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Monday, November 25, 1996 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Mother Pushes Kids Off Building, Jumps Herself -- Two Deaths Stun Neighborhood

AP

NEW YORK - On a chilly, overcast morning, Chicqua Roveal marched her three young children up to the roof of their 14-floor building. She looked over the edge into a trash-strewn courtyard. Then, she methodically pushed them off, one by one.

Roveal followed them down, jumping to her death along with her 7-year-old son, Andre, police said. The boy's twin sister, Andrea, and 2-year-old brother, Shando, were critically injured.

A man who lives on the 14th floor was making oatmeal for his children yesterday morning when he saw the first child pass by his window. He looked disbelievingly at his wife, turned and saw a second child come down.

"The second time, I heard the kid scream," he told The New York Times. He yelled at his wife, "That was a kid! That was a kid!"

Paramedics called to the scene discovered the children and the body of a 23-year-old woman neighbors called "a good mother."

The children had been bathed and dressed in warm coats before they were thrown off the roof at around 10 a.m., witnesses told the Daily News. The twins were carrying Buzz Lightyear dolls, the astronaut from the movie "Toy Story" who thinks he can fly, paramedics said.

Andre was declared dead shortly after arriving at Jacobi Hospital. Andrea and Shando remained in critical condition early today.

Shando suffered abdominal injuries but was expected to live because his mother jumped with him in her arms, then let him go, the New York Post reported today.

The boy bounced off his mother's body and landed on a patch of grass, the Post said. After landing, "the baby was sitting up crying and yelling with chewing gum in his mouth," neighbor Shirley Hughes told The Times.

Relatives said Roveal had been under stress from a breakup with a boyfriend, and the reappearance of her mother, who had recently moved in with her after being released from prison.

Neighbor Darryl Johnson said Roveal "always used to tell us her mother was never there for her."

Yesterday, she said she didn't want to live anymore and begged her mother to kill her, said her cousin, Michael Roveal.

Police said Roveal had no history of mental illness and that child-welfare officials had once checked on the family and found no signs of abuse.

A woman who lived near Roveal's 11th-floor apartment and would not give her name said Roveal "didn't seem depressed. She was a good mother."

"Her kids were always dressed nice and everything," Johnson said.

Police spokesman Doram Tamari said Roveal had been "distraught for some time," but said he did not know why. The Post reported that police found a despondent note near Roveal's body.

Hughes said she saw Roveal on Saturday night, when she came up to Hughes' 13th-floor apartment to watch television and borrow cigarettes.

She said Roveal had appeared listless and had a strange look on her face. "Maybe it was a goodbye look," she told The Times. "It was a sad look that I never saw before."

Copyright (c) 1996 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.

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