Mom who tried to drown son avoids prison

Kathleen Lilly

Kathleen Lilley


WATERBURY — A Southington woman arrested after trying to drown her son in the Naugatuck River because “she needed to save him from impending doom” was sentenced to probation on Friday, June 10.

Kathleen Lilley, 46, told police she had been reading “new media” conspiracy theories online and believed something horrific was going to happen to the world soon. Lilley was initially charged with attempted murder, but that charge was reduced to risk of injury, a felony, as part of a plea deal that spared her prison time.

Lilley will serve five years of probation for the incident, but she will be required to continue with mental health treatment.

The boy, who was 11 years old at the time of the 2013 incident, survived the attempt on his life, Lilley told police, only after he yelled at her, asking if what was happening to him was a dream as she tried to hold him under the water.

“Kathleen then went back to the car, then she wrapped him in the comforter which had formerly been planned for his dead body,” a warrant for Lilley’s arrest reads. “Kathleen reported that they left and then drove to a nearby church where they went and prayed together.”

A police investigation was sparked when an employee at a hospital in New Britain called the Department of Children and Families in October to report that Lilley had disclosed an attempt on the child’s life. She has been in and out of psychiatric care and the incident is believed to have occurred sometime in August, according to the warrant.

Lilley told a detective she told her family she was taking her son to visit a grave site in Waterbury, but was really planning to kill the boy and had placed a blanket on the backseat of her car to place around his body. When she passed Katie Lane in the Town Plot area of the city, she took it as a “sign from the devil,” later explaining to a detective that she was known as Katie.

She took the boy to the river’s edge, then waded in with him, she told police.

“Kathleen reported that she knew he was not a good swimmer so it would be easy to kill him,” according to the warrant.

The boy struggled when she held his head under the water, but she told police she broke down when the boy looked at her, telling her he saw “the devil in your eyes.”

Prosecutor Marc Ramia said Lilley deserved a sentence that didn’t include prison time. There were concerns about the boy’s willingness to testify if the case went to a trial, he said. Lilley has complied with all court orders since her arrest and has received mental health treatment. Other agencies involved in the case, including the Department of Children and Families, have submitted “positive” letters on her behalf, he said.

An attorney representing the boy, Audrey J. Porzio, said the boy is now a teenager. He did not want to testify at trial and is “very pleased” with the disposition in the case.

Lilley declined to comment before the sentence was imposed, but her attorney, Frank Russo, said his client is neither a threat to herself nor anyone else.

Lilley has remained free on a $75,000 bond since her arrest.

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