Honey, I killed the kids

This guy, who has JOINT CUSTODY, kills his 3 young daughters and then calls the ex to let her know:

Slaying of 3 River Falls Girls Stokes Community Fears of Domestic Violence

Schaffhausen and his ex-wife had joint custody of the girls, and on the day of the killings, he contacted her to ask whether he could see the children, who were being watched by a baby sitter. Jessica Schaffhausen agreed, the criminal complaint states.

Less than two hours after the sitter left the girls at the home with Schaffhausen, he called Jessica Schaffhausen and said, “You can come home now because I killed the kids,” according to the complaint.

She called police, who then found the girls dead from cuts to the neck. The youngest girl also had been strangled. Schaffhausen soon after turned himself in to police.

On Friday, Wojcik said crimes such as the River Falls killings are less about violence than they are about power and control.

“He didn’t just murder them, he then called her to say (what he had done),” she said. “It’s a final act of trying to control that person and inflict the most harm they can on them.”


I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again:  How many of these stories do we have to read before these family court judges get a clue? Joint custody is for mild to moderate conflict, which are NOT typically the cases you see in family court. It’s just re-traumatizing to keep reading these cases. The media has to do its job, too, and provide some context. This is a pattern and deserves the media’s attention.

27 club

You wouldn’t recognize her name, or her voice, or her face. Especially her face.

Laura Ackerson, at the young age of 27, was killed by her ex-boyfriend, dismembered, her body parts put into ice chests, and dropped in a hot swamp in Texas. Her torso and head were found in the water.

Like many of the articles I post on Family Court, Laura was the one declared “unfit.” The boys’ father was given custody. 

The father – Grant Hayes- and his new wife killed Laura so that they could go to the Virgin Islands. Hayes and his wife also had a newborn.

And, again, like all the other Family Court articles, guess who has custody now? Why, the killer’s parents, of course (because they did such a great job raising a murderer?!) And she tells the reporter that the children are “resilient.”

Husband and wife kill and dismember mother of his sons a MONTH after having a baby so family can start new life in Virgin Islands

Slain mom mentioned custody dispute in email to ex-boyfriend

Custody battle for Kinston woman and murder suspect’s children

Ackerson filed a complaint against Hayes in September of 2010.  She wanted custody of her 2 boys.  At the time, Hayes lived in Manhattan, but by the time he filed a counter complaint on May 17th, of this year, he was living in Wake County.

Hayes got a lawyer and was awarded emergency custody of his children on June 15th.  That document reads “the defendant (Hayes) is the fit and proper person to have the care, custody, and control of the minor children.”

Yes – the one with the resources ($$$), tends to be the one that gets custody. He calls her unfit. Abusers can manipulate the court into thinking they’re the better parent and further punish their exes.

Murder as an occupational hazard

I wrote this piece – Murder as an Occupational Hazard – in 2007 when 5 women’s bodies were found in Atlantic City, NJ.  I really wanted to stress how misogyny plays a role in serial killers who target women. Certainly, there are other “vulnerable populations” that these killers could target: runaways, drug dealers on the street, the elderly, the disabled, male prostitutes, etc. — but all too often the common denominator is gender, and profession, although clearly a factor, is secondary.

Recently, the bodies of 10 female sex workers were discovered in NY. Hopefully, it will spur more debate about legalizing (or not) prostitution, a culture that ‘permits’ gender-based violence, devaluing people (for whatever reason), impunity, and making heroes out of serial killers. I just want to add that in this discussion/debate, people need to address the prostitution of minors (johns that use them) and sexual trafficking.

Lust murder: Prostitutes as victims of throwaway capitalism

This is David Rosen’s take:

Many of the female victims of these horrendous murder sprees have been prostitutes. They tend to be young women in their 20s, lost to their birth families and community, and often on drugs. They seem like lost souls who have nothing left but their bodies to sell. They are throwaway living commodities of capitalism.

Getting away with murder on Long Island

This is Nancy Goldstein’s take:

It’s not yet clear whether one killer or multiple killers are responsible. No suspects have surfaced. But that’s not what makes this story really tragic. Some of those 10 people might be alive today if it hadn’t been for the lackluster response of law enforcement and the press coverage of the case — much of it sensationalist and dehumanizing — all because of the first victims’ sex-worker status.

Shooter targets women

And, again, no national news…no conversation…no outrage. It does not have to be inevitable/normal/acceptable that women are injured or killed by men.

Shooting at college in Alabama kills a woman and wounds 3    (women!!!!)


ATLANTA — A woman was killed and three other people, including a woman believed to be in her 90s and a 4-year-old girl, were wounded on Wednesday afternoon when a man with a gun walked onto the campus of a community college in Opelika, Ala., and began firing, the police said.

The police, who described the shooting as a case of domestic violence, said they arrested a suspect, Thomas Franklin May III, 34, early Wednesday evening.

A 63-year-old woman, who was shot in the upper body, was killed, said Capt. Allen Elkins of the Opelika police.

The child was injured by glass from a van window shattered by bullets, the police said. A woman the police believe to be 93 or 94 was shot in her neck and back. Another woman, 36, was shot in the arm. They were taken to local hospitals, and their conditions were not released. A van on campus had three windows shot out and what appeared to be blood stains on the seats, according to The Opelika-Auburn News. The police said the gunman drove away in a white Jeep.

Opelika, about 100 miles southwest of Atlanta, has a population of about 27,000 and little history of public shootings. “This is very rare and very unbelievable,” said Jan Gunter, a community relations specialist with the city.

The college, Southern Union State Community College, whose students often go on to Auburn University, has strong nursing and other medical programs, Ms. Gunter said.

The shooting happened near the health sciences building, and faculty members ran to help the victims, said the college’s interim president, Amelia Pearson, The Opelika-Auburn News reported.

The Violent Truth

There have been many articles lately on Dr. Tiller’s murder. The pro-life movement has long ago waged a war on abortion and it has been threatening and violent. The media has written on all wars but this one. Now, when they are writing about it, they need to be honest: it’s been about as terrorizing as the Taliban. They don’t bomb girls’ schools, they bomb clinics. They don’t impose modesty, but they try to impose their own morality. They don’t commit murder in the name of honor, but they commit it in the name of what? Righteousness? Justice?

Here are two articles that call it what it is:

A history of violence on the anti-abortion fringe 

Who killed George Tiller?

The “pro-life” movement has never really been about “life” has it? If it were, why wouldn’t it concern itself with:

25,000 youth per year that are never adopted in the US

500,000+ women that die each year from preventable causes in childbirth

Millions of female fetuses aborted or killed in infanticide in Asia

1.5 to 3 million women that die each year from gender-based violence

Why aren’t they concerned that homicide is one of the leading causes of death of a pregnant woman?

It’s not really “life” that they are concerned about, is it? I haven’t even mention war yet. And then there’s the prostitutes (murder is the #1 cause of death), the homeless (life expectancy: 50 years)…


The man, a former boxer, punches his 4 month old daughter twice and kills her. The attorney says he didn’t show “reckless indifference” to human life because there was a reason for her anger…the baby was crying.

“He was frustrated with a child; the child was crying,” Gale told Judge David Mortensen while Gardea stood at his side with his head bowed. “In very few cases will parents take an action as extreme as Victor’s case. But it does not show reckless indifference to human life because … there was a reason for his anger.”

Read Father’s Fate in Murder Case  in Limbo Until June here.

Warning: Bias can lead to death

Everyone always asks, why doesn’t she just leave? when you bring up domestic violence. In Teen died after red flags went unheeded in Santa Clara County custody decision, the domestic violence advocate sums up the situation perfectly:

Many victims don’t leave because they have been told by their batterers that they will lose custody of their children, and in Allen’s case, her worst fear came true. Then, earlier this spring she received the dreaded call from law enforcement. “We think we found your daughter,” the officer said, “and she is not alive.”

There are many reasons why a woman doesn’t leave her abuser, but fear of losing custody is certainly one of the major ones. The public would be surprised to learn, but batterers OFTEN receive custody. In many cases, it’s because a battered woman presents poorly in court: nervous, anxious, depressed, fearful or hostile. Meanwhile, the batterer will appear in control and perhaps even charming.  

Mark Mesiti was awarded unsupervised custody in 2005, even though he had a lengthy criminal history including a domestic violence conviction. He violated his probation and was sent to prison. For the seven years previous to gaining custody of his daughter, he amassed a variety of charges. All were red flags. Welfare professionals and Alycia’s mother raised them during the custody battle.

The father was given custody after it was found that the mother was depressed — often the effect of battering — and therefore unfit to care for her daughter. As an alternative to this deadly decision, couldn’t we have wrapped the mom and her kids in supportive services and allowed them to heal together? Depression is treatable. Homicide is not.

This case is NOT an exception to the rule. It’s a common occurence. Battered women are often not believed. The court often thinks she’s being manipulative:

Victims of domestic violence in family court often present their case without representation, while perpetrators often bring attorneys. The imbalance of power the perpetrators use at home to control the victims follows them into family court. When this imbalance exists, victims may not be able to effectively voice their concerns and articulate their needs. Often we don’t believe them. The myth that they are lying about their abuse to gain the upper hand continues to haunt the system.

For more information, visit:



Court-ordered abuse

I come across these cases weekly if not daily: court-ordered abuse. It involves the family court judge allowing visitation or custody of a child to a parent that physically, mentally or sexually abused him or her. The Leadership Council on Child Abuse estimates that more than 50,000 children are placed in this situation each year.

Worse, one way for a parent to get out of an accusation of abuse is to allege “parental alienation syndrome” (pas). PAS is a term used to describe how a parent (most often the mother is accused) “poisons” the mind of a child against the other parent. It is a simplistic term that lacks scientific standards and fails to examine how feelings of hostility can be natural when parents divorce or when a child witnesses violence.

In Brave Girl, 12, Tells Judge: Never Let My Father Out ! the child was sexually abused by her father during court-ordered weekend visits. She tells the judge she never wants to see her father again. Why did he have visitation in the first place? 

Sexual abuse claims are not always believed – many judges think women are being malicious and vindictive when they make these claims. Moreover, when a child states she doesn’t want to see her father again, the dads are claiming it’s PAS. Both of these issues, along with other factors, have put our family courts in a state of crisis, where the best interests of the child are not being met.

Here’s another one: Boyfriend Convicted of Toddler’s Murder, But Jury Says No Death Penalty.

Jessica Davis said she suspected Jarred Knight had been abusing her son. She testified about a change in the boy’s behavior, saying, “Tyler would latch onto me, even made marks on my neck, kick, cry, scream. It would seem that he didn’t want to go with him.”

If these behaviors, which mimic “parental alienation syndrome,” can be found in an intact relationship with cases of abuse, ya think they can be found in divorcing couples withouth the court thinking the woman was malicious?!  One can only hope – the welfare and lives of women and children depend on it.