Cradling her young son in her arms, a despondent Maryland farmer's wife apparently walked into the Choptank River on Maryland's Eastern Shore during a heavy rainstorm on Tuesday, drowning both of them in what police have called a homicide and suicide.
The bodies of Judy Ann Steenken, 42, and her 2 1/2-year-old son Jeffrey Eric were found by a group of boaters three miles from where she is believed to have entered the water.
Relatives refused to talk about the deaths yesterday, but police investigators said Steenken, who lived outside of Preston, Md., was suffering from a "psychological illness" and had recently talked to relatives about drowning herself and her son in the Choptank.
Maryland State Trooper Roger Layton said Steenken left a suicide note at the farmhouse where she lived with several older children and husband Kenneth.
According to Layton and Maryland Department of Natural Resources police, about 1:15 p.m. she drove into the parking lot at the Dover Bridge, which carries Rte. 331 across the Choptank about nine miles west of Preston. The bridge keeper saw her sit in the car for about 15 minutes, and then get out and walk under the bridge.
Boaters found her body three miles upstream about 4 p.m. After learning that Steenken's son may have been with her, police joined the search and quickly found Jeffrey's body in the same area. Police said Steenken was close to her youngest child and took him wherever she went.