An NYPD official who spoke to the New York Post said that Ortega spoke of a strained relationship lately between her and the Krims, the family she had been working for since they relocated to New York from California over two years ago.
“She said something like, ‘I’m paid to watch the children, not clean up and do housework.' There was friction between her and the family," said the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
Since the brutal deaths last week of Kevin Krim and Marina Linsley Krim’s two children Lucia, 6, and Leo, 2, neighbors and relatives of Ortega have come forward with details about her life, which they described as being increasingly stressful. Those who knew Ortega, a naturalized citizen who immigrated to the United States from the Dominican Republic more than 30 years ago, corroborated that she had been particularly strapped for money in the past few months.
According to Paul J. Browne, the chief spokesman for the NYPD, “over the last couple of months [Ortega] was not herself.”
“She was, according to others, seeking some professional help,” said Browne, in an interview with the New York Times. “There were financial concerns.”
Aware of her financial struggles, Ortega told the police that the Krims had given her an additional five hours of work a week so that she could earn more money. But the supplementary hours apparently conflicted with Ortega’s doctor’s appointments.
“They were asking her to clean, to do housework. She was unhappy about that,” said the law-enforcement official.Another source close to the situation told the Post that the Krims had recently complained to Ortega about her work performance. “She was told that if she didn’t improve her work, she would be let go,” said the source.
Juan Pozo, a 67-year-old limousine driver who formerly rented a room in Ortega’s Hamilton Heights apartment, echoed claims that Ortega's life had become chaotic lately. Pozo said that he had spoken with Ortega’s sister, Celia, who told him she had been unraveling and “that she felt like she was losing her mind.”
Maria Lajara, 41, a friend of Ortega’s who lives in her building, said that Ortega had recently begun selling makeup to supplement her income. Ortega told Lajara that she had given another woman makeup to sell, but was still waiting to receive $100 in return. The debt was important to Ortega, and she asked Lajara to pray that she would receive it.
"She really loved them, the family," Lajara told the NYT. "She loved the kids, she would take them to the park, and she said the mom was a really good person."
Ortega is reportedly still being treated for injuries at Weill Cornell Medical Center, where she has been since last Thursday when her employer, Marina Krim, found her on the bathroom floor of her Upper West Side apartment next to the bodies of her two young children.
Krim returned to the apartment after Ortega allegedly failed to show at an afternoon dance lesson for Krim’s daughter, Lucia. Thinking that she had simply missed Ortega, Krim and her daughter Nessie walked about seven blocks to their apartment building, La Rochelle, where Krim eventually found her the bodies of her two other children in a bathtub, with multiple stab wounds. Ortega allegedly began stabbing herself in the neck when Krim arrived.
The children were rushed to St. Luke’s Hospital where they were both pronounced dead upon arrival. Ortega was also taken to the hospital, where she was sedated and intubated. When police investigators arrived at her hospital on Sunday to question her, Ortega had already awoken and reportedly hired a lawyer. At that time she was able to speak a little, but was allegedly only speaking to her doctor.
Ortega has not yet been charged with the crime.