Mom Allegedly Tossed Baby in Hudson to Spite Husband

Woman was unhappy living in America

By Katie Honan
|  Friday, May 14, 2010  |  Updated 6:19 PM EDT
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Mom Allegedly Tossed Baby in Hudson to Spite Husband

Getty Images/NBCNewYork

A mother and her child were pulled from the Hudson River.

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An unhappy mother hurled her toddler daughter into the chilly Hudson River and then jumped in herself in an apparent murder-suicide attempt intended to spite her husband, prosecutors said Friday.

Dispirited after a few years of moving around the United States because of her husband's job, Devi Silvia told relatives she wanted to go back to her native India with her 19-month old daughter shortly before the river plunge Tuesday, Manhattan Assistant District Attorney Robert Hettleman said.

Later, "she told us that she was sad and lonely and angry at her husband, and that she did this horrific act on purpose," he said as she was arraigned on attempted murder and other charges.

Silvia told a detective "she threw her infant daughter into the river and wanted to die to hurt her husband," according to a criminal complaint.

Arraigned via video link from a hospital where she's being held for psychological evaluation, Silvia listened calmly to Hettleman's account with the help of a Tamil interpreter. The language is spoken in southeastern India and Sri Lanka, among other places.

Silvia, 33, didn't enter a plea and is being held without bail at least until a June 15 court date. If convicted, she could face up to 25 years in prison.

Witnesses saw Silvia abruptly toss the child, Jessica Prithiviraj, into the river off a pedestrian pier on Manhattan's Upper West Side and then leap in herself, police said. When people on shore called out to Silvia, she waved back at them and seemed to paddle farther out, one witness said.

"By all accounts, (Silvia) made no attempts to save her baby's life," Hettleman said.

Jessica was blue and motionless when rescuers plucked her and Silvia from the roughly 50-degree water, Hettleman said. He said the child was in stable condition Friday.

The city Administration for Children's Services is investigating, spokeswoman Laura Postiglione said.

Silvia and her husband, Dominic J. Prithiviraj, had lived in Illinois, California and New York during a few years in the United States, Hettleman said. It wasn't immediately clear what Prithiviraj did for a living.

When she told relatives Tuesday she wanted to return to India, they urged her to wait a few weeks, until she could join family members who planned to travel there in June, he said.

There was no immediate response to an e-mail inquiry about Silvia to Indian consular officials in New York.

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