In Nijvel a woman (40) killed her five children, then tried to commit suicide. Her situation is not life threatening. The murders took place in the family home, a large house in a good neighborhood, near the center of Nijvel, between 1-2:30pm.
The couple are a mixed marriage. The woman, Généviève Lhermitte, is Belgian and her husband is Moroccan. After getting married she converted to Islam.
The father (43), a salesman, was out of the country when the murders took place. At the end of January he went with his mother, who had been visiting for the New Year's, on a trip to Morocco.
He was informed at the airport of the tragedy and immediately headed home. He is being attend by psychologists.
The children: Medhi, Yasmine, Myriam, Nora and Mina were between four and fourteen. Earlier in the day they had been brought to school by their mother.
At about 1pm she delivered a letter to a friend who lives in the neighborhood where she wrote that she was in a hopeless situation. She mentioned there a drama, without giving further details.
She let the children watch TV, then called them one by one into another room where she slit their throats. she then laid them in bed. Only the oldest fought against her mother. The woman called the emergency services herself, then put out a note on the front door saying "Call the police".
The emergency services which responded are also getting psychological help.
The mother had been getting psychological treatment for depression for considerable time. The Public Prosecution concluded she was in an "extremely confused situation". The couple had matrimonial problems but there is currently no known reasons for her actions. First investigation shows that she felt isolated in her family.
The family moved to their current house in July, 2000. Neighbors say the family was social and well integrated. The mother was a housekeeper and the father was away for long periods due to his work, but the neighborhood did not notice any problem.
Jef Vermassen, A lawyer in the field of "family dramas" said that "there are two types: the first is the man who feels discriminated by a divorce. But the head category is the depressive mother who wants to commit suicide and then realizes: I still have children that I'm responsible for. She sees no other way out than to take her children with her to the death." He said this case was unique in that mothers usually don't choose such a violent way, but mostly kill their children with pills or suffocation.
The mother will be prosecuted for murder.
Sources: Telegraaf (Dutch), HLN (Dutch)