Local News

Report: Mother who drove into Jordan Lake thought organization was after son

Posted May 23, 2016
Updated May 26, 2016

— A mother who drove her car into Jordan Lake with her 5-year-old son inside had empty liquor bottles in the vehicle and claimed she was trying to save her son, according to an incident report released last week.

Leonora Cillay drove her car off the Seaforth Boat Ramp on the morning of May 14. Cillay and her son, Ben Cillay, were rescued by a family who had just launched their pontoon boat from the area.

According to a North Carolina Division of Parks and Recreation case incident report, beer cans and at least two bottles of vodka were found floating near the car as it sank. The car was also filled with important paperwork belonging to Leonora Cillay and her son, including social security cards, passports, and credit cards that had been placed inside a Radio-Frequency Identification blocker.

During the course of the initial investigation, Leonora Cillay repeatedly asked officers to remove their sunglasses so she could see their eyes, saying “I need to connect with people, look me in the eyes.” She also made strange statements, including saying “North Carolina is a gray state.”

Leonora Cillay, who is originally from London, England, told officers that she was trying to save her son and that “an organization was after her son and this was the best option,” the report said. She told officers that they could find all the information they needed in an online blog post, that officers said they could not find.

In her blog post, which WRAL News located, Leonora Cillay mentions that she had her son tested for several illnesses and believed he could be targeted by terrorists through a bio-chemical attack on school water. The blog states that Leonora Cillay had previously been in therapy.

A witness on the scene had discovered a suicide note at the scene that said "I know who I am not. I know what they plan to do with Ben. I cannot let that happen. This is the best I can do for Ben."

Ben Cillay would not speak to officers and Leonora Cillay said he did not talk. When asked how she communicates with him, she responded “I just know, I just know,” the report said.

As officers attempted to aid her son, Leonora Cillay repeatedly asked to see the boy even though he was only a few feet away, investigators said.

Leonora Cillay was eventually handcuffed by officers due to her lack of cooperation and she and her son were transported to UNC Hospital. Ben Cillay was put on oxygen and vomited several times before slumping over in the ambulance, the report said.

According to the report, doctors believed Ben Cillay had been underwater for a significant amount of time. His condition was unknown Monday night.

Officials with the State Bureau of Investigation said Leonora Cillay will likely face charges in connection with the incident.


Please with your WRAL.com account to comment on this story. You also will need a Facebook account to comment.

Oldest First
View all
  • Rebecca Caldwell May 24, 2016
    user avatar

    Its so sad tat we can't intervene with folks who are clearly in distress until they've proved themselves to be a danger. Then it's often too late. Charges will be filed? Well, great. Hopefully this woman will learn her lesson and not be mentally ill in the future.

  • Rachael Garner May 24, 2016
    user avatar

    Bernadette your compassion is heartwarming. The woman is suffering from some serious mental illness.

  • Bernadette Dan Unger May 24, 2016
    user avatar

    Just another Kook! Can't wait until she says she hears voices on her way to a fruitcake conviction.

  • Jennifer Hulford May 24, 2016
    user avatar

    In the medical field, they are responsible for protecting mentally ill and sick people's privacy. What responsibility do the police and journalism have in this respect? Apparently none. So if a doctor comes on TV and spills the beans about your illness, he loses his license, is fined and/or can go to prison. But if a cop, or reporter does it, it's fine.

  • Erica Konopka May 24, 2016
    user avatar

    Not to sound all conspiracy-theorist'y, but covert operations like this actually do happen. Even here in the US. I'm sure the 'fun' didn't stop with Project Monarch. One method of keeping the victims in check is to discredit them by making them look nuts. However unlikely that scenario is, whatever is going on with this mom and her young boy, I feel for them. :(

  • Perry Masonjar May 24, 2016
    user avatar

    The son needs to be placed in a very loving family, while Mom gets straightened out. Prayers to the Mom and son.

  • Ray Rivera May 24, 2016
    user avatar

    God help this woman and her child.

  • Mindi Minguez May 23, 2016
    user avatar

    View quoted thread

    Amen!! There are certainly some demons that need to be dealt with. I would love to have an update on the condition of her son! WRAL?

  • Betsey Duggins May 23, 2016
    user avatar

    God, please help her and her son. Obviously she is dealing with some very complex issues. May she get the mental health treatment she needs and I hope her son will pull through and recover.