Mother of Drowned Toddler Charged With Murder, Attempted Murder

KTLA News 5:25 p.m. PST, February 16, 2012

SOUTH LOS ANGELES (KTLA) -- A South Los Angeles mother accused of using a baby bathtub to try to drown her two young daughters has been charged with murder and attempted murder.

Authorities say Lorna Valle drowned her one-year-old daughter, Lindsay Stephanie Taque-Valle, and also attempted to drown her 5-year-old daughter, Marian, by shoving their faces into the small tub, said Deputy Police Chief Pat Gannon.

Marian remains hospitalized at Children's Hospital Los Angeles. She has been upgraded to serious but stable condition from critical condition.

Valle, who may have a history of mental illness, is currently on a three-day psychiatric hold at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center.

"We believe she is responsible for what happened to these two children," LAPD Cmdr. Andy Smith said.

It happened around 7:30 a.m. Wednesday in the 900 block of W. 50th Street.

The father came home from the grocery store to find his wife trying to drown the girls, police said.

A neighbor told KTLA that when the father returned, he heard shouts of "My babies! My babies!"

Dina Ceballos, who lived across the street, told the Los Angeles Times that she heard the father say, "If I didn't get out, my girls would still be alive."

"He was screaming and saying, 'Why didn't she kill herself instead of trying to kill my girls?'" Ceballos said.

The girls were found in the bathroom of a small converted garage where the family lived, Smith said.

He said the children were "not conscious and not breathing when the fire department arrived."

Neighbors who witnessed the aftermath told KTLA the toddler was purple and "in really bad shape."

They also said they saw Valle with a look they'll never forget: "Blank face," one woman said. "She wasn't saying nothing. No expression, no crying, no nothing."

Both girls were rushed to California Hospital, where one-year-old Lindsay was pronounced dead.

The family is from Guatemala, according to a neighbor. They moved to South L.A. about ten years ago, then had the two girls.

They were living in a converted garage behind a house.

She said the family was nice and hard-working, and the girls often played in the yard.

But, she added, the mother appeared to be depressed and possibly suicidal recently.

"A neighbor said she told her that if anything happens to her, she would leave the girls to the father or to them," she said.

"She was asking for psychological help and she didn't receive it. It's a sad story. It's a sad ending. She needs help," the neighbor said.

A family cousin, Luis Padillas, told KTLA that Valle had sought professional help, but did not get it.

He said she was an illegal alien and wanted to go back home. Valle was very depressed, according to Padillas.

He said they took her to the hospital, but she was not treated because she had no papers.

"We need a lawyer that can represent us because of the negligence of the hospital," he said in Spanish.

Padillas did not specify which hospital or the date Valle went seeking treatment.

The investigation is ongoing.

Pictures of the children and video is the link.