A New Jersey mother and her two young children were stabbed to death at her Salem County apartment by her husband against whom she was granted a restraining order. The man later killed himself.

The family of the murder-suicide victims has filed a lawsuit claiming that the apartment operators could have prevented the murders by changing a door lock.

According to the lawsuit filed last month in Salem County Superior Court, Ruth Esther Reyes de Severino had "begged" her apartment complex to change the locks on her door as her husband still had a set of keys.

"Ruth Reyes de Severino asked, nay, begged, Defendant Landlord Penns Grove Apartments LLC ... to change the locks on the door to her apartment such that her husband could not gain entry," the lawsuit, which was obtained by NBC News, said.

Reyes de Severino, and her children, 5-year-old Eurianny, and 2-year-old Eury, were found dead in the family's Penns Grove Gardens apartment on Feb. 5, 2020.

Investigators made the shocking discovery after they found the body of Reyes de Severino's estranged husband, Eugenio Severino in a nearby park.

Eugenio stabbed his family to death before hanging himself in a nearby wooded area, according to the lawsuit.

The suit claims that Eugenio had threatened to kill his wife on several occasions before the incident.

On Jan.16, 2020, Reyes was granted a restraining order against Eugenio, ousting him from the apartment they shared.

Reyes had alerted the apartment complex about the restraining order and had requested them to change her door locks because her husband still had a set of keys to the unit.

"Despite Tenant’s fear for her own safety and security, as well as the safety and security of her two small children ... Defendant Landlord denied Tenant’s request to change the locks," the lawsuit says.

On the day of the killings, Eugenio used his keys to enter the apartment, “whereupon he proceeded to murder his wife and children.”

Samuel D. Jackson, a lawyer who is representing Reyes’ estate had made at least five in-person requests to her landlord for changing the locks of her apartment, alerting them of the danger her estranged husband posed on her and their children.

"Women and their children should not have to fear for their lives —or lose them — because their landlords and the parties they contract with fail to keep those women and children safe," Jackson said in a statement Tuesday, Nov.23.

The lawsuit alleges wrongful death, negligence, breach of contract and negligent hiring against the defendants Penns Grove Gardens, its operator, Housing Management Resources, and Roger J. Gendron, identified in the suit as "managing member" of Penns Grove Apartments and Penns Grove Gardens.

"We hope this lawsuit sends shockwaves through the New Jersey landlord community and makes landlords realize the health and safety of their tenants should trump all other considerations — especially profits," Jackson said.

A husband previously accused of murder allegedly killed his wife before proceeding to stuff her remains into a polythene bag and hiding the body in a plastic drum at their home at Jubilee Hills, Hyderabad, India. This is a representational image. Pixabay

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