The man who authorities believe brutally killed his wife and 5-year-old daughter before taking his own life had threatened his wife about her desire for a divorce, her family says.
As CrimeOnline previously reported, Yonathan Tedla, 46; his wife Jennifer Schlecht, 43; and the couple’s 5-year-old daughter, since identified as Abnysh Tedla, were found dead in their Harlem brownstone on Wednesday night.
According to multiple reports, Jennifer had been decapitated, and was found in the bathroom with her head on her lap; though some reports have not included that detail, and indicated that her throat had been cut but her head had not been completely severed. The little girl’s throat had been slit, and her father reportedly hanged himself in her bedroom.
NYPD Investigating Apparent Murder-Suicide in Harlem https://t.co/DiavQLZgfo
— ab4pr (@ab4pr) November 7, 2019
Jennifer’s father Kenneth Schlecht told the New York Times that family members became worried about Jennifer after not hearing from her on Wednesday, and called to ask for a wellness check on Wednesday night.
The elder Schlecht said he was concerned about his daughter’s safety, as she told him that her husband had become threatening about her desire for a divorce.
She told her parents of her fears most recently in phone call on Sunday, her father told the newspaper, when she said Tedla had threatened that he “was going to ruin her or take all of them down,” and that “he was not going to lose; he always wins.”
“She was in tears, a basket case,” Kenneth Schlecht told the newspaper. “She didn’t know if he would carry on with the threats.”
Jennifer was reportedly a former member of the Peace Corps and at the time of her death worked for the United Nations Foundation, concentrating on reproductive health in humanitarian crises. According to the New York Times report, she met her husband when she was a graduate student at Columbia University, where Tedla worked as a computer contractor at the time of his death.
Today, we remember our colleague, Jennifer Schlecht. Jennifer devoted her entire career to advocating for women and girls. We will all remember her for her life – and the thousands of lives she enriched – rather than the horrible way she died. https://t.co/vbYz6MiUj8 pic.twitter.com/Ri27FmddOb
— Family Planning 2020 (@FP2020Global) November 7, 2019
Jennifer’s father told the New York Times that the marriage was happy in the beginning but that Tedla eventually became violent and threatening. Authorities confirmed that Jennifer had obtained a restraining order against her husband in 2016, though there is no record of domestic incidents.
“She could not change the locks as long as he legally lived there,” Kenneth Schlecht told the New York Times.
“She was planning to serve him divorce papers and an order of protection first.”
Jennifer’s father told the New York Daily News that she had intended to request an order of protection on Tuesday, but the courts were closed for Election Day, so she was planning to on Wednesday.
“My wife expected to hear something by 5 p.m.,” he told the newspaper.
“By about 9 p.m., when we didn’t hear anything, we called 911 and asked for a wellness check. And about 2 a.m., we heard they found three bodies.
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