Posted May 07, 2013 05:52 pm CDT
The daughter of a man who shot two women to death at a Delaware courthouse earlier this year is seeking custody of the three daughters of one of the slain women.
In Delaware, relatives usually receive preference when courts are considering the permanent guardianship of children in foster care, the News Journal reports. But Delaware officials say that because her brother’s parental rights were terminated, Amy Gonzalez has no legal relationship to the girls and hence will be given no familial preference in custody proceedings.
The Feb. 11 shooting of Christine Belford, 39, and a friend who came with her to the Wilmington courthouse for a scheduled child-support hearing that day followed years of contentious battle over custody of Belford’s three daughters with her former husband, David Matusiewicz.
Belford’s former father-in-law, Thomas Matusiewicz, 68, shot both women to death in the courthouse lobby and wounded two police officers before killing himself.
David Matusiewicz, who had arrived at the courthouse Feb. 11 with his father but went inside through security while his father apparently waited for the two women to arrive, had unsuccessfully sought custody for years before having his parental rights terminated. Previously convicted in a federal child-kidnapping case involving his daughters and released on parole after serving his sentence, he is now serving an additional six months for a parole violation related to his trip from Texas, where he was living with his parents, to Wilmington for the court hearing.
Belford’s former mother-in-law, Lenore Matusiewicz, was previously convicted in a state court kidnapping case for her involvement in taking the three girls to Central America with David Matusiewicz. Since the day after the Feb. 11 shootings, she has been barred by Delaware court order from contact with her three granddaughters.
The state is currently the guardian of the three girls, ages 7 to 10. Gonzalez, who lives in Edinburg, Texas, says she has not been given any information by the state concerning their present whereabouts and has been asked not to contact the family division of the state attorney’s office or the state Department of Services for Children Youth & Their Families.
“I have no idea where my nieces are and will not be given any information when requested from Attorney General Beau Biden’s Office and the Delaware child protective services,” Gonzalez said in an email to reporters. “I am deeply concerned for them.”
She said she had only sent one email and made one phone call to the AG’s family division after petitioning for custody in February.
ABAJournal.com: “Women gunned down at Delaware courthouse were there for child-support hearing”
ABAJournal.com: “Courthouse shooter had handwritten death warrant for lawyer who wasn’t there, authorities say”
ABAJournal.com: “Courthouse shooter had prior run-ins with lawyers over family dispute”
News Journal: “DNA taken from courthouse shooter’s son”