Tuesday, January 18, 2011

System failed mom, 5-year-old daughter in custody battle; now dad charged with homicide in child's death (West Monroe, Louisiana)

Funny how fathers righters are always hyping how MOMS are the false accusers/liars/alienators regarding child abuse and domestic violence. Fathers, by implication, always tell the truth and never try to manipulate the system to get custody. Well, here's a case to show how false those fathers rights assumptions are. And how those assumptions--now widely parroted by those in the "system"-- are literally proving fatal.

After a "nasty child custody battle," Dad WESLEY LOWE was finally awarded weekend visitation with his 5-year-old daughter--but that apparently wasn't enough power and control for him. (It often isn't for aggressive father litigants.) When Mom tried to pick up the child one Sunday night, Daddy primly announced that the child wasn't going back to Mom, as he had filed a temporary restraining order against her and had contacted CPS. Although Daddy had contempt charges against him, Mom was unable to go to court to defend herself because the judges kept signing off on the time extensions for the restraining order with no apparent questioning of the evidence and/or the father's motives. And the fathers rights people claim that daddies can't get these things and that moms get them like candy...not even close.

And then finally, the child shows up at the hospital dead. Apparently beaten to death. The child had already been dead some two hours before Daddy and the step managed to get her to the hospital. Wow, that's loving parental concern....

We posted on this case before, when all we knew was that a dad and a step had been arrested in the death of a child. Kudos to reporter Loresha Wilson for getting to the bottom of this issue. Very often when a child is abused or killed by a father who is separated or divorced from the mother, there's a history of court and/or CPS incompetence and/or corruption behind it--just as we see here. Only no one looks into it. Some RED FLAGS that were immediately apparent to me in this case. Why weren't they apparent to those in authority?

1) Daddy apparently had a past CPS "run in" in Nebraska regarding a domestic battery arrest. No Louisiana authorities bothered to do the research on this sort of thing or did they just not care? The step certainly knew--Daddy used that as an excuse for why the girl couldn't get immediate medical care. His own @$$ over his daughter's well being. What does that tell you?

2) Notice that these Daddy and the step were also arrested for some heavy duty drug possession (Oxycodone and Darvocet). And nobody in authority knew about that either? Nobody at CPS who worked with Daddy on this case even suspected drug abuse? Don't they supposedly have training in that sort of thing? Nobody thought that a drug addiction might indicate something important about Daddy's credibility in this case?

3) Notice that Daddy's prior history in terms of this child was as an every-other-weekend father who rarely paid child support. I'm not seeing this as evidence of a father who was truly involved in the child's life in a healthy way. When a father like this suddenly demands custody and refuses to return the child to the mother, there is definitely reason to suspect his motives. ESPECIALLY when the same guy has a history of domestic violence and drug abuse.

WHO ARE THE JUDGES WHO KEPT SIGNING OFF ON DADDY'S RESTRAINING ORDERS? LET'S SEE THE NAMES. And the names of the CPS idiots who went along with this fiasco.


Father, stepmother charged in child's death
5-year-old's mother says system failed her in child custody battle

By Loresha Wilson • ljwilson@gannett.com • January 15, 2011

A West Monroe mother is blaming the system for failing her in a child custody battle, and now her 5-year-old daughter is dead.

The child's father, an Elm Grove man, and the child's stepmother have been arrested and face charges in connection with Thursday's death of Anna Celeste Lowe.

Wesley D. Lowe, 32, and the girl's stepmother, 34-year-old Catherine M. Lowe, were arrested by Bossier Parish deputies around 2 a.m. Friday after results from the child's autopsy revealed she died as a result of internal injuries and bleeding, authorities said.

"She received serious injuries to the abdominal cavity," said Bossier Parish Coroner John Chandler during a news conference. "The child's body did have multiple bruises of multiple stages."

The child's mother, Jamie Mercer, a West Monroe resident, said she met Wesley Lowe in Arcadia on Sept. 24 to drop off the child with her father for the weekend.

"I called him Sunday (Sept. 26) to find out when I needed to come pick her up," Mercer said. "He told me I couldn't and said Celeste couldn't come back with me."

Mercer learned Wesley Lowe had filed a temporary restraining order against her and said he also contacted Child Protective Services on her. However, she said Lowe had no basis for his actions.

"He has contempt charges in Ouachita Parish," Mercer said. She said every time she tried to meet with Wesley Lowe in court in order to get custody of her daughter, he would extend the time period of the restraining order.

"And the judges just kept signing them," Mercer said. "They didn't even look into it or try to find out why."

Investigators still are trying to determine how the injuries occurred. The couple gave contradictory statements and said they thought her continuous vomiting and extreme abdominal pain were the result of a common stomach virus.

Anna Celeste Lowe was pronounced dead upon arrival at WK Pierremont Health Center in Shreveport. The couple took her to the emergency room about 9:30 a.m., and the staff determined the child had been dead about two hours, said Doyle Dempsey, Bossier undersheriff. The hospital staff noticed rigor mortis present in the victim's face and bruising and trauma over her entire body.

"There are two individuals that know what happened to this child, and they are not telling," Dempsey said. "We continue to investigate, and most likely the charges will be upgraded."

Wesley and Catherine Lowe each are charged with negligent homicide for their failure to take Celeste to the hospital in a timely manner. They also are charged with possession of Oxycodone and possession of Darvocet.

Based on information from the child's step-siblings, authorities believe Celeste was injured sometime Wednesday afternoon. Catherine Lowe's children, now in state custody, were home at the time but don't know what happened, Dempsey said.

Catherine Lowe told investigators she contacted her husband about 1 a.m. Thursday expressing concern for the child and the need to get her medical attention. Wesley Lowe advised his wife not to take the child to the hospital because of his prior run-in with Child Protective Services related to a domestic battery arrest in Nebraska, Dempsey said.

Instead, Catherine Lowe took the victim to work with her about 7:30 a.m. Thursday and the woman's co-workers told her the child needed immediate medical attention.

"We talked with the co-workers, and they said the child was mumbling and was responsive, but they could tell she was in pain," Dempsey said. "They could tell she needed to go to the hospital."
Chandler described the child's condition as critical at that time and says she could have possibly survived her injuries with the proper medical attention.

Mercer said she was allowed to attend the State Fair of Louisiana with Celeste in Shreveport on Oct. 30.

"She asked me, 'Are you going to take me home, Mommy?'" Mercer said. She said Lowe's restraining order prevented that.

"I asked my attorney what would happen if I took Celeste and just went home," Mercer said. "He told me police would be at my house."

Mercer said she last saw her daughter at Walmart in West Monroe shortly after Christmas.
"I was there with my other children and (Catherine Lowe, Wesley Lowe and Celeste) rounded a corner and there they were," Mercer said. "When they saw us, Cat just picked her up and started walking out the door."

Because of the restraining order, Mercer said she could not follow her daughter.

"She turned around and watched me while being carried out," Mercer said, her voice wavering. "She had this look in her eyes, which were huge, like she was thinking, 'Why aren't you coming after me?'"

Mercer said her other children talked to Celeste and told her she was crying.
"She wanted to come home," Mercer said. "(Lowe) had no reason to take my child like that."

Dempsey said authorities hope to upgrade the charges to first-degree murder once they determine the cause of the injuries.

"Any time there is a death, it's a tragedy," Dempsey said. "But when you have an innocent child, it makes our job more difficult."

Mercer said Wesley Lowe rarely paid the child support he owed her.

"He's only ever been an every-other-weekend dad," Mercer said. She said Friday's date, Jan. 14, was ironic because she expected to get back custody of her daughter that day.

Neighbor Robin Foster, who lives across the street from the Lowes, said Mercer and Wesley Lowe were going through a "nasty custody battle" for Celeste.

Foster, 21, learned about the child's death when she arrived from school Thursday. She watched as investigators removed evidence from the couple's residence and Wesley Lowe's truck was impounded.

Foster recalled watching Celeste run to her school bus Tuesday morning.

"I don't know what could have happened because Tuesday the little girl seem perfectly healthy," the neighbor said. "They always seemed so happy, and we'd see the kids outside playing. Wesley would be outside playing with them sometimes.

"That's why it was so shocking when I heard about."

Mercer thinks her fight is not yet over, as Lowe and his mother both want Celeste to be buried in Bossier.

"She has no family over there," Mercer said. "Her family is here." She said she is worried her daughter will not be brought to Ouachita Parish until Tuesday.

Mercer said the outpouring of support for her at this time has been tremendous.

"I haven't even checked my Facebook page," Mercer said. "I've been getting calls and e-mails like crazy all day." She said she had no life insurance on Celeste, but a local store provided a dress for her daughter to be buried in.

"It's been very overwhelming," Mercer said.

Mercer said the child custody system in Louisiana failed her and her daughter.

"The system didn't do its job," Mercer said, holding back tears. "They just kept letting (Wesley) extend the time of the restraining order and took his word for everything."

Funeral arrangements for Anna Celeste Lowe are incomplete, under the supervision of Mulhearn Funeral Homes in West Monroe.