What to Know
- A Delaware mother is charged with murder after admitting to drowning her young children in the bathtub of their Wilmington row home.
- The 30-year-old is a Liberian immigrant who has been in the United States since 1997.
- The boys' father, Victor Epelle, is on probation for child endangerment stemming from a 2015 incident.
Victor Epelle still can’t believe both of his young sons are dead. They were killed earlier this month in Wilmington when his fiancée allegedly drowned them in a bathtub after fretting over her immigration status.
“That’s the last thing you think about,” Epelle said. “I still can’t believe it.”
Epelle buried 5-year-old Alex and 3-month-old Solomon on Tuesday. On Wednesday, he had to take several breaths before describing the pain he must now learn to live with.
“How can I anticipate her killing her own child? Her own child she gave birth to?” he said before trailing off.
Epelle's fiancée Kula Pelima, 30, emigrated from Liberia with her family when she was 10 years old, according to Delaware Online. She grew up in Ohio and moved to Philadelphia as an adult.
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Epelle, 38, met Pelima last year. He was attracted to her kindness and beauty, he told Delaware Online. She became pregnant with Solomon not long after the couple started dating and she became a guardian of Alex. They decided to move to Wilmington where the cost of living was cheaper.
But Epelle, who legally emigrated from Nigeria in 1997, was on probation at the time. He had been charged with child endangerment after Alex wandered out of the apartment while Epelle was running errands. The boy was found alone in the street. Epelle violated his probation by moving to Delaware and was entangled in legal proceedings when Pelima started to unravel.
Requests for temporary waivers that would allow Epelle to be with his family or even visit Delaware were denied. According to court services, the probation officer was following federal law. Epelle was ultimately arrested and detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) for a lapse in his immigration status.
On the day both boys died, Pelima called Immigration and Customs officials to see if her visa would be impacted by Epelle’s probation violation. Several hours later, she called police and allegedly admitted to drowning the boys, officials said. When first responders arrived, Pelima led police to their bodies.
Epelle told NBC10 his sons would still be alive if he had been allowed to visit them in Delaware during his probation. Pelima was an inexperienced mother and easily became overwhelmed, he said. Sometimes, she would feed her infant too late at night or too much.
“I knew that I needed to be there,” Epelle said. “I knew she could get stressed, but I never thought she could kill.”