Domestic violence plagued family before mother allegedly killed her children, documents show

A 41-year-old South Florida mother was arrested last month, accused in the killings of her two young children.

MIAMI – A 41-year-old South Florida mother was arrested last month, accused in the killings of her two young children.

Authorities found Odette Joassaint’s son and daughter dead inside their home in Little Haiti.

The state records regarding Joassaint, her children and their father go back to 2017.

That November, the Department of Children and Families started an investigation over domestic violence in Joassaint’s home.

The records show it was an abusive relationship

According to the documents, while Jossaint and her husband were fighting, she “bit his right arm and would not let go, so the father/paramour ‘fist palmed’ the mother’s forehead with enough force that she let go.”

Joaissaint would end up homeless, staying for some time at the Lotus House, a women’s shelter in Miami.

In February of 2020, DCF received allegations that Joaissaint “has not been taking her depression medication. There is a concern for her ongoing ability to care for the children. She has been having delusional thoughts. She has been acting bizarre.”

But in that case, and previous ones, DCF said there was no evidence observed to support that there was an immediate threat to the children.

Even as recent as March of this year, DCF documents show the children’s father punching Joaissaint in the face four times.

About a month later on April 12, Joassaint allegedly killed her two children: 3-year-old Jeffrey and 5-year-old Laura.

Surveillance video captured the troubled mother pacing in front of her apartment.

Officers arrived at their home on Northeast 75th Street and 1st Court and found Joassaint in emotional distress, possibly hallucinating and uttering the words “come get them I don’t want them anymore.”

Police found the children dead inside of the home, face down and tied up in a bed.

DCF sent Local 10 News a statement regarding the incident. It read:

“Every day, staff at the Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF) have the difficult responsibility of protecting Florida’s children while only removing children from a home if a parent is unfit to care for their children or is likely to harm their children. In this case, DCF investigators were very involved with the family and recommended many services, but there was no history of physical child abuse to the two young children that would have led to their removal. Still, you will find from these records that as DCF staff interacted with this family, they recommended many services that were ultimately refused, while those very services may have resulted in a much different outcome.

“It is for this reason that DCF recently launched the Family Navigator initiative to enhance the safety and well-being of Florida children after a report of potential child abuse or neglect. When a vulnerable family is assigned to a Family Navigator, that person will stay with the family, and rapidly engage with services through providers and community organizations. This resource focuses on supporting family well-being, understanding the needs of families contending with complex family dynamics, substance abuse and, in many tragic incidents, mental health crises.”


About the Author:

In January 2017, Hatzel Vela became the first local television journalist in the country to move to Cuba and cover the island from the inside. During his time living and working in Cuba, he covered some of the most significant stories in a post-Fidel Castro Cuba.