had told them that Yoselyn hadn’t been feeling well, that her sister felt like she was “losing her mind.” Other neighbors noticed that Yoselyn had seemed nervous or tired, and one neighbor Kenia Galo said that when she mentioned to Yoselyn that she didn’t look well, she said “I am”

Although the Krims were paying Yoselyn for part-time work, they were also generous in many other ways and had a seemingly good relationship. Marina had gifted Yoselyn a leather Ann Taylor Jacket once, and the Krims also would purchase plane tickets for Yoselyn to take trips back home to the Dominican Republic to visit her family. In February 2012 they also made a nine-day trip with her to the island so that they could meet her family, and so Marina and Kevin’s bilingual children could practice Spanish. The children would call Yoselyn “Josie” and Lulu gave Jesus Frias a new ipad as a gift from the Krims.

In the year 2012, after Yoselyn had been working for the Krim’s for 2 years, things seemed to begin to unravel. The Krims were having issues with Yoselyn’s work performance and had told her that if she didn’t improve that they would need to replace her. Yoselyn had told the Krims that she was having issues financially since Jesus arrived in the states, and to help rectify this, Marina had offered her to do additional housecleaning about 5 hours a week to make some extra money. This offer infuriated Yoselyn - she was a nanny, not a housekeeper! She had even damaged her hands while using a cleaning product in the course of doing some minor housework for Marina!

On October 22, 2012 Yoselyn made an appointment to see a psychologist. During the 45 minute appointment with Dr. Thomas Caffrey, Yoselyn talked about her recent stress and anxiety, her relationship with her son and her feelings of failure that went along with caring for him. She did NOT mention anything related to hearing voices or the devil talking to her - yeah, you heard that right….we’ll come back to that later on) - but told the Dr. Caffrey that she was overwhelmed by her current situation, financial situation and family obligations.

After their session, it seemed to Dr. Caffrey that Yoselyn had gotten the worst of it off of her chest and felt better. Dr. Caffrey noted and testified that she did not appear suicidal or murderous and that there was no evidence she suffered from delusions or hallucinations. He suggested that she make another appointment, but she didn’t follow through. This appointment was the only contact that Yoselyn had with a mental health professional in more than 30 years.

Three days later, on Thursday October 25, 2012, it was scheduled to be a typical day of running the Krim children around to their daily activities and coordinating pickups and drop offs with Marina Krim. Yoselyn arrived at the Krim’s apartment at 3pm. That day she was asked to take now 2 year old Leo with her to pick up 6 year old Lulu from Kindergarten and walk her to ballet class that afternoon, and then return home to put Leo down for a nap. During that time, Marina would be with Nessie at her swim lesson at the YMCA, and she would then pick Lulu up at Ballet on head home with the two girls at around 5:30pm.

Yoselyn did as Marina asked and headed out. She put Leo in a stroller and picked up Lulu at school, but instead of taking her to ballet class as instructed, she headed back to the Krim’s apartment and entered the building just before 4pm. A CCTV camera picked up Yoselyn walking down the street with the two children.

Just a few blocks Nessie was finishing up her swim lesson while her mom waited for her. Once the lesson was over, Marina and Nessie headed to pick up Lulu at the dance studio. When Marina and Nessie got to the studio around 5pm, Lulu wasn’t there. Marina thought maybe Yoselyn got caught up in something, so she tried to text her at 5:04pm asking “Where’s Lulu?” No response. Then a follow up text in spanish “Where are You?” response. 16 minutes later Marina texted her in English again…”Where are you?” No response. This was unusual for Yoselyn - she always responded and was always reliable. Something was very wrong...Marina hurriedly rushed out and headed to her apartment building.

As Yoselyn walked into the La Rochelle apartment building, she spoke to the doorman, Thomas Brown, and asked him “is the mom upstairs?” This was strange, because the doorman knew who the nanny was, but she had never spoken with him before. Thomas responded and told her that Marina had left. Yoselyn got into the elevator and headed to the 2nd floor. Charlotte Friedman, a neighbor who lives on the seventh floor of the building, also got into the elevator with the nanny and the two children. She recalled that the two children were playing around and that the little girl looked so happy. Charlotte asked her if she was going on a play date or something and said she was going home. Charlotte asked her “What did you do," and she said, "Dancing." She said everything with the nanny seemed normal, but that Yoselyn did not say a word to her, just smiled and walked out of the elevator. Charlotte had encountered Yoselyn before and stated to authorities that she “never saw her as a warm nanny.” Yoselyn exited the elevator with the children on the 2nd floor.

It was around 5:20pm when Marina walked into the 11 story building and headed up to her apartment. She opened the door and immediately noticed it was dark, as if no one was there. It was also very quiet - too quiet. She quickly glanced around, didn’t see anyone but spotted Leo’s stroller and Lulu’s ballet bag. She texted Yoselyn again, “Where are you?” No answer. After not receiving a response and it seeming that the apartment was empty - Marina headed to the landing outside her apartment and yelled down to the doorman asking him if she’d seen the nanny or her children. The doorman answered her that he hadn’t seen them, that Yoselyn had not left with the children since she had returned with them earlier that day. So Marina headed back into the apartment….

This time, when she entered the apartment she walked into the apartment towards the back rooms. She noticed that the light in the bathroom down the hall was on, but the door was shut. The bathroom was the furthest room from the front door of the apartment. She called out for Lulu and Leo. She walked to the door with Nessie still in her arms, and opened it. She initially could not comprehend the horrifying scene in front of her. Her two children, 6 year old Lulu and 2 year old Leo, were both clothed and inside of the tub. They were soaked in blood and motionless. Marina knew her children were dead as Lulu’s eyes were fixed. Yoselyn Ortega was standing in the bathroom staring at Marina with bulging eyes, holding a large kitchen knife in her hand. When she saw that Marina had seen her children, she jabbed the knife into her own neck and throat multiple times.

Marina testified in court and was able to describe what she saw that day, and I quote:

“It’s like a total horror movie. I walk down the hall, and I see the light on under the door. I see Lulu, I knew that she was dead, she’s lying in the bathtub and her eyes were open. I see Leo next to her. They had blood on them. Then I see the defendant, blood all over her and eyes bugging out. All I remember saying to her is “I hate you!”

She remembered screaming and described it as "It was a scream you can't imagine is even inside of you, I don't even know where it came from. I just thought: I'm never going to be able to talk to them ever again. They are dead. I just saw my kids dead. I go down, I walk down the hall and I see the light on under the back of the door, and I'm like, 'Oh God it's so quiet in here, oh God. Why is it so ... quiet? And I open the door……....and I open the door, oh God!"

After seeing what Yoselyn had done to her children, Marina ran out of the apartment, screaming. She collapsed on the landing, wailing and screaming that her children were dead. Building superintendent Michael Minahan, who lived directly underneath the Krims, had been in his first floor apartment when he heard the screams coming from the floor above him shouting “They’re dead, they’re dead!” He went upstairs and into the Krim’s apartment. He went to the back bathroom and as soon as he opened the door, Yoselyn turned and looked right at him. She had been standing facing the bathroom mirror, covered in blood, holding a cloth to her bleeding throat. He recalled the grim scene in his court testimony: “I could see the tub and I could see, I would say, bodies or clothing or something” “I could see blood. I did my best not to take my eyes off Miss Ortega.” “I saw red.” He described her as having the “eyes of the devil.” He quickly ran to the front door of the apartment and held it shut with both hands. He called down to have the police sent up to the apartment.

Doorman Glen Loby immediately called 911. In the 911 call, Marina’s incoherent screams could be heard in the background as she held Nessie. Neighbors who had heard the commotion and Marina’s screams also called 911.

Marina attempted to call Kevin, but he didn’t pick up his phone - he was on a business trip from San Francisco California and was currently on a plane arriving back into John F Kennedy International Airport in New York - she left him a voicemail message, but all she was able to do was scream.

When NYPD officers Salvatore Provenzano and Bradley Gore arrived at the apartment building, they were escorted to the 2nd floor apartment where Michael Minahan told them ‘Whatever is behind that door is pure evil.’ By the time the officers got to the bathroom, Yoselyn Ortega was lying on the floor. She had a bloody knife by her side and a second knife was in the blood-covered sink. Officer Gore stepped over Yoselyn as she was moaning, and still had signs of life. Gore then checked the children - no signs of life. Officer Provenzano handed him a camera to preserve the scene.

Neighbor Rima Starr, 63 years old, recalled hearing Marina after she had discovered her children, quote: “I heard blood curdling screams and I went down to the lobby and there was the mother screaming, hunched over the three year old. At times she was screaming things like: ‘I'll never speak to her again,’ repeating that over and over again, then ‘it's all right, you'll be alright, you'll be alright’ to the child. Then she would get waves of the reality of what just happened and then she'd go into just plain blood curdling screams with her arms flailing out to the sides.”

When paramedics arrived, the children did not have a pulse and Leo’s body was already cold. CPR and chest compressions were attempted on the children, as is procedure, but the children had lost too much blood. The children were removed from the apartment building on a single adult stretcher. They were both pronounced dead upon arrival to the St Luke’s Hospital in New York.

Paramedic Kevin Orr recalled the scene, saying that it was, quote "The bloodiest I’ve ever seen.” and Paramedic Eugene Nickolas said that it was quote “The worst I’ve ever seen, other than 911.”

Marina was escorted out of the building by authorities, holding Nessie in her arms and shielded by a white towel. She was transferred in a separate ambulance to the same hospital as the children. Upon arrival at the hospital, she was sedated.

Yoselyn was taken to the New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill (“while”) Cornell Medical Center where she was admitted in stable but critical condition. She had fractured a vertebrate in the process of stabbing herself in the neck and was placed in a medically induced coma.

As Kevin Krim’s plane was landing, his phone lit up with multiple text messages and voicemails. Authorities were waiting for the plane when it arrived, and before anyone was allowed to exit the plane, NYPD said they needed one passenger to exit first - Kevin Krim.

Texts and voicemails were asking him if he was alright. He listened to Marina’s voicemail and all he could hear was her screams. His phone was his brother in law, telling him that something happened to his children. When he exited the plan he collapsed. Two officers helped him up and he can’t recall if he walked out of the airport or if he was carried out. He was taken to St. Luke’s Roosevelt Hospital where he was told Lulu and Leo were dead and that their nanny, Yoselyn Ortega, had murdered them.

When Kevin got to the hospital he saw Marina and she fell into his arms, sobbing. Kevin told the doctors that he wanted to see his children. He and Marina entered a small examination room where the two children were placed on gurneys. The hospital nurses had cleaned their bodies the best they could and wrapped them in sheets up to their chins. Kevin described them as: “they were beautiful and strange,” he said. “They were the wrong color. They didn’t have any blood left in them so they were bluish, but they had this perfect skin and their long eyela