I was sorting through all the email I've accumulated over, ahem, the past few years, when I found this item. I have posted the links, though they no longer work.
This case is so typical of the risks that mothers face in trying to get away from an abuser. Ignorant people are always asking moms, "well, why didn't you just leave?" As it turned out, the only way this mother could leave JASON KARLO JACOB ANDERSON, the father of her two children and a drug trafficker wanted on federal charges, was to escape on her own when the opportunity presented itself, and try to retrieve the children later. This woman states that this man regularly beat her and held a gun to her head. As soon as she was able, she contacted federal marshalls to help track this guy down and get her kids into safety. She warned them about how volatile he was, but like many battered women, she found her word was discounted and ignored. When the marshalls tried to arrest him at the Homer, Alaska airport, a gun fight broke out (just as Mom had predicted) which lead to the 2-year-old son getting shot in the head. Despite the fact that this situation was precipitated by a violent father and incompetent federal authorities who were willfully ignorant about domestic violence (and condescending towards women), it's MOM who is being punished by child protective services for "abandoning" the kids. Even though in her situation, escaping on her own was the only way she could obtain safety for all of them, since Dad never left her alone with the kids and had threatened to murder them if she ever called the police.
Girlfriend warned marshals of danger
Wounded boy's mother says she knew father could erupt; troopers investigate
By TOM KIZZIA
Anchorage Daily News
(Published: March 3, 2006)
HOMER -- A Minnesota fugitive wanted on drug charges pulled a handgun during an attempted arrest at the Homer airport Wednesday, touching off a gunfight that left him dead in the parking lot, Alaska State Troopers said. His two-year-old son remained in critical condition Thursday night from a bullet through the head.
Troopers are investigating the shootout involving U.S. marshals and Homer police outside the airport terminal, which was crowded with high-schoolers and their parents.
Jason Karlo Jacob Anderson, 31, of Duluth, Minn., had been living under an alias in Alaska with his girlfriend and their two small children for nearly a year, according to the girlfriend. He was wanted on federal drug trafficking charges involving methamphetamines and cocaine.
Two-year-old Jason Anderson II was under intensive care at Providence Hospital Thursday after being flown to Anchorage for surgery, according to his mother, Cherry Dietzmann.
The boy was shot while sitting in a car seat in the back of his father's rented Jeep, she said. The bullet entered the back of his head and exited through his face, destroying an eye. Doctors gave him only a small chance of survival, she said.
"They should have just backed off and waited for a new opportunity to catch him," said Dietzmann, 20, who described fleeing from Anderson repeatedly because of physical abuse. In the end, she helped federal marshals track him down. "I told them if you do it this way, he's going to freak and people are going to be hurt. They didn't take me seriously."
Her daughter, 6-month-old Darla, in a baby car seat, was not harmed in the shooting. Dietzmann was in Anchorage at the time of the shooting, having sneaked away from Anderson days earlier and left the children with him.
On Thursday, Dietzmann spent much of the day at Providence. She said her son, Jason, was heavily sedated and on life support. "His heart rate speeds up when I touch him and talk to him," she said.
State child protection services have taken custody of the two children, she said. Darla is in a foster home on the Kenai Peninsula, Dietzmann said -- that's all she knows. She said a custody hearing has been scheduled for today.
State officials would say only that the case is still under investigation, citing privacy laws.
Dietzmann was upset and angry. She said state workers told her she was an unfit mother for abandoning her children with a dangerous man.
"I tried to tell them I was working with the U.S. marshals to get my kids back," she said. "I tried to explain he was beating me and putting guns to my face. The marshals agreed with me, they said I was doing the right thing to get away and tell them."
But after she had worked closely with the marshals for days, Dietzmann said, they suddenly stopped talking to her after the shootout. She said she feels trapped, with no one to support her decision to leave her violent partner.
"They shot my child. Why won't they talk to me?" she said.
Investigators working with Dietzmann had tracked Anderson under his alias to the Homer area this week. He was lured to the Homer airport Wednesday night, supposedly to change out a rental Jeep with a broken windshield.
Plainclothes officers with the federal marshal's office and Homer police were waiting in the terminal and planned to stun him with a Taser gun when he went to the rental counter, according to the rental agent involved in the plan.
As it happened, the terminal was filled with high school choir members and their parents preparing to fly out on a trip to Italy. Anderson pulled up in the rental lot about 100 feet from the small terminal and called the agent on his cell phone, asking him to bring out the keys for the new car because he had his children with him.
Law enforcement officers in the parking lot then drove up behind and in front of the black Jeep. Anderson pulled a gun and shooting started, troopers said. Three Homer police officers and a federal marshal were involved. The three Homer officers have been placed on a minimum three-day administrative leave, the troopers said.
Anderson was indicted on the drug charges late last year by a federal grand jury in Minnesota. Three others, including a brother and uncle of Cherry Dietzmann, were also charged in the indictment. The other three were arrested and remain in jail or are free on bail.
By the time of the indictment, Anderson was living in Anchorage under the assumed identity of another Dietzmann brother, Brandon. Cherry Dietzmann said Anderson had stolen her brother's birth certificate on a visit.
She said she had nothing to do with his criminal activities. An aunt in Duluth, Colleen Murray, backed her up Thursday.
"I think the only reason she stayed with him was the babies," Murray said. "Pregnant at 17, and that's the way it goes."
Darla, the baby, was born last September in Anchorage, Dietzmann said.
Dietzmann described Anderson as "controlling, abusive and violent." A tattoo artist who spent time in prison, he beat her often but did not physically hurt the kids, she said.
"He was actually a good dad in a lot of ways," she said. "I wanted him to go to jail, not to die."
Anderson would hold tightly to the children as a way to control her, she said.
"He would never let me go anywhere with the kids. Nev-er," she said.
She tried to escape several times, she said, calling him and threatening to report his whereabouts to police if he didn't give her the children.
"He'd say, 'If you call the cops, I'm killing the kids.' Then I'd come back," she said. "I was totally stuck. I was completely, just utterly stuck."
Several months ago, she said, a neighbor called police after Anderson beat her. She said that when Anchorage police arrived, Anderson pointed a gun at her ankles while she stood at the door and told them she was all right. That night, she said, guessing (correctly) that she was going to leave again, he woke the family in the middle of the night and drove off in a loaded car to the Kenai Peninsula, where they settled in Sterling and then Soldotna.
Early last week, she said, she slipped away again. Federal marshals soon got in touch, she said. The U.S. marshal's office said they were tipped off by information from Minnesota.
"I told them everything," she said. "I told them if you do it this way, it's going to go good. If you do it this way, it's going to go bad. They did everything wrong."
Randy Johnson, U.S. Marshal for the Alaska district, confirmed Thursday that Dietzmann had been cooperating with his agency. Because she was essentially a victim of the shootout, the federal agents cannot get in direct contact with her during the state troopers investigation, Johnson said. He said marshals were talking to state child protection officers and sorting through a complex set of protective regulations.
But Johnson said he was assigning a deputy to help Dietzmann.
"We want to do whatever we could to help that young lady," he said. "We want to help her get the kids where she wants them to be."