"Our government is the potent, the omnipresent teacher. For good or for ill it teaches the whole people by its example.
Crime is contagious. If the government becomes a law breaker, it breeds contempt for law; it invites every man to become a law unto himself."
–Supreme Court Justice Brandeis

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Illinois Family Court Failure Leads to Deaths of Two More Children

Illinois Family Court Failure Leads to Deaths of Two More Children

Yesterday, March 30, 2009, 9:22:54 PM | batteredmomslosecustody

The mother of two young boys found dead over the weekend said she feels the judicial system failed to protect her and her children.

Amy Leichtenberg’s worst fears came true when her two boys, Jack and Duncan, were found dead from an apparent double murder-suicide committed by her ex-husband, Michael Connelly. Amy had desperately tried to protect her boys, but the judicial system would NOT LISTEN to her and sent her children to their deaths. The judge, the father’s lawyer, and all others who failed to protect these children need to be made accountable for yet another tragedy that should have been easily prevented had the mother’s warnings been heeded.

Mom and Town React To Tragic Ending

There is frustration and shock to this tragic ending with the deaths of Jack and Duncan Connolly. But, the boys’ mom did believe the worst could happen when she spoke to us two days after her boys went missing. That’s why she’s saying the judicial system failed her.

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This tragedy had all the familiar red flags with a history of violence, on-going litigation, threats and, of course, the demands for UNSUPERVISED VISITATION and MORE TIME with the children.

Any mother who has been in this situation where the marriage ended due to domestic violence, and there are children from the marriage should know that this is not uncommon. These tragedies have happened before, and there were warning signs in those cases too. In fact, there is a definite pattern of Maternal Deprivation as a continuation of domestic abuse, where the kids are either taken away from the mom in a custody battle, usually with claims by the abuser of “parental alienation”, or either the kids or the mother are killed - either way the mother/child bonds are severed as a continuation of domestic abuse.

In a recent tragedy in Australia, Darcey Freeman was thrown off a bridge by her father after the courts failed to listen to the warnings of her mother. For more on this see: Dad Throws Daughter, Darcey Freeman, Off Bridge

The Castillo case in Maryland was similar in that the mother’s warnings were not heeded, she was not even granted a permanent restraining order. The mom in that case, Amy Castill0, had been punished for not sending her children to visitation. Then she was forced to send her children to unsupervised visitation and their father drowned all three children in a bathtub. In that case, he made similar warnings to that it would be the worst thing he could do to kill her kids and have her live without them. Two evaluators in that case declared that the father was not dangerous. For more on this see this post: In battles for custody, children often pawns

In the Camacho case in Florida, a psychologist ignored warnings signs of domestic violence and death threats when protection could and should have been given. The mother had a protective order. The children had unsupervised visitation with their father. The father stabbed the daughter in the back, and then burned the house down, killing himself and the children. After the fact the doctor claimed he saw paranoia. See post: Doctor Saw Paranoia Before Fire

Why isn’t there any domestic violence protocol being implemented? (Could it be because backwards parental alienation theories of Richard Gardner’s are being used to blame mothers who try to protect their chidren?) How about lethality assessments in these cases? Why isn’t the information from studies on murder-suicides being used to prevent these tragedies? Certain characteristics of domestic abuse/violence, dependency, and depression have been shown to be common in these cases where the father who was a batterer kills either the mother, the children, or both, frequently followed by suicide. For more on this see: Will He Kill?

Hopefully, this will be used to stop the judicial system from allowing fraudulent theories that bash mothers, blame the victims from being used in the courts, and ban any and all ways that domestic violence victims are re-victimized. How many more will die before this terrible treatment of women and children in the courts finally ends?

The failure to help protect the children, and to help the mother protect the children didn’t end with the courts. The Leroy police failed to issue an Amber Alert for more than a day. Finally the sheriff’s department issued the alert. This is similar to the failure of the Colorado police department to help Jessica Gonzales when her children failed to be returned, and were killed by her ex-husband. She filed a complaint with the IACHR and had hearings on it in October of 2008. Unfortunatley, it seems that there have been no improvements for the human rights of women and children since her testimony. For more on this see: Jessica Gonzales v. USA 

Dead Boys’ Mom: My Heart is Broken Missing brothers, father found dead


Updated 5:47 PM CDT, Mon, Mar 30, 2009

The mother of two young boys found dead over the weekend said she feels the judicial system failed to protect her and her children.

Connolly Boys’ Mother: I Don’t Know What He’ll Do

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The two boys were reported missing in an Amber Alert earlier this month.

The bodies of the 9-year-old Duncan G. Connolly and his 7-year-old brother Jack D. Connolly, were found in the back seat of their father’s car in a secluded, remote area of Putman County, police said.  The body of their father, Michael Connolly, was found about 60 yards away.  At a news conference Monday afternoon, the Putnam County sheriff said they were found off Taylor Road, between Hennepin and Henry, Ill.

Authorities said the father apparently killed the boys in a double murder-suicide.

Michael Connolly was said to have been depressed, despondent and “unstable” when he disappeared with the boys following a custodial visit.

The boys’ mother and Michael Connolly’s ex-wife, Amy Leichtenberg, had said Connolly was scheduled to drop the boys off at the LeRoy Police Department on Sunday, March 8, but never showed up.  She had an order of protection against Michael Connolly because he had been abusive, she said.  Leichtenberg issued a statement that a friend read at the news conference, while choking back tears:

“My heart is broken and there are no words that express my pain. No parent should have to bury their babies. Duncan and Jack, Mommy loves you to the heavens and back. I feel that the judicial system failed me. I pray that the courts listen to the warnings from other parents like me. Thank you everyone for your prayers and support. The family respectfully requests that we have privacy as we cope with this horrible tragedy. Please keep our family and friends in your hearts and prayers.”

Leichtenberg had made numerous attempts to try to stop her ex-husband from having unsupervised visits with their children. And over the past several weeks, she told anyone who would listen that she felt her children’s lives were in jeopardy, and that her ex-husband was suicidal.

McLean County Sheriff Mike Emery was himself nearly overcome with emotion during the news conference Monday, pausing several times while he described the scene where the boys’ bodies were found.

“Today, Amy, her family, friends and many people are overwhelmed by sadness and pain,” Emery said. “That’s such a horrible crime that has been committed.”

After the Amber Alert was issued, a wave of support spread out over the Internet, with a lot of sites for missing children posting the Connolly story.  A Facebook group was created for the Connolly boys, where photos of them with their father and his car were posted.  On Monday, the Facebook group was filling up with comments of sympathy for the boys’ mother.

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The cause of death has not been released.  The McLean County Coroner’s Office was performing an autopsy Monday afternoon.

—end of article—

Sheriffs: Ill. boys, father died in murder-suicide

By DAVID MERCER – 3 hours ago

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (AP) — Two young boys missing for three weeks were found dead in the back seat of their father’s car, apparently killed by their dad before he took his own life, authorities said Monday.

A 911 call led authorities in Putnam County to a remote spot Sunday night where they found 9-year-old Duncan Connolly and his 7-year-old brother, Jack. They discovered the body of 40-year-old Michael Connolly about 60 yards away.

The boys, from the small town of Leroy, were the subject of a national search after their father failed to return them to their mother on March 8 following a weekend custody visit. The couple divorced in 2006 and Connolly only recently had been allowed to keep his sons overnight.

Autopsies were being conducted Monday, but McLean County Sheriff Mike Emery, whose department investigated the boys’ disappearance, and Putnam County Sheriff Kevin Doyle said the case was being treated as a double homicide-suicide.

Neither would discuss details of the case at a news conference Monday, including how the boys and their father died, how long they had been dead or why they ended up in a rural location about 60 miles north of where they lived. The sheriffs said they would respect the family’s wishes in withholding details.

“Our hearts and prayers now are with Jack, Duncan and (their mother) Amy Leichtenberg,” Emery said, his voice wavering.

Leichtenberg issued a statement expressing her own heartbreak.

“No parent should have to bury their babies,” she said. “Duncan and Jack, Mommy loves you to the heavens and back.”

Leichtenberg also blamed the courts for her sons’ deaths.

“I feel that the judicial system failed me,” she said, without elaborating. “I pray that the courts listen to the warnings from other parents like me.”

McLean County State’s Attorney Bill Yoder said he was unsure exactly what Leichtenberg was referring to, but that his office had recently filed four “criminal actions” against Connolly and his visitation rights had been under discussion.

Connolly was to have dropped the boys off at the police department in Leroy after picking them up there on March 6, Emery said.

A court order had barred Connolly from contact with Leichtenberg, according to her attorney, Helen Ogar. The order also initially prevented Connolly from seeing his sons.

Connolly was allowed to start keeping his children overnight without supervision in December, Ogar said.

Connolly never hurt Leichtenberg or their sons but scared her because he called often, sometimes threatening suicide and other times trying to intimidate her or persuade her to come back to him, Ogar said.

Police investigating the boys’ disappearance said Connolly had a history of gambling problems and had been treated for depression. He worked as a pharmaceutical sales representative, making a “good living,” Ogar said.

Before the weekend during which the boys disappeared, Leichtenberg did not want to turn them over to their father, her lawyer said.

She was contacted by the Leroy police and told that she had to send them, that it was an arrestable offense (if she did not),” Ogar said.

She said she told Leichtenberg that failure to give the boys to their father was a civil matter, not criminal, and advised her not to turn them over if she didn’t want to.

Authorities did not issue an Amber Alert in the case until the evening of March 8, roughly a day after they were due back to their mother. Leroy police did not issue the alert — eventually issued by the McLean County Sheriff’s Department — because they did not believe the boys were in danger, Ogar said.

An officer who answered the phone at the Leroy Police Department on Monday directed questions to Chief Gordon Beck, who he said was out of town.

Attorney Todd Roseberry, who represented Connolly over violations of the court order barring contact with Leichtenberg, said he was stunned by the three deaths.

“The Michael Connolly I knew was very affectionate and loved his kids,” Roseberry said, adding that he hadn’t spoken with Connolly since last summer.

A spokesman for Leichtenberg said Monday that if she ever doubted her sons would come home, she didn’t show it.

“I spoke to her last evening. She was in downtown Davenport, Iowa, handing out fliers and putting up posters,” family friend Brad MacAfee said. “Every interaction I had with her, she had all the hope in the world she was going to see those boys.”

—end of article—