The mother accused of shooting her two sons inside of their Upper Makefield home is facing first degree murder charges after the boys passed away Friday, Bucks County prosecutors said Monday.
Police said 38-year-old Trinh Nguyen planned the murders for at least a week prior to the killings.
JT and Nelson, 13 and 9 years old, had been on life support after being shot in the head while in their beds on May 2. They died at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia on Friday.
Bucks County District Attorney Matt Weintraub said last week Nguyen’s charges would be upgraded once the boys, who weren’t expected to survive, had passed. On Monday, a judge decided Nguyen will face two counts of first degree murder, one count of attempted murder, possession of an instrument of crime and possession of a controlled substance, court documents show.
Nguyen has been in jail since last week when she was charged with attempted homicide. She was denied bail.
Only NBC10’s Deanna Durante was in the Bucks County courtroom Monday when new details about the crime were revealed. Investigators said they found heroin in Nguyen’s car and a note on the dashboard that read “Please call 911! My children are Dead in their bed” and listed the address of their home on Timber Ridge Road in Upper Makefield.
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The criminal complaint released to NBC10 Monday states Nguyen told a judge she went to New Jersey after the slayings to obtain narcotics which she ingested in an attempt to kill herself. She added that she had not used drugs in the past, the complaint said.
The document also said Nguyen left a signed, handwritten note inside the house dated April 25, 2022 stating what to do with her and her sons’ ashes.
Bucks County District Attorney Matthew Weintraub said at a news conference the boys’ organs would be donated.
Both children were in the Council Rock School District.
"We are deeply saddened to lose two of our Council Rock students and will miss them greatly," Susan Elliott, Acting Superintendent of Schools, said Saturday. "This tragic event has shocked our Council Rock community."
JT attended eighth grade at Newtown Middle School, and Nelson attended third grade at Sol Feinstone Elementary. Elliott said the team has placed several counselors at the schools the boys attended. The district says they also plan to have therapy dogs available for the children at both schools next week.
A memorial of flowers and teddy bears was placed outside one of the schools. United Methodist Church offered space for the community to find healing and prayer in the aftermath of the shooting.
On Monday, at 7:05 a.m., police said they responded to a home on Timber Ridge Road in Upper Makefield Township for a report of an armed person. When they arrived they were met by a 22-year-old man.
The man told police that his neighbor, Nguyen, spoke with him earlier that day. She handed him a box of photos and asked him to give the box to her ex-husband who he worked with, investigators said.
When the man turned around to face Nguyen, she allegedly pointed a black revolver at his face and pulled the trigger twice. The gun did not fire however, police said.
The man then wrapped Nguyen in a bear hug and disarmed her, according to investigators. Nguyen then fled the area in a white Toyota Sienna minivan. Officials issued a BOLO / wanted bulletin for her.
After being told that Nguyen had two children, ages 13 and 9, police and a neighbor searched through her home for them. They then found both boys suffering from gunshot wounds to their heads.
Several law enforcement agencies took part in a manhunt for Nguyen who was considered armed and dangerous. Later that morning, members of the United Methodist Church in Washington Crossing spotted Nguyen's van in the church parking lot.
“I came walking down to the church, down that end and I noticed a white van running over here which is very odd,” MaryAnne Heacks, a church member, told NBC10.
Heacks said she didn't think much of it until she received a call from her son, a police officer in Virginia. Her son then told her about the BOLO / wanted bulletin for Nguyen.
“He still follows the Upper Makefield Police Facebook page,” Heacks said. “He saw what happened and he texted me to say, you know, ‘Lock up. This is armed and dangerous, they’re saying.’"
Heacks then alerted Thomas Koveleski, another church member, about the van.
“And I noticed the van out there with the lights on,” Koveleski said. “At least at 8:30. MaryAnne calls me, ‘Hey, my son says you better do something about that van.’ So I called directly to the police department. I said, ‘I know you’re busy but I have a white van up here. Somebody in it. I don’t know what’s going on.’”
Police arrived at the church around 11:30 a.m. and found Nguyen inside the van.
“Once I saw rifles coming out, I’m like, ‘Oh my gosh.’ And then they all had their shields. And then they were just running from all directions,” Heacks said.
NBC10’s Deanna Durante was there as police took Nguyen into custody. The officers held shields as they approached her vehicle.
Investigators believe she was driving under the influence of drugs and she was taken to Saint Mary Medical Center.
A search warrant was executed on the minivan, and detectives located .38-caliber ammunition, several empty suspected heroin packages, several full suspected heroin packages, and swabs of suspected blood, among other evidence, according to Bucks County prosecutors.
Investigators have not yet determined a motive for the shooting.
NBC10 obtained documents showing Nguyen's ex-sister-in-law is the owner of the home where she lived. Records show Nguyen owed $11,000 in back rent. She had been ordered to be evicted from the property on Tuesday, the day after the shooting and arrest.
“God bless her,” Heacks said. “I pray for her because she’s going to have to live with that the rest of her life.”
If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic violence, contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline by calling 1-800-799-SAFE (7233), visiting www.thehotline.org or texting LOVEIS to 22522.