Six years ago, Rachael Beidelschies of Fostoria went off to her nursing job, leaving her husband to take care of their 10-month-old twins and two preschoolers.
Early in the evening, her husband called to report an accident at home. He had left the twins, a boy and a girl, in the bathtub with 6-8 inches of water. Their 3-year-old was supposed to watch the babies while the husband played video games for about an hour. They were unconscious in the water when he returned to check on them, so he called 911.
"You would think most people would know not to leave kids alone in water. ... He had watched both my other kids before. He had given them baths before. He was just being stupid, I guess. It made me wonder how many times he had done it in the past," Beidelschies said.
First responders could not revive the children. They were pronounced dead at Fostoria Community Hospital.
Children's Services was contacted to investigate.
The two older girls were in the house during the turmoil. They and their mother were traumatized and had to undergo therapy to cope with the crisis.
About a month after the accident, Beidelschies filed for divorce.
"It was a pretty rough time. He had a lot of issues after all that happened. I had to get a restraining order, and he kept breaking into my house," she said. "It was really rough on all of us. My mom actually worked for the police department, so it was up close and personal for her. ... There were a lot of people talking about it at the department. It was pretty public. It was on a lot of news stations."
The state filed charges against Beidelschies' husband, and she was summoned to testify in court. Before the trial and sentencing, her estranged husband continued to harass the family. Victim assistance was brought in for protection and advice.
Beidelschies said she did a few interviews with news stations and newspapers.
Later, she spoke to a couple of support groups for people who had lost children.
Online, she found a support group called "Empty Arms."
"It's actually a really hard thing to find help for, at least in this area," Beidelschies said. "Libra (Martin, victim assistance director locally) really helped us with the court trial. Unfortunately, the charge was involuntary manslaughter by gross negligence, and the state of Ohio said each kid was only worth five years. So he got eight years. He was just released for good behavior, so he served five."
The conditions of his parole specify he is to have no contact with Beidelschies or the children.
Since then, Beidelschies has remarried and has a child with her current husband, who adopted the two girls, now 10 and 11. They were old enough to remember the incident and the break-ins. Beidelschies said the girls still have disturbing dreams and require medication and therapy on occasion.
The Seneca County Victim Assistance program continues to help victims of crime.
Martin and four other victim advocates handle notification procedures for and calculate restitution payments owed to victims of crime, appear in court to provide victim input at hearings, and make referrals for various other victim services, such as professional counseling.
The staff also can assist with protection orders.
The Victim Assistance office is located in suite 1205 in the County Services Building, 71 S. Washington St., Tiffin. For more information, call (419) 448-5070.