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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.)

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Mothers seek justice for murdered children

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By Denise Crosby

Last Modified: Dec 31, 2010 02:38AM
This is another in a series on people and events that shaped our communities in 2010.

I don’t pretend to understand a parent’s pain upon losing a child. But I do know what their desperate hugs feel like.

Over the years, I’ve met too many of these hurting mothers and fathers. And in 2010, two of the most memorable women came to me during the month of October, Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

Both had lost beautiful children to men who resorted to murder because they couldn’t stand to lose what they thought were their possessions.

And both mothers came seeking justice.

Justin Boulay, the killer of Patricia Rosenberg’s 19-year-old daughter, Andrea, was getting out of prison in November after serving only 12 years for first-degree murder — and moving to Hawaii with the woman he married while incarcerated.

Riley, Gabriella Ghobrial’s 2-year-old son, had been killed by his own father in a murder-suicide five years ago in Gilberts after a Kane County judge awarded the dad visitation rights, despite Anthony Mangiamele’s repeated threats to harm their child.

Both mothers had been thrust into the media spotlight after such horrendous crimes. And even though years had passed — and both had moved on with their lives —their words, their hugs were evidence the wounds are still as fresh as the tears they shed while talking to me.

Neither had spoken out so publicly before. And in the end, despite their hesitations, both were glad they found the courage to speak.

Ghobrial simply didn’t want others to forget how far from perfect the system still is. And she didn’t want Riley to be forgotten.

With difficulty, she prepared for another Christmas. She worked both the 24th and 25th as a nurse because the holidays are still so very painful. She and her estranged husband had taken Riley to a casino that Christmas of 2004 because her husband had said “her family didn’t deserve” to see the child.

It was just the three of them, she recalls. “It was lonely, but I thought I would be giving Riley a better Christmas the following year. Well, thanks to Judge (William) Weir, I spent it motherless and hurt.”

On Feb. 6, 2005, Riley’s father snapped pictures of his son waving goodbye and labeled the undeveloped roll “Riley’s last weekend.” Then he backed the family’s SUV into the garage, created a makeshift bed for the toddler in the rear of the vehicle and started the truck’s engine with the garage door closed.

About eight hours later, police discovered the murder-suicide along with the film and a barrage of letters Mangiamele had written to Gabriella, blaming her for the child’s death.

The holidays are rough, she told me, but “the true nightmare begins in January, from the 22nd to Feb. 9.”

A national outcry

Patty Rosenberg also lost her child in February — 1998 — when Boulay, Andrea’s estranged boyfriend, lured her to his apartment, then strangled her with a telephone cord, three days before her 20th birthday.

Rosenberg’s Domestic Violence Awareness Month story didn’t keep Boulay behind bars any longer. But the national outcry that followed resulted in harsher parole conditions for the former St. Charles man.

And other tougher legislation may follow.

Like Gabriella Ghobrial, Patty Rosenberg didn’t really want to be interviewed. She even canceled a meeting with me in October because, as much as she wanted to speak out about this topic, her emotions were still too raw.

Later, she changed her mind — after she found out her daughter’s ex-boyfriend and killer was not only going to be released from prison the following month after serving only 12 years for first-degree murder, he would be moving to Hawaii to live with the woman he’d married while incarcerated.

The injustice of it all was just too much for the Batavia woman.

And so we talked. And the story was printed. And the outcry that followed was so swift, so intense, it resulted not only in a barrage of state and national media coverage and a candlelight vigil attended by hundreds, but also that Justin Boulay’s parole requirements were greatly intensified. And there’s even a movement under way to create a registry for murderers, much like the one for sex offenders now in place in this state and many others.

“It was absolutely unbelievable,” Rosenberg said of the masses who came out that cold night in downtown Batavia on the day Boulay was released from prison.

And perhaps just as importantly, the aftermath created a sense of closure for the grieving mother — something that she sorely needed in the years since Andrea Will was found strangled in Boulay’s Eastern Illinois University apartment, yet another victim of domestic violence.

“There never will be total closure until I’m with her again,” Rosenberg said of her daughter. “But I felt healing for the first time. That night (of the vigil) filled an emptiness and a void. And it gave me a voice I never had a chance to use.”

The media exposure also reconnected her with friends she had lost over the years — friends who had fallen by the wayside because they didn’t know how to respond to such tragedy.

“People who had not spoken to me in so long are no longer afraid of my pain,” Rosenberg said.

And on an even larger scale, there is now a growing movement under way on the “Voices for Andrea” Facebook page — started by her daughter’s sorority sisters after Rosenberg’s story was published — calling for a state registry for convicted murderers.

In addition to working on such legislation, Rosenberg wants to see colleges put more emphasis on domestic violence. She wants to see more trained counselors, more support groups and hot lines on campuses.

“Domestic violence is not random. It’s personal,” she said. “And that makes it so much harder for victims to talk about.”

Patty Rosenberg, for the first time, is feeling empowered.

“Before, I was just a victim, too,” she said. “Now I’m becoming proactive.” This “gave me a piece of my life back. And that is a wonderful feeling.”

Copyright © 2011 — Sun-Times Media, LLC

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: