A 71-year-old German woman drowned her 5-year-old grandson in a bathtub while they were vacationing in the Florida Panhandle because she didn't want to see the boy grow up in a divorced home, authorities said Tuesday.
The grandmother, Marianne Bordt, tried to commit suicide after the drowning Monday by wading into the Gulf of Mexico wearing heavy clothes, authorities said. Bordt, of Nufringen, Germany, was charged with first-degree murder in the death of Camden Hiers at a condominium on St. George Island, about 60 miles southwest of Tallahassee.
A public defender was appointed for Bordt, but no one answered at the office after business hours.
The boy's parents had joint custody of Camden after they divorced in 2006, but he lived mostly with his mother in the Atlanta suburb of Roswell, Ga. His father, David Hiers, lives nearby and is on his way to Florida, according to his attorney.
"I don't think anybody ever knows that a grandparent could be capable of something like this," said Hiers' attorney J. Thomas Salata. "David Hiers is extremely distraught and overwhelmed with grief over this incident."
A phone message left at the mother's home, Karen Hiers, was not immediately returned. She is Bordt's daughter.
Bordt's husband, Heinz, told police he came back from shopping to find his wife returning from the beach sopping wet from the neck down, clad in a red jacket and long underwear.
"Mr. Bordt said that when he went into the house he saw his grandson partial(ly) submerged lying in the bathtub with his face in the water," according to a sworn statement by Franklin County Sheriff's Lt. Ronnie Segree wrote. "Mr. Bordt pulled him out of the bathtub placing him on the living room floor."
His wife tried to run away from the two-story condominium building, but he forced her into the car and the couple drove to the local fire station, Segree wrote. The boy was dead when authorities arrived.
Marianne Bordt was being held without bond and has been placed under a suicide watch.
Her case will be reviewed by a grand jury, which must issue an indictment before she can be prosecuted for first-degree murder. The panel also has the option of reducing or rejecting the charge.
First-degree murder convictions in Florida are punishable by either death or life in prison without parole.
Associated Press writer Dorie Turner in Atlanta contributed to this report.