FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Disturbing details are emerging about the murder-suicide of John Stacey and his 4-year-old son Greyson Kessler.
Court documents reveal that Stacey had been abusive toward the mother for several years, and that the threats began escalating over the past month.
In fact, the mother, Ali Kessler, tried to have police remove Greyson from the condo building where Stacey lived, but the day she filed the court paperwork was the same day he killed the boy, and then himself.
Kessler filed an emergency order on Friday, asking that the boy be removed from his father’s care because he was in immediate danger.
She alleges that Stacey hadn’t taken her son to school in two days and police couldn’t locate him.
Later that day, officers found the boy and his father dead inside Stacey’s condo at Las Olas by the River on Southeast Fifth Avenue in Fort Lauderdale.
“I was taking my dog for a walk, and we saw the police out front, and we just overheard them say it was a murder-suicide,” said John Vece, who also lives in the condo building.
Fort Lauderdale police said Monday that a preliminary investigation revealed Stacey shot and killed his son before turning the gun on himself. It is believed the shootings occurred sometime on Thursday, police said.
Local 10 News has learned that on Wednesday, after Kessler received additional threatening text messages from Stacey, she filed a domestic violence injunction for a restraining order, which would cease time sharing of the child until a hearing could be scheduled.
This included a 234 page .PDF file of threatening messages that Stacey had sent to Kessler. She provided evidence of stalking behavior, including fake social media accounts that Stacey allegedly created.
Had this injunction been granted, the child would have remained in Kessler’s care and the restraining order would have been in place for both Kessler and Greyson.
According to the petition for injunction for protection against domestic violence, five days before the murder-suicide, Stacey texted Kessler: “You deserve to have your head separated from your body. But I am not the violent type. God will deal with you.”
Kessler said Stacey had been sending her threatening messages and texts ever since he found out she was pregnant.
She wrote: “Mr. Stacey was a previous member of the cult the Moonies about five years. Upon being released, he has not received treatment or therapy to address his PTSD from the cult, or anger he has for me having his child. His behavior is erratic and escalating and I fear for my life, my boyfriend’s life and most of all my child.”
A service will be held for Greyson at 11 a.m. Wednesday at Menorah Gardens & Funeral Chapels in Southwest Ranches.
A representative for the family released a statement on their behalf, which can be read in its entirety below:
The family of Greyson Martin Kessler is devastated by the loss of our baby boy. Greyson was the kindest, smartest, most animated kid we have ever known.
Greyson’s mother, Alison Kessler, did everything she could to keep her child safe from harm. 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.
Greyson was the light of our lives, and the world is darker without him in it. Those who wish to help can donate to our GoFundMe.
The GoFundMe page was started to help the family with funeral costs and other legal expenses.
Local 10 News also reached out to the 17th Judicial Circuit in Broward County and they sent the following statement:
“The 17th Judicial Circuit is aware of the tragic situation reported in the news over the weekend. Judges are prohibited from commenting on pending proceedings and cannot discuss the specifics of any orders. It cannot be stressed enough that if someone has reason to believe a child or any other person is in danger, they should call law enforcement --- in all instances. We extend to the family and mother of this horrific event our deepest condolences.”