Police said all four children were alive when Armstrong drove the van into the river. Authorities said if not for Leshawn escaping police would have never know the van was in the river.
"If that child had not gotten out, there would be an entire family of missing persons. You could not see that car from shore," said Ferrara.
"The river is murky and it was dark rainy night," said Vatter. It took search teams an hour to locate the car.
Armstrong's neighbors were shocked to learn that the mother would kill herself and her children.
"She was a very good mom," Tina Claybourne, a neighbor told the Associated Press. "She took care of her kids. She always was with her kids."
The case is reminiscent of an infamous murder in 1994 when Susan Smith strapped in her two young sons and drove a car into a South Carolina pond. She is currently serving a life sentence.