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Father Arrested After Wife Fatally Shot, Kids Injured

Children Listed In Stable Condition

POSTED: 9:13 am CDT April 30, 2008
UPDATED: 2:13 pm CDT May 1, 2008


Police said a man who fatally shot his wife and injured her two children in a Mesquite home Wednesday morning is in custody.
Police said Monique Turner, 31, and her children, Michael Turner Jr., 11, and Najye Heath, 7, were found in a house in the 1600 block of Sam Houston Road at about 7 a.m. after gunshots were reported coming from Candice Court at 6:24 a.m.

Neighbor Carlos Vazquez called 911 after he heard the shots.
"It was three at once and then a short pause and then two after it," he said.
The children were taken "It was three at once and then a short pause and then two after it," he said.
The children were taken to Children's Medical Center in Dallas and underwent surgery while their mother was taken to Baylor Medical Center Dallas. Monique Turner was pronounced dead at 7:50 a.m.
"This is a level of evil that I don't think we can really describe," Mesquite police Lt. Steve Callarman said.
Both of the children were out of surgery by late Wednesday afternoon and were in stable condition, Callarman said.
An 8-month-old infant who was also inside the home at the time of the shooting was not hurt.
Police said Michael Turner, 29, returned to the house and confessed to the shootings. He drove up to the house while paramedics were treating the victims at the scene and was arrested in connection with the shooting, Callarman said.
"As to why he came back to the scene to turn himself in, I don't think it had anything to do with remorse," Callerman said.
A neighbor who flagged down officers said she received a phone call from Turner saying he had shot his family.
Friends said the relationship between Michael and Monique Turner was rocky.
"There might have been some problems in the relationship but I never thought it would amount to this," family friend Sheronnie Pearl said.
Police said they charged Turner with one count of murder and two counts of attempted capital murder. He also has arrest warrants our of Tyler, Duncanville and Smith County.

rest In Peace
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Jonathan

  • Mar 27, 2008 11:36 pm US/Central porting
    Bud Gillett
  • DESOTO (CBS 11 News) ― Police arrested a DeSoto father after his 12-year-old son was taken to, and later died at, Charlton Methodist Hospital in Dallas.

    Wednesday afternoon the Dallas County Medical Examiner's Office ruled the death of Jonathon Potts a homicide due to blunt force trauma.

    According to detectives, Jonathon was hit with an extension cord and a stick. Terrance Andre Potts, 40, Jonathon's father, told DeSoto police he gave his son 20 to 30 licks.

    DeSoto police charged Potts with murder - a first degree felony. He is being held on one million dollars bond.

    Jonathon Potts and his father Terrance were riding in a car when his father says the child went into some sort of distress. Terrance Potts stopped at the Speedy Market Fina Station on the corner of E. Pleasant Run Road and The Meadows Parkway and paramedics were called.

    The following is a transcript from the emergency call.

    Dispatcher: Is your son able to talk to you at all?
    Caller: Jonathon
    Dispatcher: Sir, I need you to talk to me. Is your son able to talk to you at all?
    Caller: No. He is not responding ma'am. He's lying here laid out.
    Dispatcher: Okay. Is he in the car or outside of the car?
    Caller: He's sitting in the car. He's sitting in the car.

    When paramedics arrived at the scene around 10:25 a.m. Tuesday they found the 12-year-old unconscious and unable to breathe. Before rescuers could get the child to the hospital he went into cardiac arrest, but was revived.

    Ken Miller told CBS 11 News that Potts was his 'spiritual associate' in a 12-step program. Miller says he was taking his morning walk Tuesday when he saw Potts pulled over at a local convenience store, on the phone to 911, and 'working on' his son.

    "He was talking on the mobile phone, but he was looking inside of the car," Miller explained. "I saw him take the child out of the car and lay him down; he was still on the phone."

    Paramedics called DeSoto police after noticing injuries on the 12-year-old's back. When the child arrived at the hospital doctors said they saw 'looped marks' on his back and dried blood that appeared to be fresh. The boy also had 'extensive' bruising from his lower back to his buttocks.

    Jonathon Potts was pronounced dead at approximately 1:20 p.m.

    Police learned some information after talking with Terrance Potts. "The father did indicate to investigators that he had disciplined his son, spanked his son, the night before," said Lt. Mike Sullivan with the DeSoto Police Department.

    Jonathon's mother told police her son was spanked because he did not come home the day before he died.

    Authorities arrested Potts at the hospital. Initially he was charged with felony injury to a child, but those charges were amended to murder Wednesday afternoon.

    Terrance Potts has two other daughters, ages 11 and nine. Because of the nature of the charges against their father, the girls have been taken into custody by Child Protective Services.

    Officials say there had been no prior CPS history with the family and a hearing concerning the girl's future will be scheduled.

    Grief counselors were on hand at DeSoto East Middle School, where Jonathon Potts attended classes, for both students and their parents.

    Police tell CBS 11 News that the investigation in the death isn't necessarily over and that more charges may be filed.

    (© MMVIII, CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved.)

    January 19th, 2008

    Christopher and Danelle Cowan Beat Child for Potty Training Accident

    In San Antonio, Texas, police arrested Christopher James Cowan, and his wife, Danelle Cowen after police received a report from salon workers that their two-year-old daughter was abused. They’ve been charged with injury to a child.

    Salon employees told police the family came in for hair cuts.  They saw a large bruise on the girl’s face and abrasions and burn marks on her wrists. The employees told the girl’s father that he should take her to the hospital because she looked sick. He told them the toddler was “fine as long as she was walking.”

    Danelle, the stepmother, told them that the little girl had been punished for soiling her pants and that she put a hot sauce in her mouth as punishment.

    After the family left, the salon workers called the police who went to the Cowen’s home to investigate. First, they said the little girl injured herself and was not abused.  Then child protective services took her to the hospital for a medical screening. Doctors said her injuries indicated child abuse.

    Christopher Cowen finally confessed that he’d been having trouble potty training the little girl. He said that Danelle had tied up the child with shoe strings and spanked her with a belt as punishment

    Rest in Peace
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    Sarah and Amina

    Relative of murdered Dallas girls: “This was an honor killing;” father abused daughters

    By Michelle Malkin  •  January 6, 2008 07:04 AM

    1said.jpg Funeral services–both Christian and Muslim–were held Saturday in Dallas for murdered teen sisters Sarah and Amina Yaser Said. Their father, wanted for capital murder in the case, remains on the loose. Dallas Morning News reports on family reaction–including remarks from the girls’ mother, brother, and great-aunt, who is convinced that the double slayings are honor killings and detailed the daughters’ abuse at the hands of the father:

    Before the service, the girls’ mother and brother issued a public appeal for Mr. Said to surrender. Patricia Said said her husband needed to be brought to justice so that her “girls can rest in peace.” She said that she and her son would remain in hiding until her husband is captured.

    “I just want him to pay for what he did to my girls,” Mrs. Said said.

    Islam Said has previously disputed widespread rumors and media reports that his Muslim father’s religion may have been the reason for the killings. Some have speculated that the deaths may have been “honor killings,” a practice in which a man kills a female relative who he believes has somehow shamed the family.

    Patricia Said mourned the loss of her daughters at a Baptist service Saturday at Rahma Funeral Home.

    Irving police have said that they are exploring all possible motives for the slayings. Police have acknowledged that the family had some previous domestic problems.

    Gail Gartrell, the sisters’ great-aunt, said Saturday that Mr. Said had physically abused the two girls for years. Around Christmas, the girls’ mother – Ms. Gartrell’s niece – had fled because of Mr. Said’s threats to kill the girls after he learned they had boyfriends, she said.

    “She ran with them because she knew he would carry out the threat,” Ms. Gartrell said. “This was an honor killing.”

    She said her niece returned after Mr. Said told her that he would move out so they could reconcile. Within a few days, she said, the girls were dead.

    The Ft. Worth Star Telegram also reveals details about the missing father’s marriage to the girls’ mother. They married when she was 15 and he was 30:

    Details emerged Thursday about the days leading up to the fatal shootings of the Lewisville teens, who were found Tuesday evening in a taxi that police believe was driven by their father.

    Patricia Said and her daughters quit their jobs at a Kroger grocery store in Lewisville just before Christmas, a company spokesman said.

    Patricia and Yaser Said were wed in February 1987 when she was 15 and he was 30, Tarrant County marriage records show. The two have had addresses in Euless, Bedford, Grand Prairie and Arlington, public records indicate.

    Yaser Abdel Said filed a missing-person report Dec. 26. He hoped police would help track down his wife, according to a report by KDFW/Channel 4.

    The incident marked one of the domestic problems that investigators believe may have led to the killings of Sarah and Amina Said.

    Friends of the girls have said their father didn’t approve of them dating.

    Rest in Peace
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    Julissa 3, John Esthefan , 1, and 2-month-old Mary Jane

    BROWNSVILLE, Texas (AP) -- They suffocated, stabbed and beheaded their three young children.

    Then, prosecutors said, they mopped up the blood with red cloths, covered the stained floor with their victims' stuffed toys and cleaned themselves so thoroughly DNA could not be found beneath the accused's fingernails.

    A jury was to begin deliberations Thursday to decide whether the man who confessed to the killings was legally insane, or is guilty of capital murder.

    John Allen Rubio, 23, and his common-law wife, Angela Camacho, have admitted committing the crimes. Camacho, a Mexican national, is awaiting a hearing to decide whether she is mentally competent to stand trial for murder.

    If jurors return guilty verdicts in the three capital murder charges against Rubio, prosecutors said they likely will be asked to consider the death penalty.

    "By your verdict you will send a message -- that you will not hurt little children in Cameron County," Assistant District Attorney Karen Betancourt said in closing arguments Wednesday.

    Defense Attorney Alfredo Padilla reminded jurors of the selection process, when about 100 people walked out after hearing gruesome details of the case, saying they could not be objective.

    "You all promised us that you would listen to the evidence, not draw an opinion," he said.

    The defense argued that Rubio was rendered insane by years of chronic spray paint inhalation -- including a binge that lasted more than a week before the slayings -- coupled with a tendency toward schizophrenia.

    Betancourt countered that there was not history to show that Rubio, who was diagnosed with emotional problems as a child, was ever diagnosed, treated, or medicated for any type of mental illness.

    In fact, evidence showed Rubio knew he'd done wrong, putting his fists together and telling police "arrest me" when they arrived at the couple's tiny, windowless apartment, Betancourt said.

    Rubio told investigators his mother and grandmother were witches, and his mother had cast an evil spell the night before the killings that caused demons to possess the children, Julissa Quezada, 3, John Esthefan Rubio, 1, and 2-month-old Mary Jane Rubio.

    The two confessed separately to police, and Camacho later changed her story to say the two were at their wit's end because of money problems and pending cuts to their welfare benefits.

    Defense attorneys said that doesn't make sense.

    "You and I, I think we can all agree that the children were not possessed. But the question is, 'does my client think they're possessed?" Padilla said. "The only thing that makes sense is that the defendant, Mr. Rubio, was suffering from mental defect."


    UPDATE  Although he was given the death penalty, in Sept. 2007 was sentenced to death row. The criminal court of appeals in Austin decided a written statement by his common-law wife should never have been allowed into testimony and they overturned his murder convictions.

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    Now at Eternal Peace
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    Faith and Liberty

    Saturday, July 14, 2007

     

    DALLAS FATHER SENTENCED TO DEATH 4 Murder of 2 daughters

    .STEVE McGONIGLE / The Dallas Morning News

    John David Battaglia was sentenced to death Tuesday after a Dallas jury rejected defense arguments that his bipolar illness should lessen his punishment for murdering his two daughters.

    Mr. Battaglia, 46, showed no reaction to the verdict or to an emotional statement read by his former wife Mary Jean Pearle in which she wished him to "burn in hell forever" for the slayings of Faith, 9, and Liberty, 6.
    In Texas, John Battaglia wanted revenge on his wife. He had abused her for years while they were married and she finally had left him. He had unsupervised visitation with his two daughters, Mary Faith, 9, and Liberty, 6. In May 2001, the girls were with their father for dinner. Some two hours after they joined him, the girls' mother, Mary Jean Pearle, learned that Battaglia urgently needed to reach her. She called his apartment, and he put Mary Faith on the line. The little girl asked why her mother was trying to put their father in jail (for an incident of harassment). Just then, Mary Faith cried out, "No, Daddy, don't!" Pearle heard several gunshots, so she hung up and called 911, sending police to the apartment. They found both children dead from multiple gunshot wounds. Both had been shot at close range in the back of the head as well. Battaglia was down the street in a tattoo parlor, getting a rose for each of his daughters etched onto his arm. His defense was bipolar disorder, but he was convicted and sentenced to death.

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    Resting together in peace
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    Sariyah and Sebastian

    Texas Mother Who Buried Infants Under House Charged With Murder

    Sunday, March 11, 2007

    SAN ANTONIO —  The mother of two young children whose decomposing bodies were found wrapped in plastic bags beneath a house this week was arrested Saturday and charged with capital murder.

    Valerie Lopez, 19, was arrested early Saturday along with her boyfriend, authorities said.

    Lopez confessed to beating to death Sariyah Garcia, her 18-month-old daughter, and hiding her body beneath her home, Police Chief William McManus said. Sariyah died Christmas Eve.

    Lopez told investigators she killed Sebastian Lopez, her 5-month-old son, when she accidentally rolled over him about two months later, District Attorney Susan Reed said. Lopez also hid his body under the house.

    The boyfriend, Jerry Salazar, faces a charge of injury to a child by omission. He was aware Lopez was abusing her children, police said.

    Police had been searching for the couple since Tuesday night when the children's bodies were found by residents of a triplex who were trying to locate the source of a foul odor they had been smelling for as long as two weeks.

    Family members had little contact with Lopez since she had started living with Salazar, but friends reported seeing her looking as if she had been beaten up, her sister said.

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    Rest in Peace
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    Jeremiah

    Grandmother does not remember deadly attack, boyfriend says

    Web Posted: 01/23/2007 09:57 PM CST

    James Muņoz
    KENS 5 Eyewitness News

    The man who lived with the San Antonio woman charged in the death of her 4-year-old grandson told his side of the story Tuesday. In March, Santa Magdalena Campos, 45, quit her job to take care of her six grandkids, Fernando Cortinas said.

    She was overwhelmed and depressed after caring for the kids for so long. And on Friday, she must have snapped, Cortinas said.

    "She doesn't remember what happened. She just knows that they're accusing her of hurting that child. She says she doesn't remember anything. It's just a blank to her," Cortinas said.

    Campos and Cortinas lived together for 15 years. She wanted her six grandchildren to live with her, but the couple was having trouble making ends meet.

    The parents of the kids are both in prison, so the children moved in with their grandmother.

    "To me, she just snapped. She lost it at that time. It wasn't her. I've seen her and its real bad. She doesn't know what to do. I don't know what to do," Cortinas said.

    Santa Campos is accused of hitting her 4-year-old grandson Jeremiah Campos with a closed fist and pushing him against a door, where he hit his back and head because he soiled his pants.

    "No, no, no. She never hit him. She's a strict woman, but she was fair. A lot of times, I wasn't here," Cortinas said.

    Right now, Jeremiah's five siblings, ages 1 to 9, are with another family member.

    "I need to look out for them," Cortinas said.

    The kids received counseling Monday.

    "And I want to keep them all together. I don't want to separate 'em, 'cause they're my kids ... If someone could help, we would appreciate it," Cortinas said.

    Rest in Peace
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    Little brother and sister

    KXAS-TV
    10:20 a.m. CST March 5, 2007

    IRVING, Texas - Two children are dead after they were shot by their father during an apparent murder-suicide attempt, police said. Irving police arrived at the family's home on the 3100 block of Roanoke Drive just after 6:30 p.m. Sunday to find 27-year-old Hector Rolondo Medina in the front yard with multiple gunshot wounds.


    Police said Medina's wounds were all self-inflicted.

    Inside the home, officers said they found Medina's two children, an 8-month-old girl and a 3-year-old boy, both suffering from gunshot wounds as well. Both of the children were transported to Children's Medical Center in Dallas.

    The girl died at the hospital while her brother remained in critical condition for several hours. Shortly after 10 a.m., NBC 5 reported that the boy had also died from his gunshot wounds.

    Medina is still listed in critical condition.

    The children's mother was not at the home at the time of the shooting and arrived at the scene shortly after police. There was no one else inside the home at the time of the shootings, NBC 5 reported.

    Officials said that that the couple was having marital problems but that nothing had happened that would indicate actions of this magnitude.

    The investigation into the shooting is ongoing, police said.


    Rest in Peace
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    Houston father fatally shoots two children, kills self

    Monday , July 24, 2006  

    HOUSTON (AP) - Houston police say a man who'd just lost custody of his children fatally shot two of them -- then killed himself.

    Sergeant Dana Wolfe says Sunday night the ex-wife found the bodies of her eleven-year-old son and nine-year-old daughter in their beds.

    Wolfe says the woman had gone to what had been the family's house after her ex-husband failed to return the children to her home.

    A neighbor helped the ex-wife get into the house.

    The couple also had a 15-year-old daughter, who was not at his house at the time of the deaths.

    Wolfe says the divorce was settled Friday -- and the woman was awarded full custody.

    Wolfe says no suicide note was found at the scene. Names of the victims weren't immediately released

    In Death Her heart was Given to Save a Woma's Life
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    Katherine Frances

    Little Katrherine was fatally injured when her foster mother's 14 year old son smashed her head repeatedly against the floor. 

    Her death in DeSoto in Dec 2006,has brought lawmakers to consider and make laws for foster care reform.

    At least 13 children in foster care have died of abuse or neglect by foster caregivers since 2003, according to state figures.

    The foster  mother, Joyce Burks, faces a charge of injury to a child. She did not seek medical attention for Katherine for at least four hours, instead washing a comforter and pillow the girl vomited on after suffering her injuries, police Capt. Ron Smith said.

     

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    Couple jailed for alleged child abuse, mother's record revealed

    KRIS-TV

    CORPUS CHRISTI - A Corpus Christi couple that was arrested early Tuesday afternoon, facing charges of child abuse, was transferred to the Nueces County Jail Tuesday evening. Neither Brandy nor Kirk Seevers had any comment on alleged abuse to their 2-year-old twins, as they were brought out of the detention center.

    On Monday, the Brandy and Kirk, who is stepfather to the children, were questioned about the severe injuries. The two were first arrested at about 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, and each were booked on a $150,000 bond.

    Details in court documents unveiled information about Brandy Seevers' past and present. The mother was convicted of abusing her 7-year-old daughter back in 2005 and is still on probation for that felony charge.

    When the biological father of Brandy Seevers' twins was interviewed by police about the 2005 child abuse allegations involving her older daughters, he told investigators that "he believed that the discipline used by Brandy Seevers was appropriate."

    This may suggest that the broken bones and other injuries found on the twins Tuesday at Driscoll Children's Hospital might have been the result of some form of discipline as well.

    The case has similarities to one involving Andrew Burd, the toddler who died in October 2006, after his adoptive mother allegedly gave him a fatal dose of Cajun spices as a way to punish him.

    After police and Child Protective Services officials were called to Driscoll Children's Hospital on Friday, a DPS investigator sat down with Brandy Seevers, the 26-year-old who had brought Callista Torres, one of her twins, to get checked out.

    According to the affidavit, she told police that Callista, "fell off the bed onto a carpeted floor."

    Doctors had to perform emergency surgery on her skull to relieve the swelling and also found bruising on her head, thighs, knees, stomach, back and buttocks.

    During the hospital interview, Brandy was holding Callista's twin sister, Raquel Torres, and told the investigator that her daughters would not behave and were "defiant."

    She went on to say that she felt helpless when the "girls would look at me with that face!" And then said, "I hate that face!"

    While Brandy was still holding Raquel, the investigator spotted a couple of old bruises. He asked that Raquel be checked out also. Doctors discovered "a skull fracture, bleeding to the brain, a major infection on one of her toes, and bruises on her neck, forehead, stomach, back, inner thighs and knees."

    When the investigator told Brandy what doctors found, he said she continued to "deny any knowledge of the existence of the injuries," and had "no emotional response."

    Prosecutor James Sales said not all forms of physical punishment are against the law.

    "But when you cross the line, and you're causing serious bodily injury, you know, broken bones, then that person doesn't need to be having any more children," Sales said.

    A spokesperson for Child Protective Services said Brandy had received counseling and taken anger management classes following the 2005 abuse case and was cleared to take care of the twins.

    "All appeared to be suitable for her to take care of the children," Regina Posada of CPS said.

    But investigators said they believe the new injuries may indicate Brandy had experienced similar problems once again. Sales said that he encourages friends and family members who notice unusual injuries on children to speak out immediately.

    "Don't wait until the child is in the hospital before you come forward and say, 'Hey, this person has an anger problem,'" Sales said. "Let's address it beforehand, and maybe save some Children's lives."

    There was some good news on Tuesday night. Little Raquel Torres was released from the hospital and was taken to a foster home for the time being.

    However, Callista Torres, who suffered the more serious injuries of the two, remained at Driscoll Children's Hospital Tuesday night, and there was no word on her condition.

     

    Rest inPeace
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    Alijah

     
    Houston & Texas News
    "I miss you every second of the day," Caren Kohberger said of her son, Alijah.
    Family photo
    photos

    Feb. 3, 2008, 12:29PM
    Galveston police in Philly to question slain baby's dad

    RESOURCES

    TIMELINE


    Tuesday: The diaper-clad body of 3-month-old Alijah Mullis is discovered on a Galveston Island roadside. After interviewing his mother, police seek Travis Mullis for questioning.

    Wednesday: Galveston County Medical Examiner's Office rules the death a homicide caused by a head wound.

    Thursday: Brazoria County issues an arrest warrant for Mullis, accusing him of taking an 8-year-old girl from her bed and asking her to pull her pants down.

    Friday: Mullis surrenders to police in Philadelphia and admits he killed his son by stomping him to death.

    Saturday: Mother Caren Kohberger holds a tearful memorial service for Alijah.

    PHILADELPHIA — Four investigators from the Galveston Police Department arrived Sunday in Philadelphia, where they will continue their inquiry into an Alvin man's statement that he had killed his 3-month-old son by stomping on the baby's head.

    Travis Mullis, who unexpectedly turned himself in here on Friday and confessed to the killing, is being held in lieu of $1 million bail in Philadelphia after being charged with capital murder.

    Galveston police Sgt. Annie Almendarez told a small gaggle of reporters that the team of investigators will spend the next few days interviewing Mullis, examining his car and working with Philadelphia police to extradite Mullis to Texas. The process could begin as early as Monday.

    But Almendarez said investigators have no new details about the case and do not know when they will be able to start their work here or how quickly the process might go.

    They will try to meet with Mullis Sunday, said Almendarez, who added that Philadelphia police have been helpful.

    "They've been excellent. They've done a great job so far," she said.

    Almendarez, who has spent 13 years on the force, said investigating the death of Alijah Mullis is a tough case to handle.

    "I've seen my share of crimes, but this has been one of the hardest."

    The baby's body, clad in a diaper, was found beside a road on Galveston Island on Jan. 29.

    On Saturday, Alijah's mother fought through sobs as she recalled the little boy's "gorgeous smile" and "silly mohawk" during a small memorial service Saturday at an Alvin church.

    "Mommy loves you so much," said 27-year-old Caren Kohberger, reading from a letter she wrote to her son. "Thank you so much for giving me the best three months of my life."

    Speaking in front of a dozen friends and family members at the Living Stones Church on Victory Lane, Kohberger said she missed napping with her son and the way he would light up with happiness during baths.

    "There were so many things I was looking forward to — your first step, your first tooth, your first word, your first day of school, your first dance, your first date," Kohberger said.

    She said she had a whole life planned out for them and must now accept that Alijah will never grow up or have children of his own.

    "I miss you every second of the day," Kohberger said.

    Kohberger left the service clutching a blue teddy bear, declining to talk to the reporters stationed outside. She's also hired an attorney and refused to be interviewed by police, authorities said.

    Mullis, known as "T.J.," surrendered to Philadelphia police Friday, telling them he killed the boy "by stomping on Alijah Mullis' head with his foot three to four times until he felt the skull collapsing."

    Prosecutors said they haven't decided whether to seek the death penalty.

    Spent time with family

    Police had been searching for Mullis since the infant's body was discovered about 9 a.m. in an undeveloped area on Seawall Boulevard about a mile east of Ferry Road on Galveston Island. A child's car seat was discovered about 30 feet away.

    Mullis ended up in Pennsylvania — more than 1,580 miles from Galveston — after spending some time last week with family and a "mentor" in Maryland, said Sgt. Almendarez. He told Philadelphia police that he financed his trip north by soliciting money from church members with a sad story.

    Police have released little information about Mullis, but records show that he lived in the Baltimore suburb of Abingdon, Md., for about five years as a teenager.

    Mullis also is wanted in Brazoria County on a felony charge of enticing a child. He is accused of removing an 8-year-old child from her bed, taking her to a schoolyard and asking her to remove her pants.

    The Hyundai Accent he drove has been impounded by the Philadelphia police and will be examined by two crime scene investigators who are part of the group that flew here from the Galveston Police Department today.

    While police try to piece together events that led to the baby's death, a makeshift shrine of daffodils, candles and teddy bears sprang up in the grass in front of the trailer where the family lived with friends off Highway 528 in Alvin, created by a close-knit group of neighbors who are struggling to understand how their friend — a man who barbecued with them and sought their advice — could be accused of killing a child they all loved.

    "He led a double life and we never knew," said James Robertson, a 42-year-old truck driver who lives next door. "What's shocking is he really did show a lot of love for the baby. He was very proud. He kept pictures in his pocket. He was definitely a proud father."

    Neighbors were relieved to hear about Mullis' arrest in Philadelphia on Friday night, Robertson said.

    "We have a lot of questions that have not been answered," Robertson said. "The same question probably thousands of people got — Why? No matter how much anger you have for somebody, you don't go to the point of doing that, especially to a baby."

    Moved in with friends

    Mullis and Kohberger moved in with Robertson's neighbor Darrell Nichols, 30, and his family while they tried to get their lives together.

    Police said neither Mullis nor Kohberger had a job, although Mullis had applied at Wal-Mart.

    "We were trying to help someone get on their feet," Nichols said. "But the main reason they were here is we wanted to keep the baby from living on the street."

    Although Nichols never thought Mullis was capable of violence, now he feels he took advantage of his generosity.

    "Betrayed is a good word for it," Nichols said. "If I had a chance to talk to him right now, I'd ask him why would you do something like this, knowing you'd have to live with it for the rest of your life? Why would you put people through this when they're just trying to help?"

    Mullis never seemed to be able to get himself on the right track, said Nichols, who described the young man as "a wannabe big shot trying to make it in a small world. The kind of person who has so many goals set in his head but never can go through with any of it."

    On top of their financial problems, Mullis and Kohberger were having relationship troubles and often argued, said Robertson's wife, Lisa.

    "Every time he'd get angry, he'd leave, but he'd always come back in three to four days and apologize," 44-year-old Lisa Robertson said. "This isn't anything he can apologize for."

    Neighbors also had concerns about Kohberger, who seemed despondent and nervous after Alijah's birth.

    "We told her she had postpartum depression and tried to get her help," Lisa Robertson said.

    Alijah, who suffered from acid reflux, could be fussy, but was very affectionate and loved to be cuddled, said Lisa Robertson, who used to baby-sit the boy.

    "He was a little magpie, really cute, always laughing," she said. "He deserved to live, he didn't deserve this, by no means."

    While police refused to discuss the relationship between Kohberger and Mullis, Kohberger announced that she was single again in a Dec. 29 posting on a personal Web page.

    "I'm not gonna go into details but apparently some men ... can't handle having a family," she wrote.

    In Abingdon, Md., a former neighbor said Mullis' questionable behavior prompted his family to move.

    "My wife had just given birth to our son and I sat down and said I don't want our kid growing up next door to this guy," said Ben Wind, 38, who was a Baltimore police officer at the time.

    Made threat

    Among other claims, Mullis told the officer that he'd spent time in a juvenile detention center and even threatened to poison Wind's dog.

    "He has been a problem child and did nothing but bad stuff," said former neighbor Jim Burns, 38, a line technician. "This kid was just blank the whole time. It's like he was empty."

    Former neighbor Craig Monath, 31, a salesman, added, "He was a strange kid."

    Mullis is wanted in Maryland for failure to appear on two traffic violations, records show.

    It's uncertain when Mullis arrived in Houston, but he eventually was taken in by his uncle, Bernard F. Woodard, who lived in a downtown Houston apartment, said Woodard's landlady, E. Bannerman, 90.

    Mullis lived with his uncle for six months or a year in 2005, Bannerman said.

    She said Woodard tried to help his nephew go to school and get a job.

    Woodard accused Mullis of taking some of his valuables.

    James Robertson has plans for the improvised shrine in front of the trailer where the little boy lived.

    "In summertime, when the weather gets better, we're going to build a little flower bed and plant roses and put something in there for him," he said. "We'll get something permanent built — a little statue or something — in memory of him."

     

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