After ‘preventable’ tragedy, family prepares to bury boy in Broward

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – A grieving mother is preparing to bury her beloved 4-year-old son, Greyson Martin Kessler, on Wednesday in Broward County.

John Stacey shot and killed his son before turning the gun on himself just after Greyson’s mother, Ali Kessler, reported the boy was in danger. The parents shared custody and it was his designated time.

Ali Kessler told authorities she feared her father's son was going to kill him. On Friday, officers found both of them dead. She believes the tragedy could have been prevented.

Kessler alleged Stacey suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder after having been a member of a cult for about five years. She warned authorities that his erratic behavior was escalating.

“You deserve to have your head separated from your body. But I am not the violent type,” Stacey wrote in a text message to Kessler, according to court records. “God will deal with you.”

John Stacey killed his 4-year-old son before committing suicide last week in Broward County. (Copyright 2020 by WPLG - All rights reserved.)

Kessler told her attorney, police officers, and the court that she feared for her son’s life. She reported Stacey had placed a GPS tracker in her car. Records show she filed a domestic violence injunction for a restraining order on Wednesday.

Detectives believe the murder-suicide was on Thursday in Stacey’s apartment at the Las Olas by the River, at 520 SE 5th Ave., in Fort Lauderdale.

Records show Kessler filed an emergency order on Friday after Greyson missed school. That same day, her fears came true. Officers found Stacey and Greyson dead. She believes it could have been preventable.

“We feel that the system failed us at every level,” the Kessler family said in a statement.

Attorney Joyce A. Julian, who is not related to the case, has experience as a Broward County Circuit judge in family court. Judges focus on the child’s safety and the attacks appeared to target Kessler.

“How do you predetermine if somebody is going to commit suicide and take a child with them?” Julian asked. “That’s the mental health dilemma of all of this.”

Julian said if the judge had granted the restraining order it would have been a “paper shield.” Julian said having a mental health expert in court to pick up on the dangerous patterns could have potentially prevented the tragedy.

Sydney McLane and Ali Kessler set up a fundraiser on GoFundMe to help the grieving mother with the funeral costs and other legal expenses. The boy’s service is on Wednesday in Southwest Ranches.

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About the Authors:

Andrew Perez is a South Florida native who joined the Local 10 News team in May 2014.

The Emmy Award-winning journalist joined the Local 10 News team in 2013. She wrote for the Miami Herald for more than 9 years and won a Green Eyeshade Award.