Tuesday, March 31, 2009


How many dead children will it take? Courts need to start listening when children say they don't want to go with their father. Courts need to start listening when mothers say their children are not safe with their father.

Remember the Castillo case in Maryland? Three children drowned in a bathtub--because the court refused to listen when a mother said the children were not safe in unsupervised visits with their father.

And what about the two Slobodow boys--who accused their father of virtually unspeakable sexual molestation...of all kinds of other abuses...and of child pornography? Well...what about them? They now live in Tampa, Florida, with their father--who gained custody of the boys by default when he and his attorney, in cahoots with the Montgomery County prosecutor, managed to convince two juries that their mother had tried to have their father killed. This, despite the fact that Maryland's highest court opined that there was absolutely nothing to connect their mother, Elsa Newman, with the breaking-and-entering crime of family friend, Margery Landry.

There was no murder attempt. There was no conspiracy. Landry acted on her own, and in fact, acted behind Newman's back while Newman was out of the state, attending a wedding.

And now we have another case in Illinois. Once again, a mother said to law enforcement, "I don't want to send my children to him. They are not safe with him!" And the courts and law enforcement laughed her to scorn.

Now her sons Duncan and Jack are dead. Their father has apparently committed suicide.

The mother has blamed the courts and the legal system.

McLean County State's Attorney Bill Yoder said at Monday's news conference that he was not exactly sure what Leichtenberg referred to.

Perhaps Mr. Yoder had to take some kind of IQ test before he became State's Attorney in order to prove that he is sufficiently inept and lacking in intelligence to provide such an answer when an agonized mother says the judicial system failed her. She means, Mr. Yoder, that the American system of "justice"...the Illinois legal system...the prosecutor's office...ALL OF YOU failed to listen to her when she did not want her sons to spend time with their father, her former husband.

Read on for more of the story.

Sheriff: Ill. boys, father died in murder-suicide
By DAVID MERCER Associated Press Writers
7:12 PM CDT, March 30, 2009

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - Two young central Illinois boys missing for three weeks were found dead in the back seat of their father's car, apparently killed by their dad before he took his own life, authorities said Monday.

A 911 call led authorities in rural Putnam County to a remote spot Sunday night where they found 9-year-old Duncan Connolly and his 7-year-old brother, Jack. They discovered the body of 40-year-old Michael Connolly about 60 yards away. The boys, from the small town of Leroy, were the subject of a national search after their father failed to return them to their mother on March 8 after a weekend custody visit. The couple divorced in 2006 and Connolly had only recently been allowed to keep his sons overnight. Autopsies were being conducted Monday afternoon, but McLean County Sheriff Mike Emery, whose agency investigated the boys' disappearance, and Putnam County Sheriff Kevin Doyle said the case was being investigated as a double homicide-suicide.

Neither would discuss many details of the case at a news conference Monday, including how the boys and their father died, how long they had been dead or why they ended up in a rural location about 60 miles north of the area where the lived. The sheriffs said they would respect the family's wishes in withholding details. "Our hearts and prayers now are with Jack, Duncan and (their mother) Amy Leichtenberg," an emotional Emery said, his voice wavering.

Leichtenberg issued a statement expressing her own heartbreak. "No parent should have to bury their babies," she said. "Duncan and Jack, Mommy loves you to the heavens and back." Leichtenberg also blamed the courts. I feel that the judicial system failed me," Leichtenberg said, without elaboration. "I pray that the courts listen to the warnings from other parents like me."

McLean County State's Attorney Bill Yoder said at Monday's news conference that he was not exactly sure what Leichtenberg referred to, but his office had recently filed four "criminal actions" against Connolly and that his continued visitation rights had been under discussion.

Connolly was to have dropped the boys off at the police department in Leroy after picking them up there March 6, Emery said. A court order had barred Connolly from contact with Leichtenberg, according to Bloomington attorney Helen Ogar, who represented her.

The order also initially prevented Connolly from seeing his sons. Connolly was only allowed to start keeping his children overnight without supervision last December, Ogar said. Connolly had never hurt Leichtenberg or their sons, but scared her because he called often, sometimes threatening suicide and at other times trying to intimidate her or convince her to come back to him, Ogar said. Police investigating the boys' disappearance said Connolly had threatened to kill himself, and had a history of gambling problems and been treated for depression. He worked as a pharmaceutical sales representative, making a "good living," Ogar said.

Before the weekend the boys disappeared, Leichtenberg did not want to turn the boys over to their father, Ogar said. "She was contacted by the Leroy police and told that she had to send them, that it was an arrestable offense (if she did not)," she said. Ogar said she told Leichtenberg that failure to give the boys to their father was a civil matter, not criminal, and told her not to turn them over if she didn't want to.

Authorities did not issue an Amber Alert in the case until the evening of March 8, roughly a day after they were due back to their mother. Leroy police did not issue the alert -- eventually issued by the McLean County Sheriff's Department -- because the agency did not believe the boys were in danger, Ogar said. An officer who answered the telephone at the Leroy Police Department Monday directed questions to police Chief Gordon Beck, whom he said was out of town.

Todd Roseberry, who represented Connolly over violations of the court order barring contact with Leichtenberg, said he was stunned by three deaths. "The Michael Connolly I knew was very affectionate and loved his kids," Roseberry said, adding that he hadn't spoken with Connolly since late last summer.

On Monday in Leroy, counselors came to schools to talk with friends of Duncan and Jack and other kids upset by the news. A lighted sign outside a hardware store in town read "Forever in our Prayers." A spokesman for Leichtenberg said Monday that if she ever doubted her sons would come home, she didn't show it. "I spoke to her last evening. She was in downtown Davenport, Iowa, handing out fliers and putting up posters," said family friend Brad MacAfee. "Every interaction I had with her, she had all the hope in the world she was going to see those boys."

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