The next-door neighbors, who declined to give their names, said the babies’ mother had moved in last month and was related to the longtime previous tenants, a woman who died in February after a battle with cancer and her husband, who died several months before that.
“I’m hearing people yelling and screaming,” said one of the women. “I never heard children. If there were children in there, she must have snuck them in.”
The twins were the latest infants to die under suspicious circumstances in New York City over the past six months.
In January, Antonio Diaz, a 2-month-old boy who had been living with his mother at a Manhattan hotel that was functioning as a homeless shelter, died after she banged his head against a portable crib several times, officials said.
The woman, Alyssa Owens, 25, initially told investigators that she had put Antonio in the crib and had found that he was not breathing when she checked on him later, officials said. After an autopsy determined that the boy’s skull had about a half-dozen fractures, Ms. Owens admitted that she had hit his head against the crib three times “out of frustration,” officials said.
Ms. Owens, who officials said had moved between several shelters in the city over the past few years, was initially charged with assault, though prosecutors said at the time that they expected to upgrade the charges after receiving a final autopsy report. Ms. Owens pleaded not guilty to assault charges in February, according to court records.
In November, a building superintendent found twin newborn boys who had been beaten to death behind a high-rise apartment tower in the Bronx. The chief medical examiner ruled the deaths homicides this month. No one has been arrested in the killings.
Ashley Southall contributed reporting.