German Prosecutors to Charge Mom With Murder of 5 Children

September 4, 2020 Updated: September 4, 2020

BERLIN—German prosecutors said Friday they will charge a 27-year-old woman with murder after five of her young children were found dead at their home in the western city of Solingen.

Heribert Kaune-Gebhardt, a prosecutor in nearby Wuppertal, told reporters that postmortem examinations on the dead children showed signs of sedation and suffocation, but it was still unclear how exactly they had died.

Germany children murder
A Teddy bear and candles are set in front of an apartment building, where five dead children were found in Solingen, Germany, on Sept. 4, 2020. (Martin Meissner/AP Photo)

The mother, who sent her eldest son to stay with his grandmother Thursday before attempting to take her own life by jumping in front of a train, hasn’t been questioned by police yet, officials said.

The killings have caused widespread shock in Germany.

Wuppertal police said the children’s grandmother had alerted authorities about a possible crime shortly before 2 p.m. (1200 GMT) Thursday. Officers who arrived at the family’s home within minutes forced open the door and found three girls, ages 1, 2 and 3, and two boys, 6 and 8, dead in their beds.

Germany children murder
People bring flowers and candles to an apartment building, where five dead children were found in Solingen, Germany, on Sept. 4, 2020. (Martin Meissner/AP Photo)

There were no signs of physical violence, said Marcel Maierhofer of the Wuppertal police force.

Investigators have so far determined that the woman’s 11-year-old son left for school as usual on Thursday morning. His mother later picked him up from school and told him to go to his grandmother, Maierhofer said.

The suspect also sent her mother a message stating that she “couldn’t go on” and cited marital problems with the father of her four youngest children.

“We can only speculate that the motive was the fraught marriage,” Maierhofer said.