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Most scams, such as sub-prime mortgages and email scams, victimize adults. But custody scams victimize children. When government fails to protect children it throws open the doors to private contractors—lawyers and clinicians—who enrich themselves at the expense of children. (More about this child and the mother who tried to protect her appears below.)

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Father kills 18-month-old for crying

Father Charged In Daughter's Death

Police Claim Guenther Confessed To Striking 1-Year-Old

POSTED: 11:14 am CST February 10, 2010
UPDATED: 7:50 pm CST February 10, 2010


A 22-year-old man is charged with assaulting his 18-month-old daughter while she was in his care. Elizabeth Guenther was pronounced dead Wednesday morning.

Jackson County prosecutors charged Mark A. Guenther with three counts of first-degree assault. Additional charges are possible.

Police said Guenther was at his grandparents' home in Lee's Summit Monday evening when a 911 call came in that the toddler wasn't breathing. The child lives with her mother.

Lee's Summit police claimed that Guenther confessed to striking the child several times. Guenther first claimed his daughter hurt herself when she fell in the bathtub.

According to court documents, when detectives later told him the hospital said the injuries were not consistent with his story, Guenther said he punched the girl on the back of the head with a closed fist because she was crying in her high chair and her head hit the table. When detectives asked him how she acted after that, Guenther said she was quiet and laid there.

The girl was taken to a hospital, but she later died from her injuries, which included a fractured and a bleeding skull, as well as bruising around her neck. "Most significant, though, the medical examiner noted was hemorrhaging in her eyes, which is a term that indicates that the blood vessels in her eyes had burst. This is common in strangulation cases, and that's why we charged one of the assault counts as strangulation," Jackson County Prosecutor Jim Kanatzar said.

Kanatzar said the case demonstrates that suspected child abuse cases need to be taken seriously. There were two previous suspected cases involving the girl from spring 2009 in Cass County.

KMBC's Peggy Breit reported that Guenther's arrangement with the child's mother was that he would take care of his daughter on the weekends.

Guenther is being held on $300,000 bond. Kanatzar said he plans to upgrade the charges to second-degree murder in the coming weeks.

Elizabeth Guenther will be an organ donor, Breit reported.

When asked whether this was a custody case, the reporter responded: I haven't been able to ask about custody details. If I had to guess, I would say they were court-ordered, especially considering the mother had filed several police reports and a domestic assault charge. We filed an open records request to see what resulted from the two separate Department of Family Services investigations in Cass County.

Here is a comment below the online article:
You have absolutely NO idea what you are talking about. Her mother tried and tried to get something done so that she did not have to go see her father. She had DFS out to his house, they found nothing...She filed for an order of protection on a couple different occassions...they were dismissed...She refused to let her see her dad until her back was up to the wall...the court systems had tied her hands and she had no other choices but to let her sweet baby go to her dads house and hope that everything was far as your 'information' is concerned it is inaccurate...attacking her mother in this of all times???? You have no idea!!!!

Blog Archive

About the mother and child pictured at the top

On February 21, 1992, Rhode Island Family Court's Chief Judge Jeremiah Jeremiah gave this two-year-old to the sole custody and possession of her father despite his history of domestic violence and failure to pay child support. The father, a police officer, brought false charges against his ex-wife, first saying she was a drug addict. (Twenty-two random tests proved she was not.) Then he had her arrested for bank fraud, then for filing a false report, then for sexual abuse, then for kidnapping. None of his charges stuck.

The child remained with her father and stepmother until 2003, when, at 14, she finally realized that her mother had not been a drug addict. The teenager persuaded Judge Stephen Capineri to let her return to her mother. There she began working on the painful issues of lifelong coercion and deception--a tangled knot of guilt and rage. Most painful has been her father’s continuing refusal to let her visit two dearly loved half-sisters, whom she has not seen since 2003.

She is one of countless children in Rhode Island subjected to severe emotional and physical trauma by Family Court when it helps abusive parents to maintain control over their families after divorce. When she turned 18 in 2007, she gave the Parenting Project permission to publish her picture on behalf of all children who have been held hostage by Rhode Island custody scams.

We are using this blog to provide links to stories that will help concerned people, including government officials, become aware of this form of child abuse and legal abuse. We must work together to improve the courts' ability to recognize the signs of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in victims of domestic abuse who are trying to protect their children.

PLEASE NOTE: If you are looking for the story of the removal of "Molly and Sara," please visit

About the Author and the Cause

Parenting Project is a volunteer community service begun in 1996 at Mathewson Street United Methodist Church, Providence, RI, to focus on the needs of children at risk in Family Court custody cases. Our goal is to make Rhode Island's child protective system more effective, transparent, and accountable.

The Parenting Project coordinator, Anne Grant, a retired minister and former executive director of Rhode Island's largest shelter for battered women and their children, researches and writes about official actions that endanger children and the parents who try to protect them. She wrote a chapter on Rhode Island in Domestic Violence, Abuse, and Child Custody: Legal Strategies and Policy Issues, ed. Mo Therese Hannah, PhD, and Barry Goldstein, JD (Civic Research Institute, 2010).

Comments and corrections on anything written here may be sent in an email with no attachments to

Find out more about the crisis in custody courts here: provides forensic resources to end violence against women

about domestic violence in hague custody cases:

more about domestic violence in law enforcement: