The April suicide of Angela Mtambu’s 23-year-old son, Mitchell Gwatida, who killed himself by asphyxiation in the Mtambu’s East Greenbush, New York, townhome, not far from Albany, was more than the mother could bear. Worried about her surviving children, officials committed Angela to a Pennsylvania mental institution for nearly three weeks as she tried to overcome her grief. Following her psychological evaluations and release, Angela was allowed to return home and to her two daughters, six-year-old Kutenda and nine-year-old Cara.
But on July 1, after only a week at home and reunited with her daughters, police say that Angela locked herself and her daughters in her home’s bedroom and killed herself and her two young children in an apparent murder-suicide, according to a report from Newsday. East Greenbush Police Chief Christopher Lavin said that after his officers broke into the locked bedroom, they discovered the three unconscious and near death. More than one tank of odorless nitrogen gas was in the room and emitting the deadly gas. The mother and daughters were reportedly found with plastic bags over their heads.
Responders felt the noxious effects from the high levels of gas in the room, but weren’t injured. Rescuers performed CPR on the 47-year-old mom and her two daughters for a half hour. Angela, Kutenda and Cara were all transported to the Albany Medical Center where they later died from exposure to the nitrogen gas.
Angela was a traveling nurse from Texas who had owned her townhouse in East Greenbush for the past 12 years. Angela’s brother, Bernard Pamberi, told reporters gathered outside of the home that he didn’t foresee the murder-suicide. He had spent the day before with Angela and the girls and didn’t witness any irregular behavior or hints of the tragedy to come, according to Syracuse.com.
"We spent the whole day, yesterday, with the children, and they went to Hoffman Park," Pamberi said on Tuesday.
"We went for dinner at Applebee's restaurant. We took them for ice cream at the fun plex."
In the early morning hours of Tuesday, July 1, Pamberi and another brother fortunately awoke to the sound of the nitrogen gas hissing from those two 30 gallon tanks. In addition to locking her bedroom door, Angela also locked her two brothers inside their bedroom. The two brothers managed to escape from their room, but couldn’t get into Angela’s bedroom. Pamberi dialed 911 around 1:45 a.m.
"When they crashed down the door, there she was, you know, with the children with the plastic bags and the two tanks there," Pamberi told reporters.
"I just think she couldn't take it," the woman's brother, Bernard Pamberi, told reporters outside the home as he fought back tears.
Newsday reported the names of the daughters as Callidora and Eudora Thurston. Autopsies on Angela and her two girls are expected to be performed today, July 2. Police in East Greenbush say that the father of the girls has been notified.