A woman who forced her three children off the roof of their 15-story apartment building as she committed suicide had been depressed since her mother got out of prison, neighbors and relatives said.
Chicqua Roveal, 23, was a caring mother, but had been under stress since her mother moved in with the family, and her boyfriend broke up with her Saturday night, they said.
On Sunday, she said she didn’t want to live anymore and begged her mother to kill her, said her cousin, Michael Roveal.
The mother said her daughter told her, “‘You brang me in, so take me out,”’ Michael Roveal said.
Later that morning, Roveal dressed her three children in clean, warm clothing, marched them to the roof of the Edenwald Houses project and forced everyone over the ledge.
Chicqua Roveal and her son Andre, 7, died shortly after landing on a patch of grass. Her 2-year-old boy, Shando, and Andre’s twin, Andrea, were clinging to life Monday with critical injuries to their heads, chest and stomachs.
“Somehow their fall had to have been slowed or cushioned,” Dr. Lewis Singer, head of the pediatric intensive care unit at Montefiore Medical Center, said Monday.
Authorities believe Andrea may have landed on her twin after being forced off the roof, and that the mother may have jumped with her youngest child, who bounced off her body.
“The younger one is likely to survive,” Singer said. “The older one - it’s too soon to say.”
“It was a gesture of love, in my opinion,” said Melba Jennings, who lives directly across the hall from Roveal’s apartment.
Jennings said that she did not know why Roveal wanted to kill herself, but that once Roveal had made that decision, she may have felt that taking her children with her was an act of mercy.
“Abandonment was a big deal to her,” Jennings said. “She loved those kids - that’s one thing I’m sure of. Maybe she felt nobody would look after them the way she would.”
The children’s struggle to overcome their injuries was lonely. Their mother was their only guardian. The father of the boy called officials, but he lives out of state, they said. The girl’s father hadn’t been located.
Neighbor Darryl Johnson said Roveal “always used to tell us her mother was never there for her.” She hasn’t visited the surviving children, either, hospital officials said.
Roveal’s mother moved in with her daughter last month, neighbors said.
The change apparently strained Roveal’s relationship with her boyfriend, who neighbors said left the apartment Saturday after fighting with Roveal.