Mental issues cited in death of toddler
Thursday, December 2, 2010
Carmela Dela Rosa faced a series of personal and family stresses in the months leading up to charges that she threw her granddaughter from a 50-foot-high walkway at Tysons Corner Center, law enforcement officials and family friends said Wednesday.
Dela Rosa is charged with murder in the death of 2-year-old Angelyn Ogdoc, who plummeted to the pavement Monday night as her family crossed the walkway between the mall and a parking garage.
Police have said that Dela Rosa, who usually doted on her granddaughter, deliberately picked up the girl and tossed her over the walkway's guardrail. Dela Rosa's husband and daughter - Angelyn's mother - were walking nearby and witnessed the incident, law enforcement officials said.
Two law enforcement sources close to the investigation said that surveillance cameras recorded the incident but the video is not clear.
Dela Rosa also gave a statement to police when she was arrested Monday night. Neither the video nor Dela Rosa's statement has been released.
The tragic death appears to have come after months and perhaps years of emotional and mental concerns in Dela Rosa's life, although law enforcement officials said it is unclear whether any of them are linked directly to what happened to Angelyn. Officials also said no single event or altercation precipitated the incident.
Family friends said Dela Rosa was upset when her daughter became pregnant at a young age and then married Angelyn's father in 2008, when both were 20. A law enforcement source confirmed that Dela Rosa's unhappiness with her son-in-law had been brewing "for some time," and a family friend said that the two had at times not been on speaking terms.
Both Dela Rosa's daughter and son-in-law graduated from a private Catholic high school and went on to attend George Mason University.
Friends described them on Facebook as being excellent and caring parents.
Dela Rosa and her husband worked as part-time ushers at GMU's Patriot Center and were described as friendly and engaging employees. Neighbors on Ellenwood Drive said Dela Rosa was often seen caring for Angelyn and was the organizer of neighborhood barbecues and events.
Dela Rosa, who recently celebrated her 50th birthday, regularly baby-sat for Angelyn and appeared to be a doting and loving grandmother. But those close to her said she was having a difficult time.
A family friend and a family member, who spoke on condition of anonymity to protect their privacy, said that Dela Rosa left Fairfax for a few weeks in September to visit relatives in South Carolina because she was overly stressed and dealing with depression.
"She was nearing a nervous breakdown," the friend said.
Then last week, Dela Rosa's older brother died and was buried in the Philippines, and she was unable to make the trip to be with other family members there.
Both police and Dela Rosa's lawyer said her mental health could play a role in the case.
"We have just begun the investigation, and we are seriously investigating her mental health issues and the battles she's had with mental health over the last several years," said Dawn M. Butorac, deputy Fairfax County public defender.
After Angelyn died in the hospital at about 4:30 a.m. Tuesday, her grandmother was charged with murder, a decision that came after police and prosecutors determined that Dela Rosa had deliberately tossed Angelyn off the pedestrian walkway and meant to harm her, officials said.
They have said it did not appear to be in any way accidental. She and other family members remained at the scene as rescuers and police arrived.
Family members have remained silent this week, declining to comment and not answering the door at their homes in Fairfax County and Falls Church.
Fairfax County Commonwealth's Attorney Raymond F. Morrogh described the case as a "terrible situation."
"I reviewed the evidence and authorized the charges based on the evidence presented to me," Morrogh said. "It's a horrific fact pattern."
Staff writers Allison Klein and Ria Manglapus and staff researcher Magda Jean-Louis contributed to this report.