When they arrived at the Lansdowne home, Loudoun County sheriff's deputies found a 30-year-old woman bleeding and bruised on the pavement in the back yard where she either jumped or fell out a second-story window. Upstairs, alone in a bathtub, were her two young children, who doctors later determined had suffered, too.
"They found evidence that would have them believe there were complications from an alleged attempted drowning," said Sheriff Stephen O. Simpson.
The mother and children, who were not identified, were listed in stable condition at hospitals yesterday. What happened inside the home Thursday remained a mystery. No charges have been filed, and the investigation is continuing.
The woman's husband, who was out of the country on business, was on his way home, Simpson said.
Receiving a frantic 911 call that a woman was covered in blood and that two young children had possibly drowned was enough to shake the most seasoned of deputies, Simpson said.
"It was the kind of call that gives you cold chills," Simpson said. "You plan for the worst and hope for the best."
When deputies arrived at the home in the 43700 block of Red House Drive, they were relieved to find the mother and her children alive, Simpson said. They were summoned about 10:30 a.m., when a neighbor heard the woman's cries in the back yard, he said.
After speaking with the injured woman, the neighbor had reason to believe that the 19-month-old girl and 4-year-old boy had been drowned in the home, Simpson said.
Just as the neighbor managed to break a windowpane and open the front door of the dwelling, a deputy arrived, made his way upstairs and knocked down a locked master bedroom door to find the children.
"He forced the door open, went inside and found the children in the master bathroom in the bathtub," Simpson said.
Clad in bathing suits, they were soaking wet and sitting in a drained bathtub. The floor was also wet, as though the tub had recently overflowed, Simpson said.
"The 4-year-old was very upset," Simpson said. "The 19-month-old was sitting quietly."
Deputies believe the mother opened a window in the bathroom, stood on the ledge and either jumped or fell, Simpson said.
A nanny who lives in the basement of the home told authorities she heard nothing to make her think there was trouble.
Neighbor Jennifer Lisle, 36, said she did not notice anything out of the ordinary. When deputies cordoned off the street, Lisle, who has two young children, became concerned that someone had been killed.
When she learned what happened, she said she was saddened.
"My heart, without judgment, goes out to this person, because I can't imagine getting to that point," Lisle said.
Kraig Troxell, a spokesman for the sheriff's office, said the results of the investigation will be turned over to the commonwealth's attorney's office for review.