Domestic Violence and Child Murder: Red Flags

Paola Rossetti
6 min readNov 28, 2020

Abusers are gaming the legal system and children are paying the price — their lives.

Why are so many children still murdered by parents and/or family with histories of domestic violence when the red flags are right in front of us? The case of 8-year old Autumn Hallow in Minnesota was anything but justice:

“The last call made to police regarding suspected abuse and neglect of young Autumn was within two weeks from Autumn’s death.”

Ms. Kruse, Autumn’s mother, had a protective order (type of restraining order) against Autumn’s stepmother, who is implicated in Autumn’s death. In the months leading up to Autumn ‘s murder, many other calls were made to child protective services and police regarding concerns about suspected abuse and neglect.

According to the Center for Judicial Excellence, which tracks information on crimes of post-separation child murder:

From 2008 to today, 762 children in the United States have been murdered, many by a divorcing or separating parent with a history of domestic violence.

Concerns by Divorced Mothers Fall on Deaf Ears

Ms. Kruse’s legal loss of her child began in 2013 when she and Mr. Hallow went through a post-separation custody dispute. Fast-forward to April of 2020. Ms. Kruse had just plead to family court judge, Judge Yunker, to order Autumn’s father to release Autumn for court-ordered parent visits, which he had been withholding for three months straight.

Judge Yunker denied Ms. Kruse’s request.

Autumn never got to see her mother after that — she was killed at the hands of her father and stepmother. Judge Yunker apparently ignored Ms. Kruse’s cry for help to visit her daughter on the grounds that Ms. Kruse “failed to demonstrate that the current circumstances constitute an emergency” and indefinitely delayed any hearing until “COVID-19 pandemic orders permit.”

This judge failed to appreciate the criminal aspect of long-term isolation by Autumn’s father and stepfather combined with multiple reports of abuse and neglect of Autumn.

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Paola Rossetti

Health and disability law attorney and advocate. Testimony to remove a judge at https://malegislature.gov/Events/Hearings/Detail/4721/Video1 (start 2:04:00)