FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Exactly two weeks after a 4-year-old boy was found fatally shot in a murder-suicide carried out by his own father in Fort Lauderdale the community is seeking justice.
On Thursday, June 3, the community came together in Downtown Fort Lauderdale in a march calling for reform in the courts to prevent this tragedy from happening to another family.
The tragedy began on Thursday, May 20, where Fort Lauderdale Police Department detectives believe 47-year-old John M. Stacey shot and killed his son, Greyson Marin Kessler, before turning the gun on himself at his apartment located in the Las Olas by the River, located at 520 SE 5th Ave. in Fort Lauderdale.
Records show Greyson’s mother, Alison Kessler, filed an emergency order the day after, on Friday, May 21, when 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.
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, 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 had been fighting in the courts to get him out of his father’s custody after Stacey sent her pages and pages of abusive, threatening messages, but with no luck. She was trying to get the courts to revoke Stacey’s custody rights, saying in an injunction that his behavior was erratic and escalating, and that she feared for the lives of herself, her boyfriend, and most of all, Greyson. “His behavior is erratic, escalating, and I fear for my life, my boyfriend’s life and most of all, my child,” she said.
However, a judge denied the request. Hours later, Greyson was killed.
Now, the family feels the courts dropped the ball, which is why they and others have gathered in Downtown Fort Lauderdale to march from the county courthouse to the federal courthouse carrying signs calling for the system to change and better protect children.
“He was just a delight, a golden child, that’s all I can say,” says his grandmother, Ronni Kessler. “He was... I don’t know how I’m going to get through this without him. We want reform in the court system so that another child will not meet this horrible fate.”
“Greyson was a beautiful child, he was animated, he was smart, he was funny,” his grandmother added.
Click here to view the GoFundMe page for Greyson.