Florida dad threatened mom, killed son; help came too late
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) — Court records show that a father who killed his 4-year-old son and himself had sent numerous threatening texts to the boy’s mother and put a tracking device on her car in the days leading up to the deaths. She sought help from authorities, but it came too late.
The South Florida SunSentinel reports that court documents released Monday show John Michael Stacey, 47, threatening and stalking Alison Kessler in the days before he shot their son, Greyson Kessler, and himself during a visitation at his home.
Their bodies were found late Friday by police, hours after Alison Kessler had gone to court asking a judge to order an emergency pick up of her son. Fort Lauderdale police say that was probably already too late, with evidence indicating the shootings happened Thursday.
According to records filed by Kessler, Stacey sent her several threatening text messages, including one last week that said, “You deserve to have your head separated from your body. But I am not the violent type. God will deal with you.”
But Stacey also tried to sway Kessler into creating a family, texting, “I want home. I want a yard. I want a dog. I won’t find anyone better than you, and you have my son.”
Kessler went to police last week after finding a GPS tracking device attached to the bottom of her car. Stacey had indicated in his texts that he knew her whereabouts, including a trip to the courthouse. The officer she spoke with recommended she seek a restraining order.
After Kessler’s discovery, Stacey stopped communicating with her, and her lawyer went to court seeking the emergency pick up order and a restraining order on the stalking.
She also contacted Stacey’s landlord on Friday; He called police, who found the bodies.
Twelve hours later, a judge, not knowing the outcome, issued an order supporting the restraining order, but denying her request for an emergency pick up.
“Greyson’s mother, Alison Kessler, did everything she could to keep her child safe from harm,” a statement from her family said. “We feel that the system failed us at every level, from her attorney to the police department, to the court system. There were many red flags exhibited by John Stacey that were never acted upon, even though Alison reported his bizarre and threatening behavior and went through all the proper channels. This tragedy could have been prevented if proper action had been taken to help Alison and Greyson.”
But Eric Schwartzreich, a local defense attorney not involved in the case, defended the judge. He told the SunSentinel that police are better suited to deal with circumstances like this because they can move more quickly. But even they can’t prevent every death.
“Everyone wants to look for blame,” Schwartzreich said. “The judge followed the law. He’s not clairvoyant. He can’t predict what’s going to happen. You can’t blame him in this case. You really can’t blame anyone. It’s just a tragedy.”