Wife beheaded by husband spent life helping women in crisis
The 42-year-old Harlem mom found slashed to death with her 5-year-old daughter — in their own home and at the hands of the vengeful husband who’d threatened to kill them both if she tried to divorce him — devoted her life to helping women and girls driven from their homes by war and disaster.
Tragic mom Jennifer Schlecht, 42, was mourned Thursday by her colleagues at Family Planning 2020, a group that advocates for reproductive healthcare for women and girls throughout Africa and Southeast Asia.
The colleagues are “utterly devastated,” FOP2020 Executive Director Beth Schlachter said in a statement.
“Jennifer Schlecht devoted her entire career to ensuring that women and girls in crisis situations have access to the best medical care possible including family planning and other reproductive health care,” the statement read.
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“She was a leader in the field of family planning and humanitarian response, and chose to work from New York so she could have more time with her darling daughter,” the statement read. “She delighted in telling us about her daughter’s first day of kindergarten and the clothes she picked out all by herself.”
“In addition to being an adoring mother, her contribution to the lives of women and girls who are living in crisis situations has been extraordinary. That she should die under such brutal circumstances is beyond understanding.”
Her husband Yonathan Tedla, 46, used a silver hunting knife with a four- to five-inch blade to slash her throat with such force that she was decapitated, police said Thursday.
Tedla then turned the knife on the couple’s daughter, Abaynesh, slitting her throat before hanging himself from the girl’s bedroom door with a length of rope, sources said.
Prior to her work with Family Planning, Schlecht was a senior advisor on sexual and reproductive health for the Women’s Refugee Commission and director of HIV Supportive Services at Harlem Hospital, according to her LinkedIn account.
She was a graduate of Columbia University’s School of Social Work.