Mother walks into lake with children; she and daughter die
August 19, 2003 at 6:47 PM EST - Updated June 23 at 11:34 AM
By CONNIE MABIN, Associated Press Writer
AKRON, Ohio (AP) - Two children forced into a murky lake by their mother were well-behaved siblings who often played outside and stuck together, neighbors say.
Police say Kennetta Lockhart, 32, of Akron was upset about money problems and walked down a boat ramp into 10 feet of murky lake water with the youngsters. She and her 4-year-old daughter, Kayla Langdon, drowned.
Kayla's brother, Keonte Langdon, 8, swam to safety. He remained in fair condition Tuesday at Akron Children's Hospital.
"He would carry his sister on his shoulders. They played together all the time," neighbor Pat Turner said as she gazed at the children's toys, scattered in their yard. "Look at all those toys. It looks so sad, doesn't it?"
Lockhart's mother, May Langdon, said her daughter left a letter Sunday night on the mantel in her house that left few clues.
"It was a letter like she was saying goodbye, but it said she could not go on and had had enough," Langdon said.
Police would not discuss the letter.
Langdon said her grandson told her Lockhart (pictured with children, above) walked into the lake while holding the children's hands. Keonte tripped over a rock and crawled to shore while his mother and sister disappeared into the water, the grandmother said.
"I don't know what was running through her head. I don't know if she loved her kids so much she wanted to take them with her," Langdon said.
In Lockhart's quiet city neighborhood, Turner said the children were polite and well-dressed like their mother, who kept to herself in the neighborhood near downtown.
Lockhart's mother and sister called police about 11:45 p.m. Sunday to say they thought she was going to drive her Jeep into Summit Lake because she was upset about a car payments and other financial problems. She had a history of depression and did not handle stress well, family members told police.
"The family believes it was just too much," Akron Police Lt. Sylvia Trundle said.
Police found Lockhart's Jeep parked beside the lake early Monday morning. Keonte was inside.
"The 8-year-old was sitting inside in obvious distress, he was throwing up water," Trundle said. His mother's body was pulled from the water a short time later.
With nearly a dozen family members watching from the beach, divers found Kayla about 9:30 a.m. Monday, Trundle said.
Neighbors said they were unaware of Lockhart's problems.
"I never saw a single sign of this," Turner said, sighing. "If I did, we would have helped her."
Joe Mastaso, 17, agreed.
"I saw them playing out in the yard sometimes," he said. "But I never heard anything was wrong."
Bryon McVaney, 18, said the siblings were rarely apart.
"We've seen the out all the time," McVaney said. "I never had heard any problems with them."
The lake is in a park, near a playground and baseball field.
Late Monday, yellow police tape lay near the ramp where 13-year-old John-Michael Williams fished.
"I thought it was sad," he said. "I can't believe she committed suicide with her kids."
Park maintenance worker Billy Davis of Akron said several police officers and divers were searching for the girl when he arrived to work and found the relatives keeping vigil.
"Those people just broke down when they pulled that baby out," he said with his voice cracking. "I have kids and grandkids. Oh my God, I can't even imagine."
C.J. Onyeulo, 13, remembered playing basketball once with Keonte at school.
"He always had a smile on his face. He never talked about anything at home," Onyeulo said. "He always watched out for his little sister."
(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)