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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 2, 2010

Suicide-murder of infant son planned on Facebook

Stephen Garcia with his 9-month-old son, who were found dead in the San Bernardino Mountains.

Pinon Hills man plans murder of infant son, suicide on Facebook
Beatriz Valenzuela
Daily Press, February 1, 2010

In a chilling letter posted on Facebook for anyone to see, Stephen Garcia, 25, of Pinon Hills appears to detail how he planned his suicide and the murder of his 9-month-old son.

“I led everyone on my side of the family to believe I wouldn’t of done this because I did not want them to know...” the letter reads. “I had been thinking about doing this for months.”

The post may help San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Homicide investigators piece together what led to the Sunday morning tragedy, when Garcia took his infant son during a court-ordered visitation, drove to a dirt road in Twin Peaks and ended both of their lives.

In the letter posted to his Facebook profile, Garcia claimed the deaths were an attempt to save his son from a difficult life — and to punish the baby’s mother, Katie Tagle, for refusing to come back to him.

“Our deaths are a lot for her,” the post continues. “It will have to suffice as her punishment. But that is not the reason I did it. It was the only way we could be happy without Katie. I did this out of love for our son, to protect him and myself.”

Saved letters, text messages and massive files containing e-mails and other correspondence give a glimpse into Garcia’s obsession, cursing Tagle and her family in some posts and asking her to return to him in others.

Court documents tell more of the story, with Tagle filing a request for a domestic violence restraining order on Dec. 11, 2009. On Jan. 12 that order was denied, as it was found Garcia was not a “threat to petitioner or the minor child.”

A search of his criminal record showed no history of domestic violence, battery or similar offenses in San Bernardino County. However, in one of a slew of other online letters attributed to Garcia, it states, “I’m sorry for hurting you. I’m sorry for hitting you. I’m sorry I made the wrong choices.”

On Jan. 17, shortly after the final visit with Judge David Mazurek, Garcia joined a Facebook group called “Organ Donor.”

In the days leading up to the murder-suicide, Garcia posted a half-dozen videos and dozens of photos of Wyatt with cryptic captions such as, “Please, it’s not too late.”

On his MySpace page, his mood over the last week was listed as “tested,” “bummed” and “scared,” with “one more day :(” his final post.

Hours before officials got a call Saturday night that Wyatt was missing and Garcia had threatened to kill him, he made his final online post: “We love you all.”

The suicide note was posted on Garcia’s Facebook profile Sunday, about eight hours after Hesperia Sheriff’s deputies found the bodies in Garcia’s car. It appears Garcia left directions for someone to post the letter and make it public for everyone to see.

The lengthy post also reads as a will, with directions for how to distribute his possessions and personal notes to family members and friends. It also states that Garcia left a signed letter in his truck, confessing to the killings and explaining why he did them.

Though Garcia mentions using a gun, investigators have not released information on how he killed Wyatt and himself, stating only that they both died from “traumatic injuries.”

Anyone who may have information about this case is asked to call Detective Ryan Ford or Sgt. Frank Montanez at the Sheriff’s Homicide Detail at (909) 387-3589 or call WeTip at (800) 78-CRIME.

Brooke Edwards and Natasha Lindstrom contributed to this report.

Beatriz E. Valenzuela may be reached at 951-6276 or at

LOS ANGELES (CBS/AP) Stephen Garcia clearly didn't want to live without his ex-girlfriend, Katie Tagle, or share custody of their infant son, so in an apparent murder-suicide, the angry California father killed his child, then himself. Hours later he was still telling the world just how he felt, in a suicide note on Facebook, possibly posted by a friend.

"There! Now we're sleeping with you,” the Facebook message read on top of a photo of Garcia and his sleeping son. “Find it in your heart to forgive me. It's my job to protect him. I know God will welcome our son with open arms."

The bodies of the 25-year-old Garcia, of Pinon Hills, Calif. and his son, Wyatt, were found early Sunday on an isolated dirt trail in the San Bernardino Mountains.

The discovery came after authorities learned that Garcia had taken the boy during a court-ordered visit and threatened to kill him and commit suicide.

Officials are looking into whether a third party was involved in posting the suicide note and collage to Garcia's Facebook page, and whether Garcia prepared the items prior to his death.

In the days before his death, Garcia posted seemingly desperate messages to his ex-girlfriend, along with pictures of him and Wyatt, and video clips of the baby at a younger age. On his MySpace page, he set his mood to "scared," and wrote the words, "one more day."

The baby's mother, Katie Tagle, filed a request last December for a restraining order in San Bernardino County Court, but it was denied on Jan. 12 because Garcia was not considered a "threat to petitioner or the minor child."

According to the Hi-Desert Star, Tagle sought restraining orders against Garcia several times, amid claims he sent her threatening messages, but was denied by at least two judges. A restraining order was granted eventually, says the paper, but another judge did not uphold it.

According to the newspaper, Tagle's mother, Maria Brown, said, "This was preventable. This didn't have to happen."

One blogger wrote:

Facebook Gives Murdering Father The Last Word

By Elizabeth C.
TO THE TWISTED AND CONTROLLING MIND OF STEPHEN GARCIA, it wasn't enough to kill himself and his nine-month-old son to spite an ex-girlfriend. He had to have the last word.

In his final vengeful and selfish act, Garcia, 25, shot his son Wyatt to death before turning the gun on himself in a parked vehicle on a rural road in Twin Peaks, Calif.

The murder-suicide was the final act of a tragedy that had played for weeks on the social medium Facebook, the Internet, and in a Joshua Tree, Calif. superior courtrooms.

Garcia was enraged and bitter that his ex-girlfriend, whom I will not mention out of spite to him, had become involved with another man.

So in exhaustive, obsessive detail, he had for weeks begged, pleaded and threatened his ex-girlfriend through Facebook, text messages and his personal website.


A final video and obituary was posted on Garcia's Facebook page within hours of Garcia's death but it remains unclear if it was posted before or after the crime. In it, he makes the ridiculous claim that he killed his son to protect him. He also characterized the deaths as "punishment" to his exgirlfriend.
In another post, he wrote, “I am crazy, crazy in love, YOU did this to me. YOU. I'm not psycho, I'm not obsessive, I'm not a stalker.”

Garcia’s words and deeds were so threatening that his ex-girlfriend of two years unsuccessfully sought a restraining order against him in court.

Three judges denied her request -- with one going so far as to accuse her of lying to bolster her case in a pending custody matter, according to published reports.

"I get concerned when there’s a pending child custody and visitation issue and in between that, one party or the other claims that there’s some violence in between,’’ Judge David Mazurek said in denying the woman’s request for a restraining order. “It raises the court’s eyebrows because based on my experience, it’s a way for one party to try to gain an advantage over the other.”

A day after Mazurek's ruling, after being told by Garcia to check her email, the mother received an anonymous email containing a story entitled Necessary Evil that had alternate endings.

One ending depicted the female character happily returning to her estranged partner; in the second, the male kills his son with Benadryl. The estranged girlfriend immediately notified authorities who obtained an emergency restraining order. But the following day, a third judge refused to uphold that order.

A family member told reporters that that judge, Robert Lemkau, had pointed to the mother in court said, “One of you is lying and I think it’s you.”

Justifiably so, the case have provoked an uproar over the jurists’ indifference to the mother’s claims.

“This was preventable. This didn’t have to happen,” the child’s grandmother told a Hi-Desert Star reporter. “The system failed Wyatt. It cost him his life.”

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).

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