A few days before Yoselyn Ortega plunged a knife into two young children she had been hired to babysit, she woke in the dead of night and started throwing pots and pans at the walls of the kitchen in her family’s Upper Manhattan apartment. Her sister rushed in to restrain her.
The next morning, Ms. Ortega told the sister, Delci Ortega, that she did not recall what had happened.
That was one of many bizarre moments family members described this week during Ms. Ortega’s murder trial in State Supreme Court in Manhattan.
After a week of testimony, a picture emerged of an eccentric, outwardly religious woman from a large family in the Dominican Republic, who was plagued by periodic bouts of crippling melancholy, severe headaches and high anxiety about crime. Depression runs in the family, her siblings said: At least three close relatives committed suicide.
Her family members described how Ms. Ortega appeared to be unraveling emotionally in the months before the murders, weeping frequently, losing weight and complaining of insomnia. She also spoke cryptically about hearing disembodied voices and fearing a “black man” was trying to divide her family.