Bookmark and Share

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.)

Friday, February 19, 2010

Why judges and police must learn to connect the dots of domestic violence

Death now a 1st-degree murder case

Laura Taft said her boyfriend threatened to kill her if she ever left him.

On Wednesday, with Taft still mourning the suspicious death of her 5-week-old son, Craig Wall made good on those threats, police say.

Wall, a 34-year-old ex-convict and father of the dead boy, was charged with first-degree murder in Taft's stabbing death. The slaying and arrest, authorities say, came just days after Wall was released from jail for violating a temporary domestic violence injunction filed by Taft.

The arrest affidavit requested that he be held without bail because he was suspected in the death of Craig Wall Jr.

A judge set bail at $1,000, and Wall was released.

Two days later, Taft, 29, was dead.

Courts spokesman Ron Stuart said it is unlikely Pinellas Circuit Judge George Jirotka had a copy of the arrest affidavit before setting bail.

Stuart said the charge against Wall, that he violated a temporary restraining order, was a misdemeanor. At a hearing after Wall's arrest, an assistant state attorney asked for bail of $2,500 and Wall's public defender asked for $500. Jirotka went with $1,000, Stuart said.

"This is a very tragic thing, but I don't think anybody did anything wrong," Stuart said.

Wall first came to the attention of authorities Feb. 5 when he emerged as a suspect in the death of his son within hours of the infant being flown by helicopter to All Children's Hospital.

He was the only adult with the child on that day, and a CT scan showed the baby had swelling on the left side of his brain, leading a doctor at the hospital to suspect the child had been shaken or thrown, court documents state.

Wall was videotaped saying he "was sorry that he did something to the baby," the documents state.

He was not arrested.

Taft showed the videotape to a Clearwater police officer. On Feb. 8, two days after the infant was taken off life support, Taft was granted the injunction against Wall.

Wall filed a petition of his own because he wanted to attend his son's funeral Sunday at St. Dunstan's Anglican Church in Largo. His petition was denied. Wall drove to the church parking lot and was arrested.

Clearwater police said Wednesday that they don't have enough evidence to decide whether to charge Wall in his son's death.

Elizabeth Watts, the city's public safety spokeswoman, said it would have been premature to arrest him because the Pinellas-Pasco Medical Examiner's Office has not determined how the boy died.

"That's why it's not a homicide," Watts said. "That's why it's called a death investigation."

A preliminary examination showed trauma to the brain and fractured ribs, but the results of forensics tests on the child's brain and eyes are not in, court documents state. Watts said investigators don't expect them for a couple of weeks.

In her petition for a temporary restraining order, Taft mentioned that something happened to her infant son while he was in Wall's care.

In 1994, Wall was sentenced to 17 years in prison after he burst into a St. Petersburg home with a long-barreled handgun and told an elderly couple he wanted the keys to a Ford Taurus parked outside, court documents state.

He was released two years ago after serving 14 years. On Wednesday, he was arrested in Sumter County after being found on State Road 44 in his vehicle.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Children need court protection

NJ man tells police he tossed baby off bridge

By SAMANTHA HENRY, Associated Press Writer Samantha Henry, Associated Press Writer – 33 mins ago Feb. 17, 2010

WOODBRIDGE, N.J. – A man who told police he threw his infant daughter off a highway bridge into a New Jersey river has been charged with kidnapping and attempted murder.

Police using boats, dogs and a helicopter scoured the area beneath the Garden State Parkway's Driscoll Bridge Wednesday searching for 3-month-old Zara Malani-lin Abdur.

Authorities say the girl's father, 21-year-old Shamsiddin Abdur-Raheem of Galloway Township, pulled her from the arms of her grandmother Tuesday in East Orange.

The child's mother, Venetta Benjamin, had sought a restraining order against him, but her lawyer said the baby was snatched before the order was served.

The father was arrested four hours after the abduction at a relative's home in southern New Jersey. He is being held at the Essex County Jail.

(This version CORRECTS APNewsNow. corrects infant's last name, per attorney general's office. Will be led. AP Video.)

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!!!!

Monday, February 15, 2010

This child should have been protected by the judge from visitation

Meaghan M. McDermott and Nestor Ramos
• Staff writers • February 14, 2010

GREECE, NY — A Greece man who killed his son and himself Friday was receiving counseling but had lost hope, his mother said.

Carol Gurgel said she’d urged her son, Mark P. Resch, to seek help, and he’d met with a
counselor in the days before he killed his 7-year-old son Hunter and then fatally shot himself.

“I was in contact with him every day. I knew he was overwhelmed with it all,” Gurgel said.
Resch had lost his job and his car at the beginning of the year, and learned recently that his wife was seeking a divorce.

“Just these last couple of days … he’d kind of given up,” Gurgel said. She said Resch, a
recovering alcoholic, had been telling relatives not to bother worrying about him.

“He’s a very generous, gentle kind person,” Gurgel said. “But he did have mental issues.”

According to police, Mark Resch's apparent motive was revenge against his estranged wife.

"There was an ongoing domestic dispute, and this act was definitely a very spiteful, very aggressive act," said Greece Police Chief Todd Baxter. "This person was a mean person and was doing this pure out of spite."

According to a statement released Saturday by the Greece Central School District, Hunter T. Resch, 7, was a first-grader at Paddy Hill Elementary School on Latta Road. The district will offer counseling for students and their parents.

In a written statement, Hunter T. Resch's teacher, Cathy Carpenter, said he was a wonderful child and was well-liked.

"He loved to learn and explore and was so excited to be with his friends," she said.

Police were called to the yellow-clapboard house on Island Cottage Road about 7:30 p.m. Friday, alerted by a 911 call from Hunter T. Resch's mother asking that they check on the welfare of her son, who was staying with his father as part of a court-ordered visitation.

Baxter said the woman was alarmed by a phone conversation she'd just had with her estranged husband, who told her "you'll never make it here in time" to pick up the boy.

Baxter said the woman had left her husband on Jan. 25, the same day she secured a temporary order of protection against him in Monroe County Family Court for alleged threats against her life.

As part of that order, the man was prohibited from owning any guns, so police removed one shotgun from the Island Cottage Drive home at that time.

The man denied owning any others.

Baxter said police were investigating to see how the man got hold of the shotgun used in the killings.

On Monday, Baxter said, Family Court had issued a permanent restraining order against the man. The order included visitation with his son on some weekdays and alternate weekends, he said.

After the 911 call, police arrived at the home within six minutes. Through a front window, they could see a severely injured child on a couch in the living room.

In an effort to save the boy, officers immediately entered the house, where they found the man dead of a gunshot wound just inside the back door. The child was also dead.

Baxter said police found a long note, written over more than a week, that outlined the man's plan to kill his son.

He would not discuss details of the note, which he called "five or six pages of a lot of hate, anger and spite," but said it proved the act was premeditated.

"He thought about this for more than a week, with no indication to us, his wife or the courts," said Baxter. "He talked about how he was going to do it, and our investigation reveals that he pretty much carried out his plan in how he did it. That kid had no chance."

Police held debriefing and counseling sessions for involved officers and the victim's family on Saturday.

Christopher and Cheryl Irick of Island Cottage Road awoke Saturday to news of the murder-suicide. The couple said they never knew Resch or his family and that the neighborhood has always been quiet.

"That's one of the things that attracted us to here," said Christopher Irick. "And the fact that this happened across from the police station makes it even more shocking. It's such an incredibly sad story."

Calling hours for Hunter T. Resch will be from 2 to 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 16, at Vay - Schleich & Meeson Funeral Home, 1075 Long Pond Road, Greece. A service will be held at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday, Feb. 17, at St. Charles Borromeo Church, 3003 Dewey Ave.

Includes reporting by staff writers Chad Roberts, Ernst Lamothe and Gary McLend

Why do judges fail to protect children from forced visitation with dangerous parents?

Father, young son found dead in apparent murder-suicide in Greece, NY

GREECE -- Police said a 39-year-old man shot and killed his 7-year-old son and then committed suicide in a house at 491 Island Cottage Road last night.

Chief Todd Baxter of the Greece Police Department said names of the victims have not been released yet, pending identification by the Monroe County Medical Examiner's office.

Baxter said the mother of the child, who was estranged from her husband who lived at 491 Island Cottage, called 911 last evening asking police to check on the welfare of her child.

The house is located directly across Island Cottage Road from the access road leading to the Greece Police Department.

"The wife was responding to the house at the same time we were responding," Baxter said. "She was coming from another location."

When officers arrived at the address at about 7:30, they first checked the exterior of the house, then discovered the grisly scene when they looked inside.

"They peered through one of the windows and they saw an apparent gunshot victim inside the location, in the living room," Baxter said. "They immediately made entry into the house to try and secure that victim. Upon entering the house, the officers found a second victim just inside the back door of the house. That victim was also apparently dead on arrival from a gunshot wound."

Baxter said that the father picked up his son earlier Friday from the mother's residence for a scheduled visitation period. The mother had received an order of protection against her husband on Jan. 25, and at that time, weapons had been cleared from the Island Cottage Road address by police, Baxter said. A second order was issued on Feb. 8.

Baxter said that yesterday evening, the boy's mother became concerned with his welfare after speaking to the boy's father on the phone.

"She called from an area on Ridge Road," Baxter said. "She got worried about her son based on conversations she was having with the male at the house. So she was starting to respond here. While she was responding, she also called 911 and asked us to go check on the welfare of the child. The officers beat her to the scene and were just doing the preliminary check on the exterior of the house when she arrived."

Baxter, who is in his first week as chief of police in Greece after a long career with the Rochester Police Department, said the situation was a difficult one for everybody involved.

"It is very traumatic on the family, the family is extremely distraught, both sides of the family," Baxter said. "The officers are quite upset, the ones that had to go inside and see the child in that condition. It is a very traumatic situation."

Baxter said that the father had left at least one note inside the house that referred to Friday's shootings.

Baxter said the weapon used in the shootings appeared to be a shotgun.

Includes reporting by staff writer Gary McLendon.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Dead baby beaten by father for being a girl

Polk Man Gets 15 Years for Baby Girl's Death
Thu Feb 11, 2010 2:55 pm (PST)

By Jason Geary

Published: Wednesday, February 10, 2010 at 12:26 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, February 10, 2010 at 12:42 p.m.

BARTOW A Winter Haven man accused of beating his 4-month-old daughter because he wanted a boy instead of a girl was sentenced Wednesday to 15 years in prison for the child's death.

Marcos Gomez-Romero, 30, pleaded no contest to aggravated manslaughter. A charge of child abuse was dropped as part of a plea deal.

Originally, a grand jury indicted Gomez-Romero on Jan. 10, 2008, on charges of first-degree murder and child abuse. Prosecutors had been seeking the death penalty.

But the cause of death for the child was further explored as the case proceeded to trial.

“It became clear that, while the attitude of the father of the child was horrible, there were problems related to determining the actual cause of the child's death,” said Chip Thullbery, a spokesman with the State Attorney's Office.

The plea agreement was a difficult decision to make, he said.

During Wednesday's hearing, Gomez-Romero's lawyer, Austin Maslanik, described the child's death as a terrible tragedy.

He said his client loved both his daughter and his son.

Ariana Rodriguez Romero died on Christmas Day in 2007.

Rescue workers went to the girl's home on 3145 Ave. Q N.W. after being called about the baby being unresponsive. The girl was taken to Winter Haven Hospital and pronounced dead at 9:59 a.m.

An emergency room doctor told detectives that the girl's trachea was full of baby formula, which was consistent with the girl choking on the food, according to investigative reports.

However, an autopsy later found the baby suffered from numerous injuries, including multiple new and old rib fractures.

In addition, the baby had a bruised liver, a hematoma and laceration on her spleen, a hemorrhage in her left eye, a bruise on her shoulder blade, a hemorrhage to a back muscle, and bruising on each side of the mouth near the lower jaw.

Gomez-Romero told a detective that he had been bottle-feeding the girl when she began to choke from eating too fast and stopped breathing, reports state.

He suggested some of the girls' injuries could have been caused as he tried to revive her.

The child's mother, Juana Rodriguez, told detectives that Gomez-Romero hated the girl and was violent toward the baby, but he would threaten to leave with their 2-year-old son if she called the police.

Rodriguez told the detective that Gomez-Romero “loves and worships” their son and was never abusive toward him.

Under further questioning, Gomez-Romero told the detective that he would spank the girl on the buttocks, and grab and squeeze her torso, and would carry her by her hands and arms allowing her to hang, reports state.

“He would become so bothered and angry if Ariana slept too long that he would slap her on the rib cage to wake her,” the report states.

Gomez-Romero told the detective that he wanted a boy instead of a girl, and in anger would call her ugly and a prostitute as well as say that he did not love her, reports state.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

King of his Castle: Custody murders in 2010

Jan Kurth compiled a list of custody murders in 2010. When will custody courts notice?

Freeman, Arthur Philip. Threw 3-year-old daughter off bridge, killing her. Had court-ordered visitation.

Fuentes, Jesus Roman. Shot to death 4-year-old son during visitation.

Garcia, Stephen Charles. Shot to death 9-month-old son during court-ordered visitation. Mother's pleas ignored by 3 judges.

Brown, Cameron. Facing third trial for murdering 4-year-old daughter by pushing her off cliff. Allegedly wanted to avoid child support.

McKenzie, Kelly David. Murdered girlfriend while 9-year-old son was in his home on an "access visit."

Kang, Liu. Beat to death 12-year-old daughter. Appears to have been custodial father (divorced from girl's mother, girl lived with father).

Bacon, Nicholas. Shot to death 9-month-old son during visitation. Had joint custody.

Bohannon, Ronald A. Shot to death 14-month-old son during visitation. Convicted of reckless homicide.

Frazier, Timothy. Murdered 21-month-old son after obtaining custody with police help through fraudulent EPO. Mother is now suing the police and the City.

Robinson, Nathaniel. Murdered 3-year-old son after obtaining custody 1 month before.

Mammone, James III. Stabbed his two children to death, beat to death former mother-in-law. Had been granted visitation rights.

Cockerel, Donald L. Along with girlfriend, charged with starving, beating to death 3-year-old daughter. Dad had "shared custody," but had been refusing to return the child to her mother.

Hensvold, Martin. Shot his ex-wife "execution style" while she was picking up their 2-year-old son.

Desormeaux, Leo IV. Murdered 21-month-old son during visitation.

Watrous, Duke Lawrence. Custodial father who shot to death 10-year-old daughter.

Copland, Andrew. Murdered his 4-year-old daughter and her mother while the mother was dropping off the child for an "access visit."

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Second father-son murder-suicide in two weeks

Hesperia boy, 4, found slain in vehicle with father

By Melissa Pinion-Whitt
Posted: 02/09/2010 06:55:44 AM PST

A Hesperia man shot his 4-year-old son and then turned the gun on himself Monday in the county's second shooting involving a father and son in less than two weeks.

Jesus Roman Fuentes Jr., 34, and his son were flown to a hospital, where the boy died of his wounds. Fuentes was in critical condition, San Bernardino County coroner's officials said.

Motorists found the pair at 6:11 p.m. after Fuentes intentionally crashed his car into a guard rail on Highway 138 north of the entrance to Lake Silverwood.

Paramedics discovered both occupants of the car had suffered gunshot wounds. Coroner's officials said Fuentes shot his son and then himself after crashing the vehicle.

San Bernardino County sheriff's homicide detectives are investigating the shooting.

The incident came nine days after a Pinon Hills man and his 9-month-old son were found dead in Twin Peaks. Sheriff's officials said Stephen Garcia, 25, took his son Wyatt Garcia, of Yucca Valley, during a court-ordered visitation. He threatened to kill the child and then commit suicide.

Their bodies were found Jan. 31 inside a vehicle in the 26000 block of Old Toll Road. Homicide detectives are investigating the apparent murder-suicide.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

When custody courts don't care about children

This account comes from the following blog:

08 Feb 2010 10:21 am
A US soldier waterboards his own child

The British Daily Mail - a populist right-wing paper - reports this:

A soldier waterboarded his four-year-old daughter because she was unable to recite her alphabet. Joshua Tabor admitted to police he had used the CIA torture technique because he was so angry. As his daughter 'squirmed' to get away, Tabor said he submerged her face three or four times until the water was lapping around her forehead and jawline. Tabor, 27, who had won custody of his daughter only four weeks earlier, admitted choosing the punishment because the girl was terrified of water . . . .

[T]he terrified girl was found hiding in a closet, with bruising on her back and scratch marks on her neck and throat. Asked how she got the bruises, the girl is said to have replied: 'Daddy did it.'

. . . a foreign newspaper uses plain English to describe torturing victims by use of near-drowning: the "CIA torture technique."

No US paper has yet to report the story. . . .

Thursday, February 4, 2010

When judges don't believe the violence

A massive new study out of the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services claims a decline in abuse of children. Is it true? Or is it just that authorities do not believe mothers and children who report domestic violence?

Deadly consequences: Judges rejected mom's bid for restraining order

by Beatriz Valenzuela
2010-02-03 17:48:43

VICTORVILLE • A woman whose ex-boyfriend murdered their infant son and then killed himself had sought a restraining order from two San Bernardino County judges only days before the murder-suicide, according to court records (click here to view records) obtained by the Daily Press.

Katie Tagle petitioned two San Bernardino County court judges for a restraining order only days before her former boyfriend, Stephen Garcia, killed himself and their 9-month-old son, Wyatt. Both requests were denied — in spite of Tagle telling a local judge that Garcia had threatened to kill their son.

“My suspicion is you’re lying,” Judge Robert Lemkau said, according to transcripts from a Jan. 21 hearing in Victorville court, “but I’m keeping the custody orders in full force and effect.”

Wyatt was then turned over to Garcia that day. Both Garcia and the child were found dead 10 days later on a Twin Peaks dirt road, after Garcia took Wyatt during a court-ordered visitation.

“Having that restraining order really could’ve helped this situation and possibly may have swayed a judge to grant supervised visitations,” said Anita Gomez, case manager for A Better Way Domestic Violence Shelter.

Lemkau, who couldn’t be reached for comment, denied to make permanent a temporary restraining order signed by another judge — who at first denied Tagle’s original restraining order request.

Family members said when Tagle went in front of Judge David Mazurek in a Joshua Tree courtroom on Jan. 12, Mazurek denied the permanent restraining order despite the 23-year-old reporting Garcia had recently been abusive to her.

Beatriz E. Valenzuela may be reached at (760) 951-6276 or at

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).

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: