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Mother kills self, 2 daughters after son's suicide

EAST GREENBUSH, N.Y. - It's a heartbreaking story that has many wondering tonight, if it could have been prevented.

The mother, Angela Mtambu and her 6 and 11-year-old daughters were found inside 58 Rockrose Drive in East Greenbush early Tuesday morning.

Police frantically tried to save them, but it was too late.

They say Mtambu killed them using nitrogen gas.

Police call it an act of desperation.

They say Mtambu was overcome with grief following her son's suicide and planned the murders.

Here’s a timeline of events:

  • On April 1, Mtambu's 23 year old son, Mitch Gwatida, committed suicide in their East Greenbush House.
  • Two months later on June 1, family members in Texas called police because Mtambu indicated she was going to kill her kids. An Amber Alert was issued. She was found in Dauphin County, Pennsylvania.
  • Police say she was held for a psychiatric evaluation for twenty days and then returned to her family on June 22, including her kids.
  • The last Social Service visit at the house was on June 23.
  • One week later, early Tuesday morning on June 30, she killed her kids and herself.

Mtambu's brother took care of the children for weeks while their mother was in protective custody.

He says his sister was grieving for her son, but that the whole family had a great time yesterday and there were no signs of the tragedy to come.

The girls' uncle, Bernard Pamberi, says they went to Hoffman's Playland the day before, had dinner at Applebee’s and ice cream at the Funplex. 

Then overnight, he woke up to the sound of hissing gas.

“Then we tried to knock the door down.  In five minutes time I called 911 because I wanted to know what's going on in there. So we phoned and police were here in five minutes,” explained Pamberi.

Police say Angela Mtambu, 47, killed herself and her two young daughters at her home at 58 Rockrose Drive In East Greenbush – using compressed nitrogen gas in a first floor bedroom.

“Metal bottles of this compressed gas had to be brought into the sleeping quarters, the bedroom and had been released,” said Chief Christopher Lavin of East Greenbush Police Department.

Police say the gas was released into the room and a plastic garbage bag over their heads.

Police say after they got the emergency call at 1:45 a.m., they broke into the room and encountered a very high concentration of the gas.

Mtambu was a traveling nurse and had been working in Texas, but East Greenbush police say they issued an Amber Alert on June 1, when a relative down south called to say she intended to harm her children and to make a cross-country trip here so that she and her daughters could die in the same Rockrose house where her 23-year-old son killed himself by suffocation on April 1.

“So she was going through all this grieving and I think that triggered all this.  She couldn't take it, but there was no sign,” said Pamberi.

Pamberi says the two girls who were killed were full of joy.

As he spoke, he was holding paper with his nieces' handprints -- the last prints they took at the hospital for the family.