An Indiana teenager accused of smothering his young siblings to death claims he had been trying to free them “from Satan and Hell,” authorities said.
Nickalas James Kedrowitz was just 13 years old when prosecutors say he suffocated his half-sister, 23-month-old Desiree McCartney, and his 11-month-old stepbrother, Nathaniel Ritz, in the family’s home in two separate incidents months apart.
The now 15-year-old was charged as an adult with two counts of murder for the 2017 deaths earlier this month and is slated for trial in February 2020, but as prosecutors move closer to trying Kedrowitz in the case, new details are being revealed about the teen’s alleged motivations, according to The Indianapolis Star.
Shortly after Ritz’s death, a psychologist evaluated Kedrowitz and told police in October 2017 that the teen may have been responsible for both of his younger siblings’ deaths.
Kedrowitz allegedly said he wanted to free “his siblings from Satan and Hell,” according to court documents obtained by paper. He also spoke of violent imagery including “large knives and burning fire.”
When asked whether he was the one who freed his siblings or whether he had done anything to cause the deaths of his younger siblings, he didn’t respond, court documents state.
When police questioned the teen a short time later, he spoke of similar themes. Initially, he allegedly told police he had a conversation with God about Desiree and Nathaniel but had promised he would keep the conversation a secret.
However, he eventually opened up to investigators and allegedly described a dream he had after they had died: In it, he said he enlisted the help of an angel to save his siblings “from hell and the chains of fire.”
He also told authorities he didn’t want his siblings to live in the same hell he did, and when questioned what hell was like for him, he responded, “Chores,” court documents said.
He later admitted to smothering his sister with a towel and his brother with a blanket, authorities claim.
Desiree McCartney died on May 1, 2017, after she was found unresponsive in the family’s Osgood home, local outlet The Republic reported in 2018.
Kedrowitz’ mother, Christina McCartney, had been living in the home with her fiancé, Stephen Ritz, and four children, including Kedrowitz, Desiree McCartney, Nathaniel Ritz, and Abigail McCartney, who was 1 years old at the time.
Stephen Ritz later told police he had asked Kedrowitz to take care of Desiree while he tended to the other children.
Soon after, Kedrowitz allegedly told him the 23-month-old had stopped breathing just as Christina McCartney was arriving home from work. Christina McCartney began to perform CPR while the family waited for emergency responders to arrive; however, the young girl would later be pronounced dead at an area hospital.
The autopsy was initially inconclusive.
Then, less than three months later, an eerily similar scene played out again at the family’s home, although this time it was Stephen Ritz’s son Nathaniel who was found unresponsive on July 20, 2017.
Kedrowitz had been taking the child to bed for his mother in a bedroom the two children shared when he told her “something is not quite right” with the baby.
A doctor would later determine that the 11-month old’s heart had completely stopped about 20 to 30 minutes before emergency personnel arrived, according to The Indianapolis Star.
An autopsy in that case was also unable to determine the baby’s cause of death.
After Nathaniel’s death, the family was split up and Kedrowitz went live with his uncle. But a short time later, the family would report that Kedrowitz had mutilated a kitten after it had scratched him by squeezing it so hard the kitten almost died.
When his aunt and uncle decided to take the kitten outside to put it out of its misery, Kedrowitz allegedly asked if he could “see the kitten’s brains splatter everywhere,” court documents said.
After being questioned by authorities, Kedrowitz was arrested in August 2018 for the death of his half-sister and step-brother.
One month later, Kedrowitz’s mother, Christina McCartney, defended her son and claimed he had always cared for his younger siblings, according to local station WXIX-TV.
“He’s not the monster that people are trying to portray him as,” she said. “It’s a mother’s worst nightmare to have such a precious family and then to wake up to the worst possible outcomes.”
She also said she didn’t believe Kedrowitz had acted alone and claimed her then-fiancé, who lived in the home at the time, had been abusive to the younger children. She alleged her son had been threatened to carry out the killings.
“He did it under threat. He was told that if didn't do that he was being told he would be killed and that Stephen would kill me," she said.
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