Boyfriend EDGARD ANZIANI was babysitting his girlfriend's 15-month-old son when she had to go to the hospital emergency room with severe abdominal pain. While she was away, the boyfriend "allegedly" beat the boy to death, and has been charged with murder. The boyfriend says the child fell down the stairs.
Oh, but that's a BOYFRIEND you say. Not a FATHER. Well, check this out. The FBI claims that back in 2004, Anziani severely beat his own 4-year-old SON. And you know how Daddy tried to slick out of it then? HE CLAIMED THE BOY FELL DOWN THE STAIRS.
This brave grieving mother is now hoping to start a foundation to help other single mothers get out of abusive relationships. Note that her oldest son lives with his father, but the mother is evasive about any details. I won't venture to say anything about this as an individual case, since I don't know anything about it.
Suffice it to say that research shows that abusive fathers are very often successful in achieving their custodial goals. Here's one such study from Massachusetts:
Abrams, R., & Greaney, J. (1989). Report of the Gender Bias Study of the Supreme Judicial Court [of Massachusetts ], 62-63.
Gender Bias Study of the Court System in Massachusetts, 24 New Eng. L. Rev. 745, 747, 825, 846 (1990).
Massachusetts was one of the first states to document the gender bias against women in family courts. This court-initiated study expressly found that "our research contradicted [the] perception" that "there is a bias in favor of women in these decisions." Moreover, it found that "in determining custody and visitation, many judges and family service officers do not consider violence toward women relevant." The Court's study further found that "the courts are demanding more of mothers than fathers in custody disputes" and that "many courts put the needs of noncustodial fathers above those of custodial mothers and children."
A mother's pain
Cheryl Metzger grieves over the loss of her son
By Nok-Noi Ricker
BANGOR, Maine — Cheryl Metzger sleeps with a teddy bear clothed in a sweatshirt once worn by her son.
Her 15-month-old boy, Damien Christopher Lynn, was killed last week while she was in the hospital.
The 22-year-old Bangor mother sat in a coffee shop Friday and said she’ll never forgive herself for allowing Edgard Anziani, 27, of Lawrence, Mass., into her and her son’s life. Bangor police charged Anziani with murder on Feb. 25 after an autopsy showed Damien Lynn had broken bones and ribs, head and abdominal injuries, and a human bite mark on his right arm.
“Every night, I lay down and I think of what he did to my boy, and I can’t sleep,” Metzger said, unable to stop her tears.
“I let him in my house,” she said as she slowly shredded a napkin. “I trusted him.”
Anziani told police, Metzger and her family that her son was injured in the early morning hours of Feb. 23 when he fell down a flight of stairs at Metzger’s Bald Mountain Drive apartment. She said she since has learned from an FBI agent that Anziani previously had beaten his own 4-year-old son and had claimed his boy had fallen down stairs. An affidavit filed in U.S. District Court in Bangor and written by FBI Special Agent James McCarty states, “Anziani had severely beaten [his son] in 2004 to the point where [his son] was admitted to the hospital and … still has complications resulting from that incident.”
The court document states that the mother of his son who lives in Lawrence, Mass., told the FBI agent that Anziani told her that “he was getting accused of the same thing.”
Neither FBI nor Bangor police officials could say Friday whether Anziani was ever charged or convicted in connection with his son’s injuries in 2004.
Maine medical examiner Dr. Marguerite DeWitt, who conducted Damien Lynn’s autopsy, determined that the boy’s injuries “could not be explained by a simple fall down six or seven steps.”
Until details about her son’s injuries were made public two days after his death, Metzger said she and her family believed Anziani’s explanation of what happened.
“All we knew was that [Damien] fell down the stairs,” she said. “That’s what we all believed because we didn’t know of any of the other injuries.”
For two days after the boy’s death, Anziani “was very quiet and constantly crying,” Metzger said. Then, on Feb. 25, a few hours before Bangor police issued an arrest warrant charging him with murder, he left Bangor, saying, “I’ll be back next week,” Metzger said.
The murder suspect made it as far as Bladensburg, Md., before being caught by the FBI on Monday.
“I never thought this could happen,” Metzger said. “It’s something you see on TV.”
How they met
Metzger met the man accused of taking the life of her son while visiting an ex-boyfriend who worked at a local manufacturing facility.
While visiting the plant, “I saw Ed a couple of times working,” she said. “That’s why I kind of thought he was a safe guy. Then he hit me up on MySpace.”
That was in November. Shortly after talking back and forth through the social networking site, the two met in person and became a couple.
“I wish I had never met him,” Metzger said. “He came off respectful, a gentleman. He came off like he actually cared and treated my son so good.”
After he was laid off from his job in January, Anziani returned home to Lawrence, Mass., but would come back to Bangor for three- or four-day visits every couple of weeks.
The only warning sign that Metzger recognized was Anziani’s intense jealousy.
“He had this way of twisting things, manipulating you,” she said.
He may have tried to control her, but “he never put his hands on me or raised his voice to me,” she said. “He even fooled my family.”
Metzger went to Massachusetts to get Anziani on Feb. 22 and returned home around 11:30 p.m. Damien, who had been cared for all day by a baby sitter, was asleep in his crib when Metzger and Anziani arrived, according to the affidavit. Metzger said she went in to check on the baby and “he was fine.”
A couple of hours later, Metzger started having severe abdominal pains and went to the emergency room. She said she has had abdominal problems before and that the ride to Massachusetts and back may have aggravated her condition.
“My baby was sleeping, and I didn’t want to get him out of bed,” so she left him with Anziani, she said. “I beat myself up every day. I wish I never went to the hospital, that I never let him in my house.”
Metzger said that as she lay in the emergency room at St. Joseph Hospital, her mother’s instinct kicked into gear and woke her up at around 4:30 a.m.
“I got this really bad heartache, and I couldn’t even describe it,” Metzger said. “Something didn’t feel right. I called my mom,” who called Anziani to check on him and her grandson.
“Damien was asleep at the time,” Anziani told Metzger’s mother, the affidavit states.
The baby sitter and a neighbor, who saw the child on Monday afternoon, and the boy's mother all reported to police that there were no bruises or marks on the child the last time they saw him.
Only Anziani knows the details of what happened in the hours between when Metzger left the apartment around 2:30 a.m. and when the emergency 911 call was made at 7 a.m.
“I know he got on my computer and he was on my Facebook” page, uploading photos of himself around 4:20 a.m., Metzger said. “Maybe he just saw something [he didn’t like] and it made him take it out on my baby.”
When paramedics arrived at Metzger’s apartment at 55 Bald Mountain Drive, Anziani met the ambulance and crew in the driveway and handed them the toddler who was “blue and not breathing,” according to court documents. Damien Lynn was pronounced dead at Eastern Maine Medical Center an hour later, just minutes after Metzger arrived.
“They wouldn’t let me see him,” she said. “I had to wait until after the autopsy.”
Even though police and FBI agents have been forthcoming, Metzger said, “I still don’t know the whole story.”
Metzger said that what she does know is that her son didn’t deserve what happened to him.
“I loved his laugh. I loved his smile and his gorgeous bright blue eyes,” she said. “He really was an angel.”
Damien Lynn’s funeral was held Tuesday. His ashes are being put in keepsake memorial jewelry for his mother and his father, Patrick Lynn, who lives in Georgia, and other family members and friends.
Patrick Lynn and Metzger had two children together. Their oldest child, Isiah Lynn, 3, has lived with his father for about six months. The two “just grew apart” about a year ago, she said, but are still friends.
Their youngest loved to look at himself in the mirror, to dance, to play ball and to make people around him smile.
He was lovingly called “Dbug” by his parents and had just learned to say “Mum ma.”
“I actually have a recording on my phone of him,” Metzger said. “He’s just sitting there saying da-da, da-da. I recorded it to send it to Pat because every time he got on the phone [with his dad], he would just sit there and smile.”
On Friday, she pulled out her green cell phone and displayed several photos of Damien Lynn in a red firefighter’s hat, dancing in front of a mirror with a huge smile on his face.
“I don’t have as many pictures as I want,” she said, the sadness obvious in her voice. “He was such a good boy. He was such a blessing. He was that kind of baby.”
The sky in Bangor was overcast most of the week after Damien’s death, but on the day of the funeral, “the sky opened up and the sun came down,” Metzger said. “It’s like they opened the gates of heaven for him.”
Metzger has been staying out of town with her sister since her son’s death, but returned to her apartment before the funeral to get items for Damien that she placed in his coffin. Once inside the apartment, she was overwhelmed by her feelings.
“I immediately had to leave,” she said. “It felt like hell.”
Her family is going to clean out the apartment for her.
“I kept his fireman’s hat, a teddy bear and a winter hat he had,” Metzger said.
The items have been placed in a makeshift memorial on a stand by her bed with a picture of her son and a candle that she lights each morning and at night. The young mother says she wants to start a foundation in her son’s name to help single mothers get out of abusive relationships or abusive homes.
“No child should have to go through that,” she said.
“This really opens up your eyes that there are monsters out there,” she added.
Bangor police detectives plan to leave the city on Monday for the trip to Bladensburg, Md., where they will take custody of Anziani and bring him back to Maine to face the charges against him.
As with most murder cases, his trial is not expected to begin for at least a year.
“I’ll be there from the first hearing to the end,” Metzger said. “I’ll be there for my boy. I need to have that closure and see [Anziani] go away for life.”
A candlelight vigil in memory of Damien Lynn is scheduled for 7 p.m. Tuesday, March 9, at Cascade Park in Bangor.