Vigil for Krim Children Killed by Nanny Draws 300 at Hippo Park

By Jeff Mays on November 5, 2012 7:02am | Updated on November 5, 2012 7:53am

UPPER WEST SIDE — Standing inside the playground dotted with hippo sculptures that 2-year-old Leo Krim and 6-year-old Lucia Krim, known as Lulu, used to climb on, the family of the children who were stabbed to death by their nanny 10 days ago, were overwhelmed with grief.

"We will always miss Leo and Lulu and think of them every day," said Katie Krim, the sister of the children's father, CNBC executive Kevin Krim, while standing in Riverside Park's Hippo Playground with 300 people during a candlelight vigil Sunday night.

In some of the Krim family's first public comments since police say nanny Yoselyn Ortega, 50, stabbed the children to death in the luxury West 75th Street apartment that Kevin Krim also shared with wife Marina and daughter Nessie Krim, 3, family members expressed gratitude at the public's support since news of the tragedy broke.

"We just thank everyone for the outpouring of love and support," said Sarah Krim, another of Kevin Krim's sisters.

Ortega, who police say slashed her own throat after the killings, was charged with murder Saturday while still a patient at New York Presbyterian Weill Cornell Medical Center where she was rushed in critical condition after the incident.

The nanny was said to be in a catatonic state after awakening from an induced coma but detectives were able to conduct a bedside interview Saturday after which she was formally charged.

It was Marina Krim, returning home from daughter Nessie's swim lesson, who discovered the horrifying scene that sent her and the super running into the hallway. Police have said that Ortega was having financial problems and that her life was becoming undone. She was also considering visitng a therapist.

Attendees at the vigil, many of whom said they didn't know the Krims, said the chill they received when they thought about the incident was even colder than the breeze during the evening vigil which kept blowing out candles.

Two bagpipers who normally lead the playground's Halloween parade, instead played songs such as  "Amazing Grace" while leading the somber crowd down the path from Soldiers' and Sailors' Memorial Plaza at Riverside Drive and 89th Street to the beloved children's playground.

Once there, staff from La Escuelita, a dual language pre-school on the Upper West, sang a song in Spanish they wrote for Lulu, who went to the school. Manhattan Borough President and Upper West Side Resident Scott Stringer was also in attendance.

"I don't think there are words to describe the feeling we have right now," said Patty Riva, a stay-at-home mom on the Upper West Side who didn't know the Krims.

"I wish there was something we can say but there's not. We just want to show them we care," added Ayes Mara, another stay-at-home mom who also works as a consultant.

Tara Hanson and Tali Etra, members of the Hippo Playground Project, a non-profit volunteer group that works to maintain the playground and provide community events, said the memorial was something they felt they had to do.

The grief being expressed on the area's parenting listserves was almost palpable.

"The Upper West Side is all families," said Etra. It's a real community. You live in a city of 8 million people but you see the same kids over and over going to the playground," said Hanson.

"There was such an outpouring of pain it was heartbreaking. We wanted to do something so the community could have a chance to express their love," added Etra.

Marina Krim was also an integral part of the group's art program as a teacher in a popular program called "Creative Tuesdays."

Hanson said that Marina Krim not only designed the program but then set about to spruce up the Park House at Hippo Playground where the classes were held using pictures in antique frames.

"She's an amazing woman. No one should have to live through this," said Etra.

Both Etra and Hanson say their children played with Krim's.

"They were beautiful, sweet and charming. They were darlings. They were babies," said Etra as she held back tears.

Both were touched that members of the Krim family came to the memorial. They hope the outpouring of support will give the family the strength they'll need over the next months and years.

"It's important to get the word out that people care," said Hanson.

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