A mother faces murder charges after prosecutors said her two young children were found "bound and restrained" in the back seat of a car that had gone off the road in New Jersey, and law enforcement sources said the kids appeared to have suffocated.
Police were called just after 7:30 a.m. Tuesday about a disabled vehicle on the side of Mountain View Road in Hillsborough, according to Somerset County Prosecutor Michael Robertson. The officers who responded to the scene found the driver of the vehicle, identified as Skillman resident Yuhwei Chou, still inside and saw that two children were in the backseat of the car.
A 7-year-old child, identified as Samantha Ross, was found in a booster seat, while a younger boy, 10-month-old Paul Ross, was in a baby seat, the prosecutor's office said. Both children, the daughter and son of Chou, were bound and restrained in their seats, officers said, and not breathing. They were pronounced dead at the scene.
A second source with direct knowledge of the investigation confirmed to NBC New York that at least one of the children — possibly both — was bound with duct tape over their eyes and mouth. There were no obvious injuries or wounds seen initially on the children's bodies, the source said.
The cause of death for the children appeared to be suffocation, according to a law enforcement source involved in the investigation. The medical examiner has yet to conduct an autopsy to officially rule what the cause of death was.
While detectives look into the events that caused the deaths of the young children, the investigation has shown that Chou was responsible for their deaths, the county prosecutor said. A motive has not yet been released.
Little Samantha was a student at the private Waldorf School of Princeton, and previously attended Orchard Hill Elementary School, according to a police source.
The 36-year-old Chou was charged with two counts of first-degree murder, and will be held in the Somerset County Jail until her bail detention hearing once medical clearance is given from a local hospital.
A source who was part of the investigation said that there were domestic issues between Chou and her husband, who was at work at the time the vehicle and children were discovered.
Robertson said that anyone with information regarding the deaths of the children should contact the major crimes unit at the Somerset County Prosecutor's Office or Hillsborough Township police.