A Wisconsin mother of Russian descent charged in the strangulation death of her 8-year-old son was becoming increasingly paranoid and erratic about the war in Ukraine, authorities said.
Natalia Aleksandrovna Hitchcock, 41, of Sheboygan Falls, allegedly strangled her youngest son until he was unconscious on March 30, causing fatal injuries.
Hitchcock is charged with first-degree intentional homicide and attempted first-degree intentional homicide, according to a criminal complaint filed Tuesday.
Sheboygan Falls police have identified the boy who died Friday as Oliver Hitchcock, police said in a statement. statement.
Oliver’s father and a second son were also present at the family apartment during the attack, police said.
Hitchcock confessed to investigators that he strangled his youngest son and also held his 11-year-old son’s head underwater in a bathtub and stabbed himself in the chest, according to the complaint.
The names of the children and their father were not provided in the criminal complaint, but instead were referred to as Victim 1 and Victim 2 and Witness 1.
Witness 1 told an officer that the war in Ukraine seemed to be taking a toll on the mental health of Hitchcock, who the complaint alleges has Russian roots. Witness 1 said that Hitchcock did not have any previously diagnosed mental illness.
“Hitchcock’s mother lived in Russia and … Witness 1 was concerned about Hitchcock’s state of mind while watching the Russian-Ukrainian war on television,” the complaint says.
“He added that in the past few days, Hitchcock also wanted to buy survival gear, such as a camping stove and fuel, and he also wanted to buy knives and guns. She said she was not into knives and guns, but she went and bought extra food as well as a camping stove and fuel with Hitchcock so she would feel safe,” according to the complaint.
“She advised her that Hitchcock also complained that she couldn’t book a flight to Russia to see her parents, which made her angry. She said that she felt that the war between Russia and the Ukraine aggravated Hitchcock more than ever and that she started drinking alcohol. .”
Attempts to contact an attorney who might be representing Hitchcock were unsuccessful Wednesday. She was listed as an inmate at the county jail.
NBC affiliate WTMJ in Milwaukee reported that Hitchcock made an initial court appearance Tuesday and was held on $1 million bond.
According to the complaint, Hitchcock waived his Miranda rights and admitted to violently assaulting his children and stabbing himself with a knife.
She also told a detective that for the previous five days she had been unable to concentrate and that she felt her children were going to be taken from her.
“She also said that people were looking at her strangely and she felt they were looking at her like a Russian spy,” the complaint says. She added that she was worried “people on the dark web would take her children and do bad things to them.”
Hitchcock also told police that he believed the Russian government would take his children and abuse them and that he strangled his youngest son because he was the “most vulnerable”.
Hitchcock also said that she dipped her oldest son in the bath water just to scare him and noted that the boy was bigger and that it would be difficult for her to kill him, according to the complaint.
The older brother told an investigator, “Their mother did not want them to have a bad death and that she tried to kill them by giving them a peaceful death,” according to the complaint.
The older boy woke his father from a nap by saying his brother was dead, according to the complaint. The boy’s father performed CPR on the boy before first responders arrived, according to the complaint.
The complaint says that Hitchcock and her husband have been married for 15 years.
Eric Hitchcock, 51, of Scottsdale, Arizona, is Oliver’s uncle and the brother of the children’s father. He told NBC News on Wednesday that the family is still trying to deal with what happened, especially since she had never been violent with her children.
“She loved her children,” said Eric Hitchcock. “Oliver will be tremendously missed. His dad loved him, and he’s really having a hard time getting over this. Oliver and his brother were best friends, and that is devastating to the family.”
He said his brother called his wife’s parents in Russia on Tuesday and spoke to them through a translator.
His father, who is a “strong Russian,” said Eric Hitchcock, was devastated.
“He never shows emotion, he burst into tears.”
In a GoFundMe campaign, Eric Hitchcock wrote that the children’s father is a truck driver suddenly facing life as a single parent.
“No one should suffer at the hands of a parent, the person whose job it is to protect a child from harm. With no history of assault or abuse, we are left with nothing but questions about why and how this could have happened.
As Hitchcock was being led out of the courtroom on Tuesday, WTMJ reported that she looked at her husband and said, “I’m so sorry. I do not know what happened”.