Mother arrested in Kelme murders

  • 2007-04-04
  • By Arturas Racas
VILNIUS - The story of two boys found dead in western Lithuania's Kelme region at the end of March took yet another bizarre twist on March 29 when police announced that the children's own mother, 34-year old Alma Jonaitiene, has been arrested for the crime.

The bodies of eight-year-old Tomas and his 12-year-old brother Mantas were found on March 22 on the banks of Krazante river, some 10 kilometers from the village where they lived.
Police initially believed that the boys, who disappeared on the evening of March 20, were the victims of an accidental drowning, but experts later confirmed they had been strangled.

Lithuanian media has been filled with stories of the family's distress, including reports from the boys' funeral and descriptions of their mother fainting from grief.
The nation was shocked when, on the day after the funeral, Kestutis Siksnys, deputy of the Siauliai district Chief Prose-cutor's Office, announced that Jonaitiene was suspected of the crime. The Siauliai court on March 31 authorized Jonaitiene's detention for one month.

Jonaitiene, a mother of five, was arrested after a four-hour interrogation. Police did not reveal the details of the investigation and did not make any comments regarding motive.
But the Lietuvos Rytas daily, citing sources within the police, reported on April 2 that Jonaitiene had confessed to the crime and that the murders might have been committed to cover up an affair.

The daily said that the investigators' version of events is that Tomas and Mantas learned something about Jonaitiene's relationship with her lover or saw them together when they came home from school earlier than expected.
Lietuvos Rytas also said that Jonaitiene's 41-year-old husband could not believe that a woman he had lived with for 16 years could kill their sons and asked for a meeting with his wife. But Jonaitiene refused the meeting, according to the daily.
The daily also said that police believe that the boys were strangled at home as nobody in the village saw them leaving their house as the mother had claimed immediately after their disappearance. It is believed that Jonaitiene brought her sons' bodies to the river in the family's car.

BNS reported that an unidentified man was also detained for two days by Kelme police on March 30, but police did not provide any details about him.
Under Lithuanian law, the sentence for double murder is life imprisonment.