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Desperate Housewife Attempts Drowning, Suicide

Loudoun County, Virginia authorities say 30-year old Isabel Sherr attempted to drown her 4-year-old boy and 19-month-old daughter last Thursday morning, then attempted to kill herself by jumping out a second floor window in of her Landsdowne home. Tuesday evening Sherr was charged with two counts of attempted capital murder.

Police were summoned to the house on April 21st around 10:30 a.m., when a neighbor heard the woman's cries in the back yard. The neighbor who came to Sherr's aid told authorities later that Sherr claimed to have drowned her two children. Police arrived shortly thereafter and broke into the locked door of the master bedroom, and found the two children soaking wet in the water-soaked bathroom. The 4-year-old was reportedly visibly upset.

The husband, a patent attorney, was overseas on business at the time of the incident. Because the husband had a demanding travel schedule the Sherr's had a live-in nanny, who was in the basement living area of home at the time of the attempted murder. The nanny didn't notice anything amiss until Sherr was heard screaming outside.

From all outward appearances Isabel Sherr had everything she needed to deal with raising her two children, even if she was overwhelmed by the task. One vexing question about the whole incident is how a well-to-do woman who had live in help - presumably because the task of frequently caring for the two children in the absence of the husband was too overwhelming - could be driven to infanticide?

We may never know what transpired inside that bathroom, but I think it's safe to say that the 4-year old boy probably played a large part in saving his own life, and that of his baby sister, by fighting off his mother drowning attempts and/or repeatedly opening the tub drain.

What's most haunting about this story is the prospect that Sherr, if convicted, would not be in prison (or mental institution) for more than a few years. How will that 4-year old child ever be able to look into the face of the mother that tried to murder him?

Note: This story has been gnawing at me for days, sapping my will to write about anything - perhaps because it hits so close to home. Loudoun County, Virginia may be the fastest growing area in the country, but it's still small enough I've found no less than three personal connections to the tragic situation.


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Comments (18)

I sure as hell hope he neve... (Below threshold)

I sure as hell hope he never has to look into the face of the mother that tried to murder him.

Happy mother's day!... (Below threshold)

Happy mother's day!

That is just awful. ... (Below threshold)

That is just awful.

Get ready for the waves of ... (Below threshold)

Get ready for the waves of female apoligists, the post-partum pop pyschology, and the eventually blaming of the husband for whatever role he took that obviously drove the poor woman mad. Regardless of the true circumstances, you know that's going to happen.

I am slowly coming to the c... (Below threshold)

I am slowly coming to the conclusion that some people are so mentally frail they cannot function in society. They might be some of the physically strongest and brightest people on the planet, but for some reason their mental fortitude resides around the range of a grumpy two year old.

In this case, jail, divorce, counseling, time for the family to move on.

And, five years from now when she's released from jail, she'll sue her ex-husband and his new wife for alimony.

I am going to do something ... (Below threshold)

I am going to do something I hate, and that is to do some editing. I apologize in advance.

Fratricide is the killing of a sibling (from the Latin Frater, meaning brother). The word you are looking for is infanticide, which I don't need to tell you what the root means (sorry to be a total jerk pedantic)

[Ed - The correction suggested above was made]

That being said, I also don't get it. If she had a nanny, she could just be drowning her sorrows down at the local bar instead of the children.

Easiest custody case bar no... (Below threshold)

Easiest custody case bar none.
Thank goodness the kids survived.

Can't wait to see Katie Cou... (Below threshold)

Can't wait to see Katie Couric, uh, manning the barricades of defense for this nutjob. It's just Andrea Yates all over again, and The Perky One was defense witness #1 and #2 and #3 on the air for Yates.

Any word on what religion, if any, this family follows?

Thank God the children are ... (Below threshold)
Sue Dohnim:

Thank God the children are alive. I've had post-partum depression, but never in a million years would I have thought of harming my little babies.

Sometimes I wished I believed in Hell just so there would be a place for mothers like these to spend eternity.

Sounds like a serious menta... (Below threshold)

Sounds like a serious mental disorder. And now terrible trauma for the kids to deal with for the rest of their lives. Psych time (involuntary), not jail time, seems a more reasonable and humane approach for the woman involved. And the kids and hubby will need their support as well. As a patent attorney, he should be able to afford it. The crime is that when this happens to po' folk, no one gets the psych intervention, short or long term, that they need, and if they are middle class with typical insurance, whatever they get may be only partly paid for if at all by their insurance. There's an additional crime against society.

In the same way that the ov... (Below threshold)

In the same way that the overwhelming majority of people with standard depresson don't try to commit suicide, the overwhelming majority of women with post-partum depression don't attempt the suicide/infanticide combo that never fails to freak us out when we read about it... but this doesn't change the simple fact that a small % of people with the very worst cases DO do these things, so we need to stop saying that it "can't" be a cause and start thinking about how to handle these cases BEFORE children become attempted murder victims, or worse.

We ALSO need to stop making ignorant comments like, "but, this person was wealthy/had a good life, so they CAN'T be depressed"; that's like saying that such a person can't have CANCER, because mental illnesses are PHYSICAL illnesses, NOT moods, even though they were given the names of feelings, and ANYONE can get them. And the mental illness=weakness line of thought is exactly the same as saying that cancer=weakness; illness is NOT a value judgment on a person's strength of will.

It's been shown over and over that the most extreme post-partum cases shade over into psychosis; psychotics are NOT responsible for their actions, so she needs to be put somewhere away from the kids, medicated, and not allowed out into society again until she's over it... and that's IT.

Here we go. *rolls eyes*</p... (Below threshold)
Sue Dohnim:

Here we go. *rolls eyes*

Let's not take any personal responsibility for anything, because when anybody does anything wrong (i.e., sociopathic), it's obviously due to mental illness, which in turn is due to chemical imbalances in the brain. All we need are happy pills and head shrinkers to fix all societal problems.

Maybe if we do what Peter Singer wants, mothers won't have to worry about killing their children because it'll be all nice and legal.

We can have the psychologists and psychiatrists change their standards, too, so that infanticide is no longer an aberrant behavior. If we get rid of the stigma, it is no longer a societal problem, right?

It's like the joke about the number of Microsoft executives it takes to change a lightbulb: none, because they'll make darkness the new standard.

Her baby is 19 months old. ... (Below threshold)

Her baby is 19 months old. By that age the factors that contribute to post partum depression (hormonal flux and the sleep deprivation that comes with caring for a newborn) have subsided.

SHE WAS MY SEVENTH GRADE SC... (Below threshold)

SHE WAS MY SEVENTH GRADE SCIENCE TEACHER!!!!! We all knew she was wacko and we tried to get her fired but they didnt believe us!! now they should!!

OMG! I REMEMBER THAT! ME AN... (Below threshold)

OMG! I REMEMBER THAT! ME AND SHANNAON STARTED THAT PETITION! SHE WAS FRIGGIN CRAZY MAN!!!!!!! She was all about "saving the cocroaches". I always felt sorry for her baby, we had her when she's pregnant.


sherr taught at my school, ... (Below threshold)

sherr taught at my school, my brother talked to her several times.

OMG i just read ur comment ... (Below threshold)

OMG i just read ur comment olivia
i know u! ur a year older though
thats wierd

It is such a sad story. T... (Below threshold)

It is such a sad story. The woman is ill. It's a possibility that she never even tried to drown her children and it was all in her imagination. It is very possible. Because if she wanted to do that she would have done that. Yates did that with all her five children.
It's a terrible thing to have that kind of mental illness.
And she doesn't belong to prison. She needs medical attention, and should be kept wherever they keep them, but NOT in prison.






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