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Charley’s Breaking Story: The National Sheriffs’ Association Offers Free Domestic Violence Training for Law Enforcement — But One Maryland Sheriff, His Staff, and a State’s Prosecutor Remain Ignorant of Gun Laws!

November 2, 2014

Author’s Note:

This is my personal story. Names and locations are withheld at this time.

But keep an eye on the media as this story unfolds in the public eye. Be sure you tell everyone that you heard it straight from the source first.

*  *  *

One day last October, I called a Maryland Sheriff’s Office and spoke with a detective about my public safety concerns regarding a woman and her four-year-old child living with a convicted domestic violence felon whom I knew for a fact was illegally in possession of firearms and ammunition in his home.

The convicted domestic violence felon is known as my former husband (herein referred to as my “ex”). He is the father of my son, who begrudgingly lived and worked with his father. His father owns and operates a landscape construction company specializing in the installation of master pools complete with high-end residential and commercial landscape and hardscape packages. We started the family business in 1987, and it is now in full swing and affords my ex to purchase multiple homes to include rental properties, luxury vehicles, and extended vacations throughout each year, amongst other things. Father was proud and boastful of our son’s performance on the job, and clients and work associates adored his easy-going personality, ingenious problem-solving ability, and excellent work ethic. 

My son planned to move out with his girlfriend (who had become a mainstay at the house from what I understand) and he already had started plans to own and operate a computer consulting partnership with his best friend. My son made his plans in secret from his father; he said that he knew his father would unduly continue to pressure him to take over the family business. Additionally, my son openly expressed his resentment over his living situation in a multitude of levels. His father knew nothing of his discontentment, his intention to quit his job and never take over the “family” business, or of his plans to start his own business and go to Tech school. His father outwardly and vehemently hated his son’s girlfriend, and my son outwardly and vehemently hated his father’s “stripper-baby-momma.” … Well, those were his words, and they are, well, true nonetheless…

Back to the story.

I knew for a fact that the guns were in my ex’s exclusive use and possession because my son told me that he owned the guns and kept them at his father’s house — with his father’s full knowledge and consent. He even “shot birds on the farm” when Dad was home. His father in all likelihood shot the guns himself as a father-son recreation, shared in secret from Mom because of the illegality of it.

“Just don’t tell your mom.”

It was a secret that was engineered to draw in a youth of 23 years, making a special bond between father and son.

“I’m of age. I’m not mentally challenged. I’m not a felon. It is my constitutional right to own guns. Just because Dad isn’t allowed to own a gun doesn’t mean that I can’t.”

My son lived in an attic bedroom rent-free or for other nominal considerations, but there was no exclusive use and possession of the room as there was no formal rental agreement, according to my son. Being the exclusive owner of the property, his father has every right to enter onto the premises known as my son’s room; and as such, being the sole owner of the property, his father also owned a copy of the key or could change the lock at will if he lost his key; and as such, he could even remove the door to gain access to the room, with no cause, if he so wished, because the son essentially had no legal right to enjoy full privacy and use of the quarters.

My son stated that he kept the door locked because [his “bratty” four-year-old half sister] “got into everything” and “they let her do anything she wanted.”  I immediately ‘schooled’ my son on federal and State gun laws; I was concerned that my son could be implicated in an accessory charge if anything at all happened to the four-year-old — or anyone else …

“If your father gets a hold of a gun during one of his rages, anything is possible. Please do not make me report this. Get the guns out of the house. Immediately.”

I advised my now-wiser son to go to the online Federal Firearms Reference Guide and to call me with questions or if he wanted to talk to me about it. I made sure that he was aware that his father was putting him in a very, very bad situation. I informed him that with this gun law, “ignorance is no excuse for breaking the law.” I even offered to take the guns until he moved into his own place; however, I was in the process of moving out of state over the next month, and time was of the essence.

Upset at the prospect that his father would intentionally put him in harms way, my son was more adamant than ever to find a place and get out as soon as possible. But he ran into some financial snags that in the end point back to his father’s evils. My son was between a rock and a hard place and a heated dispute with his girlfriend was the deciding factor on exactly when he would make his final desperate “move” to escape his painful situation.

Unfortunately for my son and for all of us who loved him, my son found “a way out” that solved all his problems in one swift act.

His father blamed my son’s girlfriend because “she admitted to playing with a sex toy which upset him, just before she decided to go home.” The Father made certain that the investigator included that fact, of all things, in my son’s suicide report. I find it absurd that any competent person would believe that a 23-year-old healthy man (who was with only his third girlfriend ever — including his kindergarten sweetheart) would be so upset that his girlfriend was playing with herself — and that he would blow his brains out over a dildo. According to his girlfriend, “he had no problem in that department,” so there is far more than the forced confession that my ex coerced out of this poor 20-year-old as she stood in shock over her beloved’s dead body as the father and his “wife” attempted to breathe life into my son who would never rise again. I can imagine how she felt at that moment because I know “that wild look” that overcomes my ex’s eyes and contorts his steriod-ballooned face. Yes, my son confessed a number of reasons before he died as to why his father’s temper is so bad…and he seemed to want everyone on the planet to know about it.

“I love my dad, Mom, because he’s taught me a lot of things about business.”

My son stopped and took a long breath.

“But what he’s taught me the most is how NOT to be a man.”

“I don’t know WHY he won’t pay you the money he owes you. He’s rich. Go get the money, Mom. You know how to find it. Promise me that you will go get the money.”

He wanted to be so sure that his girlfriend’s mother knew that he was NOT like his father that he called me five minutes later to make me promise that I would be sure that her mother KNEW that. It was very important to him, and he sounded quite adamant and mortified at the prospect of being told that he ‘was just like his father.’

His words, his tone, his desperation rings loud and clear in my memory just as if he told me these things today. A mother does not forget these things, especially her son’s last conversations; especially the look in her son’s eyes the last time she saw him; especially the finality of it all.

I blame his father and I am abhorred that he would use such demeaning and degrading accusations (to both his own son and his girlfriend) in order to point the blame away from himself for the illegal weapons possession. Laws in other states might find him guilty of [involuntary] manslaughter for his part in the illegal weapons possession. But Maryland law enforcement and one State’s prosecutor in particular, do not seem to find any connections because they refuse to enforce the very gun laws they pledged to uphold.

I personally saw the guns and ammunition after my my son committed suicide using his own .45 caliper handgun last October, just two days after the fact and while my son was still lying cold on the coroner’s slab. I wanted to see my son’s room to try to make sense of the absurdity of the death, and by some grace of God, my ex allowed me for the first time in over 15 years into his home. (He was terrified that I would “see all his stuff” especially since at one time he owed me over $140,000 in unpaid child support and alimony before I garnished some bank accounts. Believe me, I wasn’t much impressed; it appeared that he was trying to decorate and relive his life with me, which would be sad in any other situation, especially since my decorating style changed years ago. This is scary on so many levels.)

I am sure to this day he regrets allowing me into the house, no matter the circumstance, especially since I received what I believe was a death threat this past Easter Sunday, the 15th anniversary of the Easter beating in 1996 which freed me from the grip of this violent man, and this is verified by the Fire Marshall’s Report.

_______________________

And I am sure that exposing the truth will result in my eventual grisly death. (Keep reading. You’ll get to a few prime examples.) At this point, I have lived the fear for so long that it has been replaced first by numbness then by courage. My father told me before he died,

“Having courage is doing something that you’re afraid to do, but you do it anyway.”

My father was a B-17 belly-gunner in the Army Air Core, serving proudly — and courageously — in World War II. I think I had a true mentor who reminds me even 10 years after his death to remain as stubborn as the day I was born, to see this through, and to make sure that people are held accountable. My son loved him and admired him above any other man in his life, including his own father. He told me so. 

There is a bigger picture here than my personal story. How many like scenarios will follow? How many other felons will escape punishment because Maryland has a track record for being the last to uphold Federal guidelines? How many other mothers will grieve for their children, lost to convicted domestic violence felons? I, for one, will do my part as a proud American, even if I must die for the love of my children. It is because I love my children and my children’s children, I must protect them with all that I am.

_______________________

The .45 remained in police custody until the suicide investigation was closed. One day I discovered that the Sheriff’s office was

 “ready to release the gun to family, or else melt it down, or else register the gun for the use of the Department, or else sell it.”

I demanded that the Sheriff’s office retain the weapon as evidence for what I believed would be an ensuing criminal proceeding. More on that later.

While the detective who took point on my son’s suicide seemed to listen intently and with much compassion to my story, I was instructed,

“Contact the State’s Attorney’s Office because [that office] originally prosecuted [him] on the domestic violence charges.”

That made sense to me, since this is a violation of the man’s felony conviction which terms implicitly MANDATES that he shall never own or possess firearms or ammunition.

So, I made the call to the State’s Attorney’s Office in the form of a written complaint. I also included in my complaint the fact that I wanted to file a criminal nonsupport complaint against this man whose outstanding judgements for child support and alimony exceed $50,000 and have remained unpaid since 1997. The SA directed me to the child support enforcement agency. But he ignored my gun complaint and many follow up emails.

I finally demanded:

“What do you intend to do about the felony gun complaint?

The State’s Attorney finally wrote me back, flatly indicating that he “got hundreds of emails every day.” In a subsequent email, he curtly stated:

“If you believed that a crime is being committed, contact your local law enforcement agency.”

It took about two weeks to get back to Square One. State’s Attorney obviously was disinterested in some unrepresented woman making a serious gun law complaint. But, I did as he said after I wrote him back to thank him for “pointing me in the right direction.

Since the Sheriff’s office initially pointed me to the State’s Attorney, I called the State Police and then the City Police … both directed me back to you know where — Square One: The Office of the Sheriff.

It is now late-January and three months after my initial complaint.

This time, I demanded to speak directly with the Sheriff, who listened to my complaint. He did not seem very interested in hearing it, either. I nevertheless decided to trust that the Sheriff would do his job and immediately (1) get a warrant, (2) go and retrieve the firearms and ammunition that I personally saw at my ex’s house —  after my son committed suicide at that same location, (3) make the arrest and confisgate the evidence, and (4) let the prosecutor ‘have a go at him’ on mandatory Black Letter gun law.

The Sheriff is also mandated to file a complaint of child abuse or neglect with Child Protective Services, but “they didn’t want to do that pending a search and arrest warrant” — which, by the way, never happened. They preferred to allow public citizens remain in danger rather than “endanger their law enforcement staff.” They seemed to have a difficult time figuring out ‘how to get a warrant that would stick”

Since October 16, 2010, I had personal first-hand eye-witness knowledge that at least three guns and ammunition remained unsecured and illegally on the premises after my son’s death. If we don’t count the fact that I believe a shotgun and silencer remain in this man’s possession, then add 10 days for a total of over 209 days — or 6 months and 27 days — as of the date of this posting… this is fast becoming a public epidemic nationwide, by the way…

FURTHER, I discovered by the investigator’s own admission that he later asked this convicted felon “if he wanted the .45 caliper handgun back!” No! I’m not kidding!

But, that is not the only story line here or even the point of this post. It is important, I think, that you know the background before I finally make my point. At least it will add some drama to the already sordid account….

After several months of making my formal complaint, I called the Sheriff to ask what was taking him so long. Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s had already passed; Valentine’s Day was fast approaching and Easter (the 15th anniversary of my final physical beating) was right around the corner. I was very concerned that not only were the holidays a prime time for domestic violence, and that my (surviving) children visit their father (along with my grandchildren). I know that his temper flares and that they would be endangered. I was concerned for my ex’s live-in baby momma because more than likely she would receive much of the brunt of his anger, behind closed doors, in private, the way he likes it to keep his public “appearance” pristinely false. If you have met or meet him in the future, you would like this man if you did not know his sordid criminal history. He is the ultimate con artist when it comes to getting people to like him so that he can later take advantage of them as a means to his own end. Getting back to my subsequent conversation with the Sheriff. I was taken aback by the absurd remark that he, a peace officer voted in my his public, made to me:

“If that woman wants to leave, she can get out.”

I was livid.

“I cannot believe what I just heard you say! I cannot believe that you will not take this seriously, Sheriff.”

“I do take this seriously. But there is nothing holding this woman back from leaving…”

I interrupted him before he could do even more damage to his own public reputation and his office in general.

“I was told by this man, when I was married to him,” I told the Sheriff, “a variety of threats that kept me from leaving many times. Additionally, when I did leave on several occasions, with the kids in tote, this man literally tracked me down and found me at a hotel, despite the fact that I told the night clerk on duty that I was attempting to escape from a domestic violence situation. My ex pounded on the door and when I opened it, he grabbed me by the hair and literally dragged me out the door and back home. The kids were terrified…”

The heat was building on my cheeks and my heart pounded out of my chest as I relived the horror of the situation.

“That woman and child are potential in danger! And so are my children and grandchildlren .”

[Think of the potential a rubberband has: just laying on the table, it is inert. But sling it like a slingshot and you have the potential to blind someone. Potential is a very real safety concern.]

“That man threatened me in sick ways:

He told me many times — verbatim — 

“If you ever cheat on me or try to leave me again, I will string you up to a tree and skin you alive. You know they do that in [a Central American country]. Then I’ll gut you like a pig. And while your guts are on the ground, I’ll kill the kids in front of you. When you’re finally dead, I’ll throw you through the limb shredder and mulch our clients’ beds with you. They will never find you.”

I continued redressing the Sheriff:

“And then there was the one where he threatened me, “If you ever cross me again, I’ll dig a 25-foot pit at the bottom land [we lived on a farm] and bury you alive. They will never find you.”

I insisted to the Sheriff,

“I believed him. He used to wait until I fell asleep, and then he’d wake me up screaming my name as he repeatedly punched me in the head for some ‘thing’ he falsely accused me of doing. I learned to sleep lightly with ‘one ear open’ at all times, not because I had small children, but because I had small children who I felt needed protection from this man.”

The Sheriff tried to assure me “that this woman was not in danger” and that “she had options if she wanted to leave.” How in the hell did the Sheriff know that this woman ‘was not in danger’ and ‘could leave if she wanted to leave — and take her five-year-old with her?

I recalled “the final beating” that put me in the hospital for almost two weeks and which required that I spend over a month at a house for battered women with my children. The oldest, who didn’t care for the “institutional” environment stayed with friends. I was black and blue from head to toe (except where my husband sat on my chest as he pummeled my head alternately like a punching bag). The nurses at the hospital cried when they saw me and they could not bring themselves to care for me; my personal physician cried when he saw me. I was ruled out for a fractured skull but sustained two separate concussions, a dislocated jaw, a few cracked ribs, and I was deafened in my right ear. I only have about 10% hearing from that ear today. I literally looked like I was hit by a Mac truck for over three full months after Easter Sunday 1996. The judge wanted to send this man away for 20 years…

I believe that my ex would have succeeded in his threat that ‘he WAS going to kill me’ [because I was seeking a divorce and he further falsely accused me of having an affair with my doctor]. If the Deputy did not arrive when he did, I believe that I would not be telling my story today. Living in a rural area, it took 45 minutes for the cops to come. The deputy kicked in the door and pulled this man[iac] off me. I told him that my husband was trying to kill me, that he told me that he was going to kill me, and that I wanted him arrested. The police report he filed was for felony battery; it should have been assault and battery and attempted murder. The cops just don’t get it.

But therein lies the irony. The cop who filed what I believe was an insufficient report for the crime that was committed against me, lost his ex-wife and children to a murder-suicide several years ago during a domestic violence rampage in my former hometown, the town where I was almost killed by my then-husband. My heart goes out to him, as despite the inadequacy of his domestic violence training that I credit to the times and not his willingness to actively seek the education, he was devoted to patrolling my home and ensuring my safety during the months that followed my “release” from the battered women’s shelter. He became a dear friend to me and my family, and I cannot fathom his loss. My children went to school with his children. The chill of domestic violence rings loud and clear in the county where I now attempt to find justice using “local law enforcement” and a State’s Prosecutor who are disinterested because I am flatly informed that my “case is not big enough.”

However, this was the best day of my life. Really. After being mentally, emotionally and physically abused from 1981 through 1996, the State NOW would have to mandatorily arrest and prosecute this man and ensure the safety of my children and me. I made it out alive, after so many attempts to get away from this psycho, and now my hands were tied insofar as prosecution goes. He was going to jail, no doubt about it.

Part II

The point of this story is not to tell you about my own domestic violence story; it is not about the woman and child who I feel still remains in harm’s way because a long gun and silencer are still unaccounted for by law enforcement, even though the woman and child have been directly in harm’s way for over six long and agonizing months as I tried to keep a lid on this story until the case was closed. We are going on month seven, and remember that I believe another gun as well as an illegal silencer/suppressor that my son reportedly made are still unaccounted for.

This is a story about how “the good old boy’s network” must be reformed through mandatory training and education on domestic violence. This Sheriff had been in office (voted in by the public) since at least the day I was nearly beaten to death. Perhaps he did not recall that my case was voted (by the deputies in his office) as the second worse domestic violence case in the history of his jurisdiction; I was the second recipient of their emergency cell phone program; the deputies came and installed a security system in my home; they furnished me with a panic button that I wore around my neck; they patrolled my house between four and six times daily, 24 hours a day.

Lieutenant Governor Kathleen Kennedy Townsend and Maryland State Delegate Sue Hecht, through the battered women network, asked me to go with them to speak before legislation regarding the Violence Against Women Act. The law was enacted after the legislators became very emotional with my address, but I cannot receive much credit just for showing up. I was only one amongst many who spoke that day, but I could barely stand unassisted as I stood battered and bruised to tell my story. I remember that a few of the legislators wiped a tear or two from their faces as I told them my story as they witnessed the damage first hand that this man inflicted upon me with his bare hands — and at that, my story had only just begun.

Since that time, I have been a domestic violence advocate and have helped many women — and men — out of terrible domestic violence and family law situations. Since 1996, I have been stalked, harassed and caused to be falsely arrested in a witness intimidation attempt by the man who tried to kill me, and who I believe is responsible for my son’s death after deciding that kidnapping the children was the best way out of paying child support.

I am no longer afraid of the man who tried to beat me to death in 1996 because fear has been overcome by the rage of my son’s senseless suicide. This steriod-pumped man, once pointed a loaded gun at my head after pushing this pregnant woman into a bathtub ranting,

I should just blow your f*cking head off!.”

Just read all about felony gun charges on this website, read the articles I’ve posted so far, and let me know what you think.

Do you think this convicted domestic felon, caught with at least six counts of illegal possession of firearms, should be left to endanger society indefinitely without paying his debt to society?

Well, the Sheriff and his team seem to believe so. And apparently, so does a State’s Attorney who blindly turned away from his responsibilities without so much as a care in the world.

I’m crying “conspiracy” loud and clear.

There have been no charges filed — yet. I am not finished — yet.

The sheriff’s lady detective and her Sheriff decided to close the case unilaterally, despite mandatory gun laws, and even asked this man “what he wanted to do with the guns” once again.

I understand that the “ATF liaison” as they called him, never even read my complaint, my emails, and he did not even know my name! Once given the case that “some vindictive woman insisted on opening”, he went over to this felon’s house within the week — with no search warrant, no arrest warrant, and no intention of arresting a convicted felon in illegal possession of at least six counts of firearm-related criminal charges.

I was later told by him that “the case was not juicy enough.”

I am now faced with exposing this story with the full force of “Mother’s nature.”

In any event, it appears to me and many others (to include other Sheriff’s who are painfully aware of this story) that this particular Sheriff needs some domestic violence training, which by the way, is offered for free via Domestic Violence Trainings – National Sheriffs’ Association. … That is, if he decides to stay in office after this hits the major media circuit. Here’s what they offer:

Rural Law Enforcement Training:  “Domestic Violence Intervention and Investigation”

To date, NSA has held approximately 62 trainings nationwide and approximately 2,600 individuals have successfully completed the training. This two-day, 16-hour training is open to members of law enforcement, criminal justice, advocacy agencies, and other community organizations involved with domestic violence prevention and awareness. Expert law enforcement, prosecutors and advocates team-teach the five main components of this training: liability, the dynamics of domestic violence, investigation and interviewing, prosecuting domestic violence cases, and solutions and resource development. During this training geared to address the specific needs of small towns and rural areas, training participants will learn how to:

  • Use new interviewing, evidence gathering, and probable cause determination techniques in domestic violence cases
  • Conduct more effective investigations to hold offenders accountable and therefore prevent future abuse
  • Enhance the safety of victims of domestic violence and of responding officers
  • Decrease the risk of lawsuits against law enforcement agencies
  • Apply federal and state laws pertaining to domestic violence
  • Enforce protection orders
  • Describe evidence-based investigation and prosecution
  • Describe the dynamics of domestic violence
  • Identify counseling, shelter, and legal resources for the victim
  • Identify law enforcement’s role in a coordinated community response to domestic violence crimes.

Depending on state regulations, individuals who complete this training will receive 16 hours of POST certification. This training is tuition-free. Participants are responsible for their transportation, lodging, and meals.

Domestic Violence Training for Rural Communications Professionals (Dispatchers/Call Takers)

This one- and-a-half-day, 12-hour training is for dispatchers, call takers, and other emergency services telecommunication professionals and their supervisors. To date, NSA has held approximately 18 trainings (including pilots) nationwide and approximately 450 call takers have successfully completed the training. Expert law enforcement, prosecutors and advocates team-teach contemporary concepts of domestic violence intervention and investigation. During this training geared to address the specific needs of small towns and rural areas, training participants will learn how to:

  • Conduct effective responses to domestic violence 9-1-1 calls
  • Use new interviewing, evidence gathering, and probable cause determination techniques in domestic violence cases
  • Enhance the safety of victims of domestic violence and of officers responding to domestic violence calls
  • Apply federal and state laws pertaining to domestic violence
  • Identify liability issues for dispatchers/call takers
  • Describe the dynamics of domestic violence
  • Identify the impact of domestic violence on society.

Depending on state regulations, individuals who complete this training will receive 12 hours of POST certification. This training is tuition-free. Participants are responsible for their transportation, lodging, and meals.

Domestic Violence Training Locations

NSA is selecting training sites for the Rural Law Enforcement Training: Domestic Violence Intervention and Investigation and for the Domestic Violence Training for Rural Communications Professionals (Dispatchers/Call Takers). Law enforcement agencies or other organizations interested in hosting a training should contact Tim Woods at 703.838.5317.

If you are in a domestic violence situation, I urge you to find help NOW. Domestic violence offenders typically, left unchecked, will progressively become more violent with each and every incident. And they won’t stop unless and until they are stopped for good.

If your Sheriff responds in such a manner as the one I dealt with, tell their public about it. Hold them accountable. The training is free; there is no excuse for deliberately ignoring a dangerous situation of allowing a domestic violence felon in possession of weapons and ammunition to go unchecked for six months, endangering innocent lives, and allowing a felon to go free after breaking Black Letter gun laws which, in the end, resulted in my son’s death on October 14, 2010.

*  *  *

I urge you to comment, to raise your voice and let your opinion be heard loud and clear.

If you are in a domestic violence situation, there are resources available on this blog site that can help you find your way to safety. Domestic violence ruins lives and in many cases is deadly. Do not ignore a situation that will not simply ‘go away’. Protect yourself and your children today.

Who thinks it might be time for this Sheriff to retire since he refuses to hold public safety above his own lack of interest for a very real cry for help from the “local law enforcement” that the State’s prosecutor directed me to contact… AND THAT’S YET ANOTHER STORY LINE ALTOGETHER!

Stay tuned because spilling my guts takes on an entirely different meaning than what my ex threatened me with so many times before.

(Don’t worry, blog posts will continue for a few months as I have them scheduled to run in lieu of my anticipated absence.)

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