Child Murder Master Database (2008-2017)
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A Sampling of Children Killed in the U.S. by a Parent when Divorce, Separation, Custody, Visitation, Child Support were Mentioned in News Coverage (2008-2017)
*Work In Progress*
Cases w/ mother as (alleged) killer
Cases w/ father as (alleged) killer
YellowCases where a family court knowingly placed children into unsupervised contact or custody
with a dangerous parent, when there was a safer parent fighting for their child’s safety.
Grey Murder-suicide or familicide (during visitation, stemming from divorce/separation, custody issues or to punish the other parent)
Blue -Cases with a clear custody/court/family service angle that require more research or cases that require more research because news reports lacked specific details about parents’ custody status and prior court involvement.
-Cases in which parents killed child(ren) with mention of child support, visitation or stemming from separation, divorce, custody issues or to punish the other parent.
PINKStepmom or girlfriend charged with murder and father’s role in death varies.
New case that has not been added to death/case totals yet
Child Murder Cases w/ Family Court Failure
Filicide in U.S. Family Courts: A Snapshot (2008-2016)
YearStateCounty(Alleged) KillerVictim(s)/Age(s)Date (if known)Kid VicsCircumstances
2016: 12 DEATHS / 8 CASES
2016ArizonaMaricopaJERAD ARISMENDEZ
Audrey (5), Ariah Arismendez (4)
Father killed his two daughters, Audrey Arismendez (5 years), Ariah Arismendez (4 years) in murder-suicide. The blueprint was penned in August by the girls’ mother, Carmen Castillo. While she expressed reservations about “unrestricted” contact between her ex-husband and daughters, there was little in court records that could have predicted the tragedy that unfolded. Court records show Carmen filed and received an order of protection against Jerad in June, amid divorce proceedings that finalized in August. The two had been married for 16 years. The order-of-protection filing offers a chilling glimpse of the family in retrospect, alleging “violent tendencies” and obsessive behavior on the part of Jerad. But Carmen never alleged her ex would harm the children intentionally. When drafting her custody agreement, she proposed “reasonable restrictions” with the girls. In order of protection: “He threatened harm if I tried to leave because ‘he can’t live without us,’ Carmen’s filings indicate she feared for her safety, but she never wrote that Jerad directly threatened the children. In the parenting plan filing, Carmen focused on Jerad’s way of life and how it could affect the girls. “Unrestricted parenting time by Jerad Arismendez would seriously endanger the children’s physical, mental, moral or emotional health,” she wrote. Carmen did not request supervised visits between Jerad and the girls, and asked only that “reasonable restrictions” be ordered. Among them: Jerad was not to drink during visits, and must run background checks and drug screenings on people living in his home. Jerad did not respond to the petition in court, meaning the order would have defaulted to Carmen’s request. Avondale Police said Jerad has been in trouble through the years for family fights, assault, and domestic violence. • • •
2016IowaPolkStephenie EricksonMason Wyckoff (2) 22-Jul-161
Mother killed her son. Dillon Wyckoff was not married to Erickson but lived with her until nine months ago. He said the potential that Erickson would harm Mason was what his family feared most during a heated custody battle with Erickson. Wyckoff said he went to police, the courts and the Iowa Department of Human Services for help with Mason's mother, Stephenie Erickson, who he said was dealing with serious mental health issues. Erickson, who was found unresponsive with Mason in the Grimes home they shared, died at a hospital several days later. “I kept telling (officials) that she was going to harm him,” Cunningham said. “We were more or less treated as if we were overreacting. -- o
Kenai Whyte (3)2-Feb-161
Father with history of DV granted sole custody of son. Kenai Whyte was found unresponsive at his father’s house, Stepmother — Marie Buie — was indicted on murder charges (father was in court supporting Buie during trial). Prosecutor said that Buie was supposed to be caring for Kenai while his father was away from the home. The DCF had an open case with the boy before he died, according to court documents and DCF officials - a care provider told state child welfare officials that Kenai was well just days before he died. Whyte had history of DV arrests and restraining orders, although charges against him were repeatedly dismissed. Ashley Young fled her marriage to Kenai’s father, Dave Whyte Jr., when their son was just 3mos old, according to Young and court documents, which allege that Whyte abused her. According to court and family records, Kenai Whyte’s mother, father, and stepmother had a long history of relationship problems, which sometimes involved their children. Ashley Young once repeatedly told the Suffolk County Probate Court that Whyte had abused her, and that she feared for her son’s safety in his care. “I feel as if my child is in danger with his father,” wrote Ashley Young in a February 2013 probate filing. “If he can beat on me and abuse me, I feel he can do the same to my son.” Despite the abuse allegation, Whyte and Young shared legal and physical custody of Kenai until November 2015, records show. Whyte was later granted sole legal custody of Kenai after Young did not appear for a custody trial. Young said she missed the court appearance because she had just given birth to her daughter, who was born prematurely days before the hearing. Young said she called the clerk’s office to say she could not attend the hearing. * Court records also reveal a tumultuous relationship between Whyte Jr. and Buie. Buie was once accused of attacking Whyte with a glass liquor bottle and biting him repeatedly after the two argued over Kenai’s care, records show. Buie was charged with assault and battery and assault and battery with a dangerous weapon; both charges were later dismissed. -- Morris-Covington (Kenai's grandmother) said she had complained to DCF multiple times over the years that Kenai wasn't being properly cared for but nothing was done. She said her grandson was "scared to death" of Buie. • • • • •
2016MissouriJasperTONY KERNELWesley (9), Timber Kernel (7) Jan-162
Father shot his son Wesley (9) and his daughter Timber (7) to death in murder-suicide. Murder-suicide appears to have taken place four days before a hearing on a amended parenting plan in a custody case between Kernel and Brandy Corum (before Judge Carlton in Jasper County) Josh Beck, the children's uncle, said there were custody problems between his sister and Kernel and that his family had called CPS in the past to report Kernel for abusing the children. Nov 2015: an individual (listed as having same address as Kernel) filed a petition against him seeking an order of child custody and an order of child support. Records also show that Judge Carlton issued a full order of protection against Kernel for an individual in March 2014, which was ultimately dismissed. -- --
2016MontanaMusselshellSara AtkinsonKenny Kreuscher (5)6-Mar-161
Atkinson shot her son in his sleep. Incident took place while he was visiting her in Montana. Ken Kreuscher divorced Atkinson a few years ago and fought to gain full custody of Kenny. The couple had been embroiled in a years’ long heated custody battle in Denver County and there were multiple incidents involving Denver police and Denver County child welfare workers. The parents had 50-50 custody of Kenny. The father, Ken Kreuscher, had sought a restraining order against the boy's mother and had court documentation of the mother's erratic actions. Numerous police reports indicate authorities were told about potential abuse and issues surrounding the child's mother. Father blames child welfare officials for not taking his concerns seriously enough. Kreuscher says DHS knew about the problems since 2012 and never did anything about it. -- --- --
2016NevadaClarkJASON DEJ-OUDOM
Anhurak Jason(9), Xonajuk J.J.(14), & Dalavanh Ariel Dej-Oudom (15) & their mother
Father fatally shot his wife and their three children. Wife, Phoukeo Dej-Oudom, filed for divorce and custody of the children on May 25. She represented herself in the divorce case, and in court paperwork she checked boxes that indicated the case involved domestic violence and CPS. Clark County Family Court records show that an application for a temporary protection order filed by wife was denied without a hearing just weeks before the murders. In the application, she indicated that her husband had threatened the family with weapons in the past, she wrote that “Throughout the marriage, the childrens’ lives as well as mine have been threatened. Guns have been pulled out and pointed to our heads multiple times,” and that her husband was arrested for DV in Ohio in 2005. Husband had also showed up at her workplace and threatened to take the children back to Ohio. She indicated that he had just returned from taking the kids there without her permission. Note: A Clark County spokesman could not confirm whether Child Protective Services had involvement with the family. • • • Courts response:
North Carolina
Buncombe SETH PICKERINGLila Pickering (6)9-Sep-161
Father killed his daughter Lila Pickering (6 years) because he did not want to lose custody of her. Pickering said: “Now they will never be able to take her away from me. She’s happier now. … It’s what she wanted.” System involvement prior to death. Pickering had been in a custody fight over his daughter, who weeks earlier was temporarily placed under the care of a custodian for the Buncombe County Department of Health Services, but Pickering was allowed supervised visits. Pickering’s estranged wife Ashley Pickering said that Lila was placed under protective care because her husband struck another woman. Ashley Pickering said she and her husband separated because he was abusive; they’d been locked in a custody battle for more than a year. Hours before her daughter’s death, Ashley Pickering said, a CPS case worker from the county told her that her Lila “was happy and healthy and in a great home.” “They were going to work on getting her back down here,” said Ashley Pickering, who now lives in Florida. o -- --
2016VirginiaFairfaxROY RUMSEYKyra Franchetti (2)Jul-161
Father shot daughter in murder-suicide. "Kyra was on visitation with her father." *Family court angle not yet reported on, but CJE has alternate sources.
2015: 9 DEATHS / 8 CASES
2015ConnecticutMiddlesexTONY MORENOAaden Moreno (7 mos)Jul-151
Father was in custody fight with mother, mother refused restraining order despite death threats, abuse. Baby killed in botched murder-suicide attempt in which father survived. • Father allegedly threatened to make his son Aaden Moreno "disappear any time of the day" during a bitter custody battle that ended when a skeptical Superior Court judge lifted a temporary restraining order, apparently made good on the threat. The father and the child's mother, Adrianne Oyola, had agreed to split Aaden's custody after a judge lifted a temporary restraining order and denied Oyola's request for a permanent one on June 29th. • Mother feared for child’s safety.
2015FloridaPinellas JOHN JONCHUCKPhoebe Jonchuck (5)8-Jan-151
Custodial father killed his 5-year-old daughter. He threw her off a bridge (possibly while she was still alive). Experts say a history of stalking, battery and domestic-violence arrests involving John Jonchuck should have disqualified him as Phoebe’s custodial parent. Jonchuck was arrested shortly after he threw his daughter and was in jail facing a first-degree murder charge, police said. An attorney who had represented Jonchuck in the past reported him to police and child welfare workers on Wednesday, though it wasn't immediately clear why. The attorney, Torres told the 911 dispatcher that she had asked Jonchuck if he wanted her to file paperwork in his custody case. "It's not going to matter anymore," she recalled him saying. Phoebe's mother, Michelle Kerr, was with Jonchuck for six tumultuous years, and police were called numerous times. Since 2008, Jonchuck has been charged with domestic battery six times, but in every case, the charges were dropped or never pursued. Both parents had arrest records, Kerr had an arrest record consisting of child neglect, petty theft and contributing to the delinquency of a minor, among other charges. DCF Secretary Mike Carroll said a team is reviewing the agency's involvement with the family, which included at least three prior investigations into the family. Authorities said Jonchuck filed a domestic violence report against the child's mother last month, but it wasn't granted. He had custody of the child, and they lived with his father in Tampa. • • • • • • • "
2015MarylandCharlesRomechia SimmsJi'Aire Donnell Lee (3)May-15.1
Just days after father filed for sole custody, his son Ji'Aire Donnell Lee’s (3) body was discovered on a park swing that his mother had been pushing back and forth for two days. A medical examiner ruled the boy died of dehydration and low body temperature. His death was ruled a homicide. James Lee said he went to court before his son Ji-Aire was found dead while being pushed in a swing by his mother. Lee was concerned the mother, Romechia Simms, was suffering from mental illness. He said he did not want to keep Ji-Aire’s mother out of his life forever; he just wanted her to get help. He believed he was the better parent at the time. A judge disagreed. Simms was hospitalized after the death of her son. In 2016 a judge found Romechia Simms not criminally responsible due to mental health. • • •Court records in Charles County also show a history of domestic disputes between Simms and her mother, Vontasha Sim: ---
Narges ShafeiradDaniel Dana (5)16-Jun-151
Mom was due in court for the final hearing in a bitter divorce and custody case just 12 hours after she killed her son Daniel (5 years). **The husband described his spouse as physically and mentally abusive, and claimed that her behavior caused both him and Daniel to fear for their safety. Court records — "the marriage was troubled. In June 2013, the couple separated. A month later, Shafeirad and Azimi-Dana filed requests for restraining orders against each other — with each alleging in court filings that the other had physically abused them in front of their son." Shafeirad and Azimi-Dana agreed to stay away from each other without admitting to the alleged abuse. Father was worried about problems his son was having around her. A joint custody arrangement was worked out for Daniel according to court documents. Shafeirad pleaded guilty to killing Daniel by forcing him to swallow a lethal amount of cold medicine before setting her car on fire and staging a crash to mask her brutality. (read article for full details re divorce & restraining orders, etc.): • • •
2015MichiganAllegan COREY LaVALLEY
Emma McComber (12), Corey LaValley Jr.(10) & their mom
Protective father sought custody of his daughter - Custody battle referenced abuse before triple murder. Prosecutors say Corey LaValley shot Debra Sheppard, their son Corey LaValley Jr. (10) and her daughter Emma McComber (12) and then torched their trailer. The girl's father, William McComber is Sheppard's ex-husband. He says he fought with CPS for years, unsuccessfully trying to regain custody of Emma, because he feared for her safety. He had petitioned the courts multiple times over the past seven years for physical custody of his daughter. McComber says he had not had contact with his daughter since Nov. One day after William McComber’s daughter was found dead, the devastated dad told reporters he had warned authorities that 12-year-old Emma was in danger. Court records examined back up that claim. *Note: Emma had protective father with family court involvement, whereas her half brother Corey did not, as his parents were still together. CPS FAILURE: The Office of Children’s Ombudsman found the Allegan County CPS did not comply with policies and state law in the handling of a child safety case of two children who were later shot and killed by their mother’s boyfriend, who was father to one of the victims. did not comply with rules and laws regarding contact to verify the well-being of the children, Emma, Corey, and a third child The Sentinel will not identify. • -- • • •
2015OklahomaTulsaBYRON CREECHBraydon Creech (5)17-Mar-151
Father charged in death of son, charged with first-degree murder, shooting with intent to kill, kidnapping, second-degree burglary and violating a protective order. Police said the man came to the apartment where his wife and child live, violating a protective order. They said the couple is going through a divorce but have joint custody of the child. He had court-allowed visitation with the boy, police said. Court documents show Creech's wife filed a petition for a protective order in July 2014 after Creech threatened her with a gun. The woman was afraid Creech would hurt her or her son, records say. Officers said Creech broke into the apartment and barricaded himself and the boy inside, but his wife was able to see him remotely through surveillance cameras she installed. In Nov. 2014 Creech was charged with malicious injury to property, a misdemeanor. According to court documents, Creech vandalized his wife's vehicle during a meeting to exchange custody of the child. • --
2015TennesseeShelbyTERRY PATTERSONJosiah Patterson (3)Sep-151
Father charged with murder in death of his son. He was granted joint custody despite being a convicted felon. His criminal record includes a range of charges; he was convicted twice for statutory rape and is listed as a sex offender. Josiah's mother, Kiera Quin (Kerra Brown), fought for sole custody when boy returned to her with signs of abuse. Numerous complaints to CPS were ignored. Josiah's mother and his father, Terry Patterson, had joint custody and his mother was fighting for sole custody after finding bruises on his body. The state DCS had previous contact with the family in the last three years. WREG has uncovered disturbing details that chronicle the little boy's last moments, along with court records that reveal the custody battle that put him in the hands of a convicted felon. The last filing in juvenile court that awarded joint custody also indicated both parties had five days to request a repeat hearing on the matter. Neither Brown nor Patterson did. Neighbors and family members were still trying to figure out why Patterson was given temporary custody with the court knowing of his violent sexual past. • •
2015VirginiaNorfolkJOHN JONASTasha Jonas (11)May-151
Father kills daughter in murder-suicide, while out-of-state mother on the phone hearing daughter's last words. A Virginia family court judge granted John Jonas, a high-ranking Army officer serving at Fort Knox, full custody of his daughter following a protracted legal fight. Dad allowed to do moveaway two years ago to Kentucky. Mother has spent last few years trying to regain custody, with hearing scheduled for August. Family friend believes the bloodshed was sparked by a bitter custody battle between the divorced couple. Manojlovic said Karina Jonas was convinced her daughter was in danger and repeatedly attempted to warn lawyers, the military and court officials in Kentucky and Virginia of the perceived threat. • •
2014: 5 DEATHS / 4 CASES
2014CaliforniaFresnoDONALD NELSONZion Nelson (3)Jan-141
Custodial dad, girlfriend charged with murder in death of son. Dad had extensive history of domestic violence, and father gained custody despite efforts of protective mother. Mother trying to regain custody of surviving child. •
Santa Barbara
Sebastian (13), Vincent Holzer (10), his mother & father
Father stabbed to death his elderly father, then killed his two young sons, his mother and finally the family dog. He then "called 911 and in a calm and matter of fact manner told a dispatcher that he had killed his family.” Holzer told detectives he had killed his family to fulfill what he believed was his destiny. Court records show Nicolas Holzer and his ex-wife divorced in 2006 • Court file chronicles the custody battle, replete with accusations of mental illness, aggressive and controlling behavior, and sexual abuse. • The court ultimately granted Holzer full custody of their children, and largely cut off Juana from contact with the two boys. They had lived with Nicolas Holzer’s parents for the last seven years. Mother’s fiancé said that she had not been in touch with the children for a number of years because the court order had become so restrictive “it pretty much eliminated all contact.” The file depicts a mother who had little recourse or money to fight a financially secure father in the court battle, and who gradually lost more and more contact with her sons. A judge-appointed psychologist, paid by Holzer, performed a child custody evaluation and recommended the father get custody. Juana maintained that her ex-husband had mental-health problems and was aggressive and controlling toward her and the children, but the psychiatrists report indicates that “these allegations were not born out by the investigation.” . • • • •
New Hampshire
HillsboroughKatlyn Marin Brielle Gage (3) 25-Nov-141
Mother charged in blunt force trauma death of her daughter Brielle Gage (3). Brielle's biological father, William Boucher, had been seeking custody. He and his mother, Sharon Boucher, jointly petitioned the Nashua family court. Boucher said the court system and the DHHS failed her granddaughter — said Brielle was returned to her mother last summer by family court — while child abuse charges were still pending against the mother and her live-in boyfriend Michael Rivera. Just 6 months earlier, Marin and Rivera, were arrested after at least two boys in the home showed signs of abuse (4 of the 5 children had bruises - including a baby (9mos)) and told authorities said they were beaten with a belt and starved. Family court allowed mother access while child abuse charges were still pending against her and her boyfriend. 'We want to bring awareness to the issue of child abuse and how the DHHS and the court system failed my granddaughter,' she wrote. • • • • • •
2014New JerseyUnion JENS ELBERLINGThomas Eberling (11)6-Sep-141
Father shot and killed son in muder-suicide, was embroiled in a contentious custody battle that included months of disagreements with his estranged wife over the upbringing of their son, according to court papers and acquaintances of the couple. The couple had shared custody of the son under a court order issued after Chou filed for divorce last May. The parents clashed over a number of issues that spilled over into their son’s chess competitions, brought police to their home several times and created controversy about custody that had to be decided by the courts. History of DV is listed in divorce court papers. --
2013: 6 DEATHS / 6 CASES
PHILLIP HERNANDEZMatthew Hernandez (9)Feb-131
Custodial father charged with murder. Judge Sharon Lueras granted father custody despite father's history of domestic violence, drug abuse. Protective mother's concerns ignored. •!VBs0x •
2013New YorkNew York DMITRY KANARIKOVKirill Kanarikov (3)21-Dec-131
Father had history of domestic violence, suicidal threats, yet was granted unsupervised visitation. During first visit, father threw son off high rise building in murder-suicide. Mother had been nervous and wanted supervised visits, but after her court appearance she relented. • •
2013PennsylvaniaHuntingdon KENNETH AYERSMichael Ayers (2)Mar-131
Father shot and killed son during custody exchange. Also wounded mother. Father awarded visitation rights despite order of protection secured by mother. • •
2013South DakotaMeade
Ellen Cain/Warren Earl Tripp
Tucker Wimpee (13)Nov-161
Ellen Cain, 42, her live-in boyfriend - Warren Earl Tripp, 50, and Cain's son (13 years) all died of gunshot wounds. Father of son: Phil Wimpee. Court documents shed some light on a bitter custody battle over the years between Phil Wimpee and Ellen Cain. In 2010 Wimpee tried to get sole custody of Tucker and his older sister. At one point there was an emergency protective order issued for the children to keep them away from their mother's boyfriend, Tripp. In an affidavit, the children's father said he worried Tripp had the potential of mentally and emotionally affecting them for the rest of their lives. In 2006, Tripp was charged with menacing Court documents reveal a contentious history between Tripp. He was ordered to stay at least 500 feet from Wimpee and to not be present during the exchange of children for visitation.
2013TexasPalm BeachPamela BrooksAlexandra Brooks (10)Sep-161
Mother killed her daughter Alexandra (10 years) in murder suicide. She was embroiled in a bitter custody dispute & had alcoholism and depression. Bradley Brooks drove to his ex-wife’s West Palm Beach home on Sept. 12 to pick up their 10-year-old daughter, Alexandra, as part of the couple’s custody agreement. When he couldn’t make contact with his daughter or ex-wife, he called police. Pamela Brooks’ control was threatened by the prospect of her ex-husband getting custody of their daughter, Cohen said. o o The Brooks murder-suicide came after a custody battle that lasted years. Bradley Brooks, fearing Pamela Brooks would hurt Alex, tried several times to gain full custody. In late May, a judge ordered if Pamela drank again, Bradley would get full custody.o ---
Gunnar Schumacher (14)Dec-131
Father killed his 14-year-old son before taking his own life. Sonny Schumacher was going through a bitter divorce with his wife. And court papers reveal allegations that Schumacher abused her and their kids, physically attacking Gunnar and flipping furniture on multiple occasions. "There was no complaint of domestic violence ever made to the police department," LaRose said. The allegations were handled in family court. But an Essex police officer served Schumacher with a temporary relief from abuse order back in July. WCAX News obtained multiple police reports filed by Christina Schumacher outlining a pattern of fear. In July, an Essex police officer served Sonny with a temporary relief from abuse order. That same month, Christina's brother came to the police department, concerned Sonny had violated the order. In August, Christina called the police to report a suspicious van outside her home, telling police her husband had made threats to her safety if she ever "crossed him." And in October, police were called to Christina's home to stand guard as Sonny removed personal items from the home. Officers said Christina seemed "nervous." Essex police withheld two additional police reports Christina Schumacher made, saying they directly relate to the ongoing murder-suicide investigation. • --- •
2012: 9 DEATHS / 6 CASES
2012FloridaHighlandCHRISTOPHER KINGAmelia King (2)Sep-121
Father left his 2-year-old daughter to die in a car overnight. He plead no contest to aggravated manslaughter. Appears that custody/visitation arrangement was court-ordered; mom's previous concerns regarding father's drug usage, child neglect dismissed. Father eventually pleaded guilty to aggravated manslaughter.• --
2012FloridaOrange WILFRED EXILASSEElijah Exilasse (4)Sep-121
Mother had moved to Colorado, father filed custody petition demanding visitation. Three weeks into summer visitation, boy died from blunt force trauma. Father had previously been granted shared custody of boy but lost it due to neglect. Father charged with "aggravated child abuse" though son's death has been ruled a homicide. Father finally charged with 1st-degree murder in March 2013. • •
JOAQUIN S. RAMSPrince McCleod Rams (2 mos)Oct-121
Father in "bitter custody battle" with mother. Despite mother's repeated concerns which were expressed to the courts, son was beaten to death during father's fourth session of unsupervised visitation. Disturbing details about the father’s background raised questions about the decision of a Montgomery County judge to grant unsupervised access. He is "now" suspected in earlier murder of ex-girlfriend and apparent "suicide" of his own mother. In July 2013, prosecutor stated that may seek the death penalty. Update: The mother filed a wrongful-death lawsuit against the psychologist who sanctioned the visitation - Margaret Wong. •
2012OregonYamhillRANDALL ENGELS
Bailey (13), Jackson (11), their mother Amy Engels
Despite father's history of domestic violence, Judge Cal Tichenor denied mother's request for emergency sole custody of the children in May 2012. Randall Engels killed his two children and his estranged wife before killing himself - triple murder took place the day after his wife told him she wanted to go ahead with the divorce. The last post on his Facebook page read: "If she's gone i can't go on." •
2012VirginiaHanover ROBERT D. KING
Twin daughters Caroline (3) & Madison King (3)
Father in "bitter custody battle" with children's mother stabbed twin daughters, then gassed them to death with carbon monoxide. Father had weekend visitation at time of murders. Protective mother's concerns ignored by authorities. Rob King killed himself that same night. Kristi had offered joint custody of the three-year-olds. Rob wanted the girls to himself. • •
2012WashingtonPierceJOSHUA POWELL
Charlie Powell (7), Braden Powell (5)
Father killed sons in murder-suicide during CPS supervised visitation at his home. Boys suffered hatchet wounds before house consumed by arson. Before the deaths, Susan's parents, Chuck and Judy Cox, wrangled with Josh Powell over custody of the boys and had just won custody. Chuck Cox, said he told Child Protective Services that his grandchildren were in danger from Josh two days before their horrific slayings. Father had lost bid to regain child custody from maternal grandparents just days before. Originally lost custody in fall 2011 when paternal grandfather (with whom father and sons were living) arrested for child porn. Father only “person of interest” in mother’s disappearance (presumed murder) in December 2009. In May 2014, investigators alleged that father also sexually abused the boys. Mother Susan Cox Powell “disappeared” in 2009. Father only “person of interest” in her disappearance. Courts ruling in lawsuit against state in death of Charlie and Braden: “The social workers are not liable to Cox for their recommendations to the court or their facilitation of the Powell family’s court-ordered visitation.” • • -- • Court ruling re lawsuit following deaths:
2011: 2 DEATHS / 2 CASES
Madeline Layla Samaan-Fay (2)Aug-111
Father killed daughter in murder-suicide. Incident followed an award of custody to the girl’s mother, Marcia Ann Fay. She is well-known as a deputy to state Attorney General Kamala Harris. Mother's request for father’s access to be limited to supervised visitation was denied by family court judge James Mize. Daughter killed in murder-suicide that was declared an act of “justice” by father’s surviving brother. • • Madeline’s official cause of death is still listed as pending until toxicology reports can determine whether she died of carbon monoxide poisoning before being shot.
2011New JerseyMonmouthARTHUR MORGAN IIITierra Morgan-Glover (2)Nov-111
Despite history of domestic violence, father obtained court-ordered visitation. Father killed daughter after picking her up from her mother for the court-approved visitation. Father accused of murdering daughter by throwing her off bridge into creek. Father later arrested in California after disappearing. • • •
2010: 9 DEATHS / 7 CASES
2010CaliforniaRiverside ALEXANDRO BAEZAIsaac Gallegos (2)Apr-101
Father charged with murder in the death of son, who was killed during weekend visitation with the father. Parents had never been married and had been in a “custody dispute” for the past year. The “family” had a history with CPS. Father had shown zero interest in the baby for the first year. And yet the judge--in this case Judge John M. Pacheco--awarded the father twice-a-week visitation anyway. He then proceeded to ignore the mother's concerns regarding the child's injuries and signs of psychological trauma. In fact, he threatened to strip the mother of custody for bringing up her concerns. In December 2010, father ordered to trial. Father found guilty of 2nd-degree murder in September 2011. •
San Bernardino
Wyatt Garcia (9 mos)Jan-101
Father killed son in murder-suicide during court-ordered visitation. Parents never married. Mother had pleaded with 3 judges regarding father's violence, threats. three different judges refused multiple requests by the child’s mother for restraining orders to protect her child, despite police reports and documented death threats by the father in text messages and on Facebook. (Mountain News: “This newspaper also obtained from Tagle's family a copy of a court document which suggests Wyatt might still be alive had a judge ruled differently on a petition Tagle filed in a Victorville court just 10 days before the murder-suicide.”) •
2010MissouriJackson CLINTON GALLAGHERAlex Gallagher (6)Dec-101
Father killed son in murder–suicide after judge ignored mother’s request for order of protection, temporary custody. Court records show Gallagher pled guilty to domestic violence involving his wife in 2009. Six months ago, Gallagher successfully sued the Jackson County Sheriff's Office to get his concealed weapon permit reissued. •
2010PennsylvaniaDauphin STEPHEN S. DIXONJayahn Cox-Phoenix (3)May-101
Father convicted in death of his son (drowning/severe brain injury). Parents had no formal custody agreement. Father played no role in child’s life until January 2010. Father allowed visitation by mother. In March 2010, father refused to return child or allow maternal contact. Mom’s early May 2010 petition for emergency custody denied by Judge Andrew Dowling despite allegations of child abuse. Custody hearing set for June 2010. Child dies before then of traumatic brain injury. Grandmother plans lawsuit against county Children and Youth. •
2010TexasHarris MOHAMMAD GOHER
Saeed (12), Saedah (14), Aisha (7)
Despite an extensive history of domestic violence, father granted unsupervised visitation. Children shot to death while sleeping. Father charged with capital murder. "I have documents of everything, all the abuse, and I showed it to everyone, but no one believed me, and they still made me send my kids to him every weekend," the mother. The gun he used was returned to him by the legal system. Update Jan. 2014: Goher admitted his guilt in exchange for a sentence of life without parole. • • - The gun he used was returned to him by the legal system.
2010UtahDavisStephanie SloopEthan Stacy (4)May-101Mother & stepfather, Nathaniel Sloop, charged in death of son, Ethan Stacy. Son was 4 years old when his father (Joe Stacy) had to turn him over to the estranged mother for visitation rights. After a custody fight, a judge ordered summer visitation with the boy's mother and Ethan's father, Joe Stacy, had to comply. Joe Stacy, had expressed concerns about sending him to Utah, saying in court documents that the boy's mother was "unstable" and he feared she would "take him and I'll never see him again." Ethan didn't want to go with his mother as he didn't want anything to do with her-- he was scared of her and he thought she had abandoned him. The father had to make him go or else he would go to jail for contempt of court. Ethan flew from Florida to Utah to be with his mother on April 30, 2010. He was reported missing 2 weeks later, and then the mother confessed that her new husband (Nathan Sloop) beat and abused him to death. Mother helped hide the boy's body and lied to police, Rawlings said. They used a hammer to beat the boy's face so that the police wouldn't be able to identify him. -- -- ----
2010UtahSalt LakeCLINTON HARTVanessa Hart (4)Jun-101
Father and his girlfriend, Marina Navarro, charged in death of daughter. Father and the girl's mother, Stephanie Alfaro, had been undergoing a divorce for the past three years, they both had legal custody to their two children. Father took children from Oregon to Utah and denied mother contact. She said she contacted multiple police agencies, in addition to the courts, to try and track them down. One and a half years later, father charged with felony murder. • •
2009: 3 DEATHS / 2 CASES
Duncan (6) & Jack Leichtenberg (4)
Father killed sons in murder-suicide during court-ordered visitation. Mother had extensive involvement with the courts trying to prevent contact with father. A court order had barred Connolly from contact with Leichtenberg, according to her attorney, Helen Ogar. The order also initially prevented Connolly from seeing his sons. Connolly was allowed to start keeping his children overnight without supervision in December, Ogar said. Before the weekend during which the boys disappeared, Leichtenberg did not want to turn them over to their father, her lawyer said. "She was contacted by the Leroy police and told that she had to send them, that it was an arrestable offense (if she did not)," Ogar said. •
2009TexasGuadalupe DAVID BRASSESarah Brasse (8)Feb-091
Custodial dad accused of medical neglect in death of daughter. Mother had been trying to regain custody since 2007. When Sarah Brasse died of untreated appendicitis in 2009, alone in her soiled bed in Schertz, her father and stepmother had already been investigated multiple times by Child Protective Services over allegations they were neglecting her and her siblings. Their mother JoAnne Guerrero had supervised visits at KidShare. Local child-care professionals at KidShare contacted CPS three times in 2007- the staff also raised concerns that Sarah and her younger brother might be physically abused. Mother claims that she has been fighting for custody of Sarah and her two brothers since 2007 - Soon after Sarah died, Guerrero regained custody of her two sons, which she maintains. Police calling for CPS reform after this incident. After Sarah died, a Guadalupe County jury convicted Brasse and Britain of manslaughter, but an appeals court threw out both verdicts for insufficient evidence in December 2012. • -- • --
2008: 5 DEATHS / 3 CASES
2008ColoradoEl PasoHANIF SIMSGenesis Sims (9)Dec-081
Father obtained custody in New Jersey. Father and girlfriend relocated to Colorado. Genesis' father and her stepmother, Monique Lynch, are charged in death. Mother told the station that she lost custody of her daughter in October 2007. “I wasn’t told of the court date,” she said. “I kept trying to get some court dates so I could get custody of her back.” Girl’s remains found in former home’s crawl space in May 2010. In November 2010, father, girlfriend both charged in girl’s death, ordered to trial. Father pleaded guilty to child abuse in daughter’s death in January 2012. Sentenced to 40 years in prison in April 2012.Sources confirmed that New Jersey child protection authorities filed a neglect and dependency case against Genesis father. New Jersey officials were about to take Genesis away from the couple, but they moved to Colorado. The details of the New Jersey actions were reported to El Paso County, but it is unclear why El Paso County did not act. There was also an Oct. 2, 2008, complaint of abuse in El Paso County. CPS went to the house & interviewed children, complaint was deemed “inconclusive” and El Paso County officials did not open a case. • • • Original link for other article is broken, read full text here: --
Anthony Castillo (6), Austin Castillo (4), Athena Castillo (2)
Father drowned his three children. Mother had tried to stop father from having access, but blocked by courts. Children murdered during court-ordered visitation. After 10 years of marriage, the Castillos wound up in a bitter divorce with Amy Castillo fighting unsuccessfully to persuade the courts to keep her children away from their father for their safety. Father pleaded guilty in October 2009, and sentenced to three consecutive life sentences without possibility of parole.,0,3175966,full.story
2008OregonClatsop ROCKLAND STEPHENSShane Davis (10)Mar-081
Father and son dead in apparent murder suicide. The deaths reportedly come shortly after events connected to a child custody battle. Police say Stephens had his son, Shane, for the weekend and was supposed to return the boy to his mother's house in St. Helens but never showed up. During a Jan. 22 hearing, Davis told Columbia County Judge Steve Reed that Stephens had threatened to kill her, an allegation Stephens denied in court, according to a recording of the hearing. Davis also accused Stephens of fleeing to Fiji with another child, who is now an adult, in order to prevent her from having custody. -- The judge told them it was a classic "he said, she said" but that the alleged threats were very serious, the recording showed. Despite that, Reed increased the amount of visitation granted to Stephens, allowing alternate weekend visitations. When Davis said she was concerned he might take off with the child, the judge told her the FBI would track him down, the recording revealed. • •
Murder-Suicide Cases (2008-2017)
Some of these require more research. Initial media reports were often unclear.
*Totals do not include murder-suicides above
YearStateCounty(Alleged) KillerVictim(s)/Age(s)Date (if known)Kid VicsCircumstances
2017: 5 DEATHS / 2 CASES
2017IdahoFranklinTATE LEE SPILLETT
McCoy (7), Jessica Spillett (6), stepson Corbin Hillaker (15)
Father used a semi-automatic rifle to kill his son, McCoy Spillett (7), his daughter, Jessica Spillett (6) and his stepson, Corbin Hillaker (15), in murder-suicide. According to police reports, Tate Lee Spillet and the children’s mother, Summer Layton Spillett, were separated and in the process of getting a divorce after 10 years of marriage. Officers had responded to the home prior to the shootings for issues concerning the children. Summer Layton Spillett, was working in Illinois when the murder-suicide took place. One other child was away from the home when the shooting occurred. Summer said although she and Tate were getting divorced there were no custody issues concerning the children. • •
2017Illinois KaneRANDALL COFFLAN Brittany & Tiffany Coffland (16)10-Mar-17.2
Father shot dead his twin daughters Brittany and Tiffany Coffland (16), wounded his estranged wife, Anjum Coffland and was about to take his own life. Police in St. Charles, Illinois, say the murder-suicide was preceded by months of domestic distress between Randall Coffland and his wife, Anjum Coffland, who were separated and living apart. The day before the killings, Anjum explained to police that,”she told Randy she wanted divorce after he was telling her he wanted to get back together.” Police responded to a report of 'domestic trouble' on February 9 involving the married couple, but no arrests were made. Police say Coffland had a valid gun permit. In 911 call Coffland can be heard saying, apparently to his estranged wife, "I want you to live and suffer like I did." • • • • --
2016: 28 DEATHS / 14 CASES
2016AlabamaMadisonConnie Henriksen Foster
Layla Leannette (10), David Danger House (8)
Mother in custody battle allegedly killed her two children Layla Leannette House (10) and David Danger House (8) in murder-suicide. Court records show that Foster and her ex-husband, David House, were due in court next month for a custody hearing. Following their 2011 divorce, they had joint custody, but the custody battle began in March of 2015, when House sought a modification of their arrangement and a decrease in his child support obligations. Foster then sought full physical custody of the children and argued that her ex-husband's salary had steadily increased since their divorce and asked that the judge keep child support payments in line with his salary. • • •
Brandi Worley
Tyler Worley (7), Charlee Worley (3)
Mother stabbed her son, Tyler (7), and daughter, Charlee (3) to death in attempted murder-suicide. She stabbed herself before calling the emergency services. A probable cause affidavit said Brandi Worley told police that her husband was divorcing her and going to take the children. She said, "I did not want him taking them, so I stabbed them." Jason Worley, the children's father, was awakened by Brandi's mother screaming and when he walked up stairs he told police that Brandi said to him, "now you can't take the kids from me." Court documents said Jason Worley had filed for divorce just days before citing an "irretrievable breakdown" in the marriage. The couple had been married since August 2009. The father had requested custody, visitation and child support benefits as part of the divorce agreement. The court documents state that the children had deep lacerations to their necks, and Brandi said, "I just wanted to die with them." Worley allegedly admitted to killing them out of fear that her husband, who had just filed for divorce the day before, would take them from her. Despite police saying she admitted to killing her two young children, a Montgomery County mother pleaded not guilty to the crime. • • • • •
2016ArizonaMaricopaLisa GerhartEmily (12), Kyle (17)Jul-162
Mom shot her son & daughter dead in a shocking murder-suicide. Gerhart had recently separated from her husband/children's father. Multiple neighbors say Gerhart was distraught because her husband had left her. • •
2016ArizonaMaricopa*Octavia Renee Rogers
Jaikare Rahaman (8) Jeremiah Adams (5), Avery Robinson (2 mos)
Attempted murder-suicide. Octavia Rogers stabbed her sons - Jaikare Rahaman (8 yrs) Jeremiah Adams (5 yrs), Avery Robinson (2 months) -- to death and attempted to kill herself. Arizona child welfare officials had previous contacts with the family. She's also been in family court multiple times over child custody/support issues. On three separate occasions the Department of Child Safety has investigated various allegations. On one of those occasions, DCS could not locate Rogers. In each case, DCS says it was unable to substantiate any of the allegations. --
2016GeorgiaGwinnettTHY ANH HOPhillip Nguyen (2)Jan-161
Father killed son in murder sucide because he apparently did not want mother to raise son alone. Police believe the incident began as an argument between Ho and his girlfriend. The boy’s mother, Huyen Nguyen. *He reportedly told Phillip’s mother he’d rather kill the boy than let her alone raise him, according to a warrant police obtained before Ho’s death. Thy Anh Ho leaves a legacy of run-ins with law enforcement that began long before he died in an apparent murder-suicide with his toddler. Registered sex offender was supposed to be deported in 2009 after doing 10 years in an Indiana prison for convictions including criminal confinement, armed robbery and gang activity. • •
2016GeorgiaSeminoleHENRY RAMONE BROWNAleah (1), Henry IV (4)22-Jul-162
Father shot and killed the children in murder-suicide, according to the Sheriff's Office. He had threatened to kill her if she took the couple's children away from him. A judge granted Chericia Brown a domestic-violence injunction against her husband, though. He was having an affair - Their marriage deteriorated after that and the couple split in December after several violent fights, reports state. She asked for a divorce and he pushed for full custody. She filed for the injunction on Dec. 21 — three days after reporting the violence to Altamonte Springs police. Records show she asked a judge to let her keep their children, but that Henry Brown could have unsupervised visits. The injunction did not cover the kids. Hours after police responded to a domestic violence call at the home, the estranged husband shot his wife and her two children, as well as her father. Chericia Brown told investigators that her husband would not allow her to have custody of their children. A judge granted a permanent injunction in February to keep Henry Brown away from the couple’s apartment and from Chericia Brown’s workplace, but the state attorney declined to prosecute the Dec. domestic battery case, writing: “There is insufficient evidence to prosecute this case.” Court records show that while Henry Brown was initially barred from being on the Crescent Place Condos property, Chericia Brown decided to move out and left her two children in the custody of Henry Brown. --
2016IllinoisWinnebagoGLEN FLEENERKier Kastler (8)May-161
Kier Kastler (8) was killed by his father in murder-suicide, both of them died from carbon monoxide poisoning. Fleener's wife had recently filed for divorce. Investigators say the 8-year-old was visiting his dad for the weekend. He lived with his mother in Chicago. • •
Ethan (5) & Owen Cadenbach (4)
Father killed sons in murder-suicide after wife asked for divorce and pressed charges against him for DV. Cadenbach’s estranged wife and the boys’ mother, Elisa Sartorius-Cadenbach, had accused him of domestic abuse after she told him she wanted a divorce. She said he hurt her twice in the past nine days and sent a photograph of her bruised face to a friend, who forwarded it to police. Estranged wife said he did it as an act of revenge. Documents filed in Franklin County Circuit Court allege that Christopher Cadenbach was physically abusive and made multiple life-threatening statements before killing his sons and turning the gun on himself. Wife had physical signs of abuse - she told police the two had consensual sex late Thursday night, despite an ex-parte order against him. But that early Friday morning, as he was leaving her home, she told him she still wanted to proceed with their divorce. • • • •
2016New JerseyBurlingtonRUBEN JOHNSON Jr.
Ruben “Tre” Johnson III (10), wife Mashanda
Killed wife Mashanda and son Ruben “Tre” Johnson III (10 years) in murder-suicide. Financial issues & wife was planning on leaving him… According to, Mashanda Johnson expressed concerns for her safety to her friends and was planning to move out. Johnson Jr. was struggling with a medical condition, was "depressed" and "refused" to get help, one of Mashanda Johnson's friends told the newspaper. Mother had recently made plans to move out. Had warned friends that if something ever happened to her it would be her husband. • •
2016New MexicoChaves
Yamilen (14), Cynthia Janeth (11), Abigail (7) & Idaly (3)
Father shot and killed his wife, Cynthia Villegas, and their four daughters — Yamilen (14), Cynthia Janeth (11), Abigail (7) & Idaly (3). Cynthia Villegas asked her husband for a divorce just two days before the shooting. • •
2016PennsylvaniaBerksMARK JASON SHORT Sr.
Lianna (8), Mark Jr. (5) and Willow (2)
A family of five, including three small children, was found dead in an apparent murder-suicide - Mark Jason Short Sr., his wife, Megan L. Short and the couple's three children, Lianna (8 years), Mark Jr. (5 years) and Willow (2 years), all dead of gunshot wounds. Megan Short had been planning to leave her husband, according to Mark Short's relatives. Police have not yet said who they believe did the shooting, but said investigators did find a "murder-suicide note" in the home, along with a handgun near one of the adults' bodies. Authorities called the family's deaths "an apparent tragic domestic incident." Megan and Mark Short had been going through a tough separation recently, and that Mark had been trying to keep the family together. • Authorities have not said what the note contained or who they think was the shooter, but noted that an investigation revealed the couple had been having "domestic issues." The family had also been grappling with a child's illness and post-traumatic stress. • •
Child Murder Master Database (2008-2016)