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Jul 5, 2019 4:49 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Mother Accused Of Killing Twins To Appear In Riverhead Court July 10, Now Faces First-Degree Murder Charges

Tenia Campbell was arraigned in East Hampton Town Justice Court on June 28. KYRIL BROMLEY
Jul 9, 2019 11:01 AM

The Medford mother who is accused of having killed her twin 2-year-old daughters before driving to Montauk with them in the backseat of her minivan last month was scheduled to be arraigned on new first-degree murder charges in Suffolk County Criminal Court in Riverhead on Wednesday, July 10.

Tenia Campbell, 24, was charged with two counts of second-degree murder when she was initially arraigned in East Hampton Town Justice Court on June 28—the day after she begged East Hampton Town Police officers to shoot her as they approached the entrance to a Suffolk County park in Montauk, where she had parked her minivan, with the unconscious toddlers still strapped into car seats in the backseat.

With the case now transferred to the county courts, where all felony crimes are adjudicated, Ms. Campbell will now face two new counts of first-degree murder charges, in addition to the second-degree murder charges, when she is arraigned before Judge Richard Ambro at the Arthur M. Cromarty court complex in Riverside.

She faces 25 years to life in prison for each of the murder charges.

The single mother, who is said to have worked as a home health aide, had told her own mother in a frantic phone call on June 27 that she had killed her two little girls “with my bare hands” and was going to kill herself at a beach.

Police have not discussed details of how or exactly where Ms. Campbell is thought to have killed the girls, but the account her mother gave would have meant the girls were dead hours before they were found in the car in Montauk.

Ms. Campbell’s mother, Vanessa McQueen, told police that her daughter had suffered from mental health issues her whole life and had been diagnosed as bipolar when she was a teenager. She said Ms. Campbell had been especially stressed and angry in the week leading up to the incident. Court records show that her landlord had started eviction proceedings against her, and that she had been scheduled to appear in court on June 26 but that the hearing had been rescheduled.

While Ms. Campbell talked with her mother, police tracked the cellphone signal to the entrance of Montauk County Park, near Third House, on the afternoon of Thursday, June 27.

When police arrived they found Ms. Campbell standing in the street near Montauk Highway. She screamed at officers to shoot her, according to an account given by Suffolk County Police Commissioner Geraldine Hart the next day. Police found her daughters in the minivan nearby and despite efforts by emergency responders to revive them, they were pronounced dead at Stony Brook Southampton Hospital later that afternoon.

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