Friday, June 21, 2013

Dad fatally shoots 8-year-old daughter, mom; despite extensive history of violence, still had visitation rights with the kids (Louisville, Kentucky)

Mom knew very well how dangerous dad GARY W. STEWART JR. could be. He had threatened to kill her before, he had battered her before. She had even managed to take out of orders of protection against him. I can't even summarize his extensive criminal history here. You can see the highlights below. 

So the guy was EXTREMELY crazy and violent. And contrary to Daddy's nitwit attorney, there were tons of red flags that this guy was a homicidal risk. What else is new. There are lots of abusive nut jobs in this world. Not all of them become killers.

The real problems were two:

1) The criminal justice system never really held the father accountable for anything he did. Most charges were dismissed or treated with a slap on the wrist. Even the ones not involving threats or violence against the mother. Is it any surprise that she stopped showing up in court? The outcome was already clear. I also wonder if the sheriff's office even took his weapons away as ordered. I doubt it. 

The end result of judicial coddling is that abusers grow even more entitled and cocky. They know they can get away with any sh** they do, and all they'll get is a wink. So their violence accelerates over time.

Combine that with a second problem.

2) This sh** still had weekend visitation with the kids!!! Mom was REQUIRED to interact with this dangerous lunatic on a regular basis. He even had "scheduled visits" when the order of protection was in place!

We have seen over and over again what happens when mothers are FORCED to interact with men who have threatened to kill them and have assaulted them before. People are eventually killed. Exactly what we saw here. Contrary to the family friend's denial, this is a VERY TYPICAL setup for a family annihilator. An abuser who gets a wink from law enforcement, where the victims can never truly get away from him  because of the courts insist that a homicidal maniac stay "involved." And not only that, mothers are pressured into "cooperating" and encouraging that involvement. 

And of course, by going off with the crazy daddy for a visit, they inadvertently set themselves up for the slaughter. 

Both judicial indifference to violence against women and children and abuser "rights" to kids are KEY TENETS OF THE FATHERS RIGHTS MOVEMENT. It's their movement that has created a climate where mere abusive crazies are "nurtured" into mass killers. Congratulations, boys. This one is on you.

Louisville man who fatally shot mother and daughter had violent history

Jun. 20, 2013 9:48 PM

Written by Antoinette Konz, Andrew Wolfson and Mark Boxley
The Courier-Journal

A Louisville man who fatally shot his ex-girlfriend and their 8-year-old daughter before killing himself had a history of violence against women and had been “in and out of mental institutions,” according to court documents and the victims’ family.

Shortly after noon Wednesday, Gary W. Stewart Jr., 40, of the 2600 block of Delor Avenue, showed up with his mother at the home that his 36-year-old ex-girlfriend, Jillian Wood, shared with her twin sister, Jocelyn Wood, off Bardstown Road, saying he wanted to take his daughter and son swimming at his uncle’s condominium.

Jocelyn Wood said her sister and Stewart had a turbulent past, including protective orders Jillian had taken out against him, but the two recently had tried to work together in parenting their two children — 8-year-old Shelbi and 13-year-old Gary Jr.

“Jillian went with (them) because she wanted to make sure the kids would be OK,” Jocelyn Wood said in an interview Thursday. “She whispered to me on the way out to call her in a few hours because she would likely need a ride back home. I tried calling her several times ... but she never picked up.” 

Louisville Metro Police Lt. Todd Kessinger said that at approximately 4:22 p.m. Wednesday, in his uncle’s condominium complex on Gardiner Lane, Gary Stewart shot Jillian Wood with a gun he had brought with him, then shot his daughter, before shooting his mother when she tried to stop him. He then fatally shot himself.

 “(The coroner) said (Jillian) didn’t have time to fight because he shot her three times in the chest, and then he went to my niece and he shot her in the head,” Elizabeth Wood, a sister of Jillian and Jocelyn Wood, said in an interview. “And then he shot his mom. Little Gary got away, and I thank God that he got away.”

Elizabeth Wood said that 13-year-old Gary told family members after that his father asked the children if they wanted to “die fast or die slow” and the boy said Shelbi responded, “she wanted to die fast.” 

Stewart’s mother, whose name has not been released, remained in critical condition at University of Louisville Hospital Thursday evening.

Stewart’s uncle and son, Gary Jr., were also in the second-floor condominium but escaped, said Kessinger, who said the shootings appeared to be “premeditated.”

“We don't know exactly what made the situation erupt,” Kessinger said.

Wood said Stewart was “very unstable” and has been “in and out of mental institutions.”

“I think when he came over yesterday afternoon, he had the intent of killing them all,” said Elizabeth Wood, fighting back tears.

Elizabeth Wood said the boy, who is in the temporary custody of Jocelyn Wood, saw his mother shot before escaping to the pool area, where he frantically asked someone to call police. She said the teen told them that his parents had been arguing over Gary Stewart’s visits to his children.

“The kids didn’t want to go over and see him as often because they started seeing how he really was,” she said.

Jocelyn Wood said she and her twin sister were “very close.”

“We always said it was us against the world,” Jocelyn Wood said, tears flowing down her face. “She was everything to me. And her kids are like my kids, we were always doing things together. We were one big family.”

History of violence

Gary W. Stewart Jr., 40, had a history of violence against women, including against Jillian Wood.

 “I am terrified he will seriously kill me to get me out of the way,” she said in a petition for a protective order in 2010.

In that case, Wood said in a criminal complaint that Stewart threatened to shoot her, and in another case the next year, Stewart assaulted another woman — a stranger — for no apparent reason in the emergency room waiting area at University of Louisville Hospital.

In the first case, Wood alleged that after she refused to tell Stewart where she was living, he threatened to find her and “put a bullet in your head and leave you in a ditch where nobody will find you.”

Wood said she had picked up her children at basketball practice, where Stewart was an assistant coach, said she drove away with her sister Jocelyn and the two children in her car and that Stewart “followed her every move” for 35 minutes until she managed to elude him. 

He was charged with terroristic threatening, menacing and stalking, but the charges were dismissed when Wood failed to appear twice in court.

Stewart’s lawyer in the case, Steve Schroering, said his client’s conduct in court raised no red flags. 

“There was nothing that suggested that anything like this would happen,” Schroering said. “He was always pleasant and respectful to me.”

Jillian Wood took out a domestic-violence order against him in February 2010, making the same allegations as in the criminal case. She also charged that he had put a gun to her head and cocked it in 2001.

 The order, which expired Feb. 2, 2013, required him to stay away from her and the children, except on scheduled visits at a fast-food restaurant, and to not possess a firearm.

Jillian Wood said in the order that Stewart was angry because he was at risk of going to jail for failing to pay child support, and that two months earlier he had asked a family member to kill her.

She said Stewart treated their daughter “like a princess” and their son “like he is in the army.” She also said he also had killed animals and told the children about it.

Jefferson District Judge Angela Bisig ordered the sheriff’s office to store and retain Stewart’s firearms while the protective order was in effect.

Assaulting a stranger

In the emergency room case, Stewart was convicted of assaulting a 19-year-old woman, Nikkole L. Morris, in September 2011 in the hospital waiting room.

A warrant said Stewart stood up and started striking Morris in the face, then began fighting with security officers who came to her aid. She was treated for swelling to her face and a black eye, and he was placed in the hospital’s psychiatric ward.

He later was evaluated for mental competency at Central State Hospital, but both sides agreed he was competent and he pleaded guilty.

Attorney Stephen Berry, who defended him in that case, said Stewart “went crazy” in the hospital and had no recollection of what he had done. Berry said that Stewart was a nice man “when he was on his meds.”

Judge Donald Armstrong sentenced Stewart to 365 days in jail. He was given credit for 33 days he had spent in jail and placed on home incarceration for 60 days.

The balance of the sentence was conditionally discharged for two years. Armstrong also ordered him to undergo treatment at Seven Counties.

Stewart had other charges for drunk driving, moving violations and fleeing from police. Most were dismissed.

In a series of Facebook posts in December on a page that a friend confirmed was his, Stewart expressed concerns about children, including his own, and violence.

In one, he wrote, “Enjoy today and hav (sic) love for children they are our future and we let them play killing games and toy guns as adults the whole nations (sic) is retard.

In another he said, “My own daughter was stalked by a known child sex abuser and by a vision from god I was able to stop it and save my child.”

Hard times

Sue Strothman, Gary Stewart’s neighbor of Stewart's on Delor Avenue, said she has known the family for about three years.

She said Stewart was living with his mother and his two children would visit on the weekends

Strothman said she thought of Gary Stewart as a father who cared about his children, but he was unemployed and experiencing other problems, including the recent death of his sister from cancer, and his mother told her that she wanted him to find another place to live.

“I never dreamed Gary was that sick to do something like that,” Strothman said. “I don’t know why people who are that sick kill not only themselves, but their children.”

She worried about the affect of the deaths on his 13-year-old son.

“Little Gary lost his dad, sister and mother,” Strothman said. “He’ll need a lot of counseling, but I don’t know if he will ever get over it.”

 'Daddy's girl'

Jocelyn Wood said Shelbi had just finished third grade at Price Elementary School and was looking forward to celebrating her ninth birthday on July 18. Both Jocelyn and Elizabeth Wood described Shelbi as a “daddy’s girl.”

“She was a typical little girl who loved getting her nails done and her hair done — she couldn’t wait to be a teenager,” Jocelyn Wood said. “And she always had a smile on her face, every picture you see of her, she’s smiling.”

And Shelbi loved her big brother.

“They were very, very close,” Elizabth Wood said, pausing. “Little Gary is really having a terrible time, thinking about what he could have done differently to save his sister ... we’re going to have to get him a lot of counseling. There are a lot of things we’re going to have to do now that I never thought we would have to do.”

In addition to her son, Jillian Wood is also survived by her mother, Jacqueline Wood of Lake City, Fla., six sisters and three brothers.

Elizabeth Wood said she and her siblings always joked about the “nine of us being a baseball team.”

“Now we are a player short,” she said.

Jillian Wood did not have life insurance and the family doesn’t know how they are going to bury their loved ones.

“I live paycheck to paycheck and don’t have the money to bury them,” Jocelyn Wood said. “The county said they could bury them, but that they wouldn’t be able to be buried together and the thought of that just tears me apart.”

 Reporter Zahra Farah contributed to this report.