Saturday, February 05, 2005

Trading in the Custody of Children for Financial Gain

Last week, as some small group of people might remember (due to the limited coverage of this story) there occurred a horrible murder of a 7 year old girl, Jerica Rhodes, alleged by her father, Christopher Rhodes, in Highland Falls, New York. It passed quietly; however, as it was NOT given the front page coverage or the thorough analysis it deserved.

Instead the propaganda machine commonly known as Fathers Rights and its many supporters immediately went into protectively spin-mode trying to spin this story as quickly as possible into something entirely different, then what it actually was.

What I read in this story was another judicially-sanctioned abduction of a child from its mother, this one ending in murder. My assessment of the motive for this abduction, based upon all the evidence, is that it appeared to be another attempt to trade in the custody of children for financial gain. Clearly Christopher Rhodes had no interest in parenting his daughter, since he dumped her off on his parents before the ink was dry on the papers giving him custody, so why in the world he would seek custody to begin with is a mystery only explainable by the possibility of financial gain. In this case, as in many other similar ones, it appears to have probably been an attempt to avoid paying child support.

This monster, Rhodes, after his successful abduction, then went back to his everyday routine, which, by the way included beating up other women of which he was charged previously by Jerica's mother.

Here is the version of events given by the murdered child's mother:

Lisa Mason is getting ready for a trip to see her daughter for the first time in five years.

She is crying because when she sees little Jerica Rhodes after the three-hour drive from her home in Syracuse, she'll be looking at her daughter in a coffin.

Thursday morning, 7-year-old Jerica was found stabbed to death in the boys' bathroom of the Sacred Heart of Jesus School in Highland Falls, where she was a first-grader.

Thursday night, Jerica's father, 27-year-old Christopher Rhodes, was charged with second-degree murder.

When they lived in the City of Newburgh in the mid-to late 1990s, Mason said, Chris Rhodes would frequently choke and hit her. The abuse started even before she became pregnant with Jerica, Mason says.

The couple's on-again, off-again relationship continued, with Mason eventually moving into an apartment with Rhodes in Highland Falls. Mason claims Rhodes continued his violence against her until Highland Falls police arrived one final time at their home.

Mason says police did not arrest Rhodes. Instead, she says, they took Jerica. Police Chief Pete Miller did not return a detailed phone call seeking comment on Mason's claims.

Linwood Rhodes Jr., Chris Rhodes' father, angrily dismissed Mason's charges. At a news conference, he said it was Mason who cut off contact, not the family.

Mason says she surrendered custody of Jerica voluntarily, thinking that it would be only temporary.


Now although I don't think Christopher Rhodes SHOULD be allowed to spin his web of deceit any longer, nevertheless in seeking balanced coverage, let's listen to this monster spin his tale now:

Highland Falls. In 1998, when his daughter was living among crack smokers in a squalid apartment in Bridgeport, Conn., Christopher Rhodes decided he had to do better for her.

The 20-year-old former schoolboy basketball star brought 2-month-old Jerica Rhodes to the relative stability of Highland Falls, where his father was the retired police chief and where his extended family has deep roots.

Today, a grand jury will hear evidence alleging that Christopher Rhodes stabbed 7-year-old Jerica to death in a bathroom at Highland Falls' Sacred Heart of Jesus School.

In the intervening years, court records and police reports show that despite Rhodes' brushes with the law, he and his parents were considered the best option for young Jerica.

In 2001, an Orange County Family Court judge gave custody of Jerica to Christopher Rhodes, who was 22 at the time. Jerica's biological mother, Lisa Mason, consented to the judge's decision, according to Family Court records.

Those court records also describe the conditions in the Connecticut apartment where Jerica lived for the first two months of her life.

The events leading up to the judge's custody decision are in dispute.

Mason says Rhodes threw her out of their home in 1998. Rhodes says Mason left on her own, abandoning Jerica while she was still breast-feeding her baby.

"Jerica wouldn't know (Mason) if she saw her," Rhodes' lawyer wrote in court papers during the custody fight.

In an interview yesterday, a tearful Mason said: "Nobody believes me, I tried to fight for her."

Mason filed custody petitions in 1998 and 1999, but she never showed up for court. In her papers, she claimed that Rhodes "has a history of domestic violence and is also emotionally unstable."

Still, Judge Andrew P. Bivona awarded custody to Rhodes in January 2001.


Well excuse me folks, but after reading this media-spun bullcrap, I'm actually thinking we should be recommending the father here for sainthood. Let's remember that we are talking about here, a monster, who even before he was accused of stabbing this little girl was guilty of another very serious crime, trading in the custody of a child for financial gain. Separating said child, while as a nursing infant from her mother, for same reason, financial gain, greed, selfishness. Christopher Rhodes apparently beat Jerica's mother up fairly regularly and then when she complained about it to the police, not only did she NOT get the assistance from said officers that she was expecting and entitled to, but instead she was separated from her infant daughter and NEVER allowed to see her again...Let me repeat that: mother and child NEVER allowed to see each other again.

This was all before the alleged murder.

So let just say that RHODES should not have the right to 'frame the story' anymore. That's over.

Okay.

Rhodes version of events is tainted, just like the story of ALL of the people who aided and abetted him in this situation, thus none of them are worthy of listening to, no matter what they say.

Okay.

Let's do something different for a change, let's give Lisa Mason the benefit of the doubt and listen to HER side of the story, instead of an unprincipled monster and other assorted enablers who assisted him in this monsterous endeavour...and this was surely a monsterous endeavour. Let's remember we fought a civil war in this country, not all that long ago, to ensure that no black children were ever separated from their mothers again, ever, without good cause...AND good cause does not fall under the category of stingy fathers and conniving politicians, working hand in glove, to balance their personal or public budgets on the backs of mothers and children...

Now back to Rhodes. It appears that there are MANY others who should be sitting in a jail cell now, right next to his and just to be certain nobody is missed, I'm going to make a list of the other possible suspects here who aided and abetted Rhodes and allowed this to happen.

Two responding police officers:
Were they following the law, since I never heard that when a mother called the police that she was being abused, that they were supposed to take her baby, leave the perp free and then he be allowed to just toss complaining mother out of the house. So this needs to be investigated as to whether or not the officers in the field followed the rules.
The Judge:
Did he follow the law when he awarded custody to this abusive man Rhodes? Why weren't the mother and child placed in a temporary shelter so they could both be together and protected; as what idiot would think it's okay to separate a nursing baby and its mother? Was Judge ruling based on GALs report or Evaluation or on just what he felt like doing that day? Was he under any pressure from county oficials to keep public benefits levels low or from Fathers' Rights advocates to favor fathers in custody rulings. After his ruling, was any follow-up done to ensure that the temporary custody was reviewed at some point to see if child should have been returned to its mother; as was the original premise behind mother agreeing to this temporary custody in the first place. Is it possible that a review would have shown that there was something wrong with the entire Rhodes' clan and this poor child should not have been left there. Maybe, just maybe little Jerica would be alive today if this Judge had done his job properly.
Father's Lawyer:
Was he aware of anything 'shady' going on here. I'm curious due to his comment that baby Jerica wouldn't even recognize her own mother. I mean my response would be to him, well how come she would not know her own mother? How did that happen? It appears that this attorney was aware, very early on then, that Jerica's mother was being kept away from her...and this is pretty common with these judically-sanctioned abductions by the way. So the question becomes what did this lawyer know and when did he know it and did he report it to anyone so steps could be taken to investigate the situation?
Grandparents:
What role did these two enablers place in this little girl's life as well as her death? Did they lie to the Judge to enable Christopher Rhodes to get custody? Did they help him keep mother away from child to continue this custody? Did they know that their son was a menace and if they did; how come they kept letting him alone around that little girl?

The bottom line is that a thorough investigation needs to be done regarding why this mother and infant were separated to begin with. Inquiring minds want to know if this is a regular event up there and, if so, why so. As we didn't fight a whole freakin Civil War in this country to keep black children from being sold for financial gain, only to have a group of stingy fathers trying to avoid paying child support and their Republican allies trying to cut back on public benefits in their county, sneak the whole concept right in through the back door again.

Trading the custody of children for financial gain NEEDS to be stopped immediately and the people involved with it put in JAIL like yesterday and that includes stingy fathers, conniving politicians, sleazy lawyers, lazy judges, careless evaluators or guardians, enabler grandparents, step-persons and anyone else who might be involved. We need to ensure that any others who were involved in this horrible situation, who aided and abetted Christopher Rhodes in anyway OR who might be involved in similar situations that we don't even know about YET, we need to ensure that they are held accountable as well, since Christopher Rhodes did NOT commit all of his crimes alone. He had plenty of help before he ended up where he is today and we want all of the people who helped him to be properly investigated and punished acordingly.

A special federal investigator should be appointed to investigate this situation immediately, as it's not the first time I've heard of this going on in upstate New York and like many other people, I might add, I'm getting sick of it.

39 comments:

Pseudo-Adrienne said...

That horrific story is an example of one of the fundamental flaws, or in this case--fatal flaw--of the Father's Rights Movement that I noticed.

Apparently every father (that is not married to the mother or even have a committed relationship with her) is some kind of tragic victim and the mother is always the one the deceitful plot. Even though in this case, the father is cleary not the victim. He was a woman-beater and an unfit parent, but the court gave him custody anyway. And the police did not arrest him for spousal abuse, but instead took the Jerica away from her abused mother.

Jerica and her mother should have been taken to a shelter immediately and Rhodes should have been prosecuted for spousal abuse. Obviously this "court" has been intimidated behind the scenes by FRA advocates.

It doesn't matter what kind of flaws or criminal record, or drug-habit the father has because to the MRAs and to the bullied courts, he (the father) is some kind of victim deserving of sole custody. And I've noticed that courts seem to view single mothers as unfit so they are inclined to be biased against them.

There are so many appalling "foul plays" within this case it is beyond unfathomable--especially since a seven-year-old girl is DEAD because of it. I thought of my seven-year-old niece when I read this and was very disturbed. There have been cases here in Indiana of children dying due to negligence while in the "care" of their unfit fathers who were awarded custody by courts who are under the influence of FRA advocates. And in these cases, the single mother was more stable and fit than the father who was usually recently released from jail/prison or in constant run-ins with the law.

More and more children are clearly being put in danger due to these courts who are terrified of the FRAs and children are dying and being abused because of it. Family Court is a tainted system which is why I'm staying the hell out of it.

NYMOM said...

"More and more children are clearly being put in danger due to these courts who are terrified of the FRAs and children are dying and being abused because of it. Family Court is a tainted system which is why I'm staying the hell out of it."

The problem is that the only way that women can ensure they stay out of the Family Court system is NOT to have any children...since as soon as you get pregnant really, a woman is at risk...AND I'm not sure if that's totally fair to ask women to do that anyway; plus I won't even get into how that will impact our society in the years ahead if more and more women start doing it...

The bottom line is that WE, WOMEN in ALL of western society are the electoral majority and these situations would end TOMORROW if we wanted them too...

Obviously MOST women don't feel threatened enough yet to take any steps...but they will, over time, they will...

Actually every month I'm going to do a little memorial post on this little girl, so she's not forgotten... since if you noticed, she's already not in the news anymore; already on her way to being swept under the rug.

Pseudo-Adrienne said...

The problem is that the only way that women can ensure they stay out of the Family Court system is NOT to have any children...since as soon as you get pregnant really, a woman is at riskPerhaps women who want to have children should be encouraged to use anonymous sperm donation so we don't have to worry about dying out or relying on immigrants for sustaining the population. Less hassle because the anonymous sperm donor can't come back a few years later demanding "rights" and other things.

Granting, that these women who seek anonymous sperm donation are financially and emotionally stable, I have no problem with it. But really, women should be careful in protecting themselves from unwanted pregnancies (ie: proper use of contraceptives) and stop sleeping with random guys especially unstable, abusive men like Rhodes.

I don't know the financial cost behind using anonymous sperm donation but if it's expensive then, well, it should be reduced so more women have access to it.

NYMOM said...

"There have been cases here in Indiana of children dying due to negligence while in the "care" of their unfit fathers who were awarded custody by courts who are under the influence of FRA advocates. And in these cases, the single mother was more stable and fit than the father who was usually recently released from jail/prison or in constant run-ins with the law."



Also have you noticed how in many of these cases it's kept on the 'downlow' that these are single custodial fathers involved in these situations...I mean I find it's darn difficult to find out the status of these monsters in many cases...Frequently I find they even pose the female step-person as the mother (like it's become a generic term for whatever step-person or girlfriend happens to be hanging around)...so you never really GET the full story unless you really investigate...

Additionally racial status is kept very much on the 'download' in these cases, especially involving infants...so I'm just wondering if a LOT of young black women are losing custody to fathers, simply so the county doesn't have to pay out much in welfare benefits...This seems to have been the impetus with this Jerica Rhodes situation; as I don't understand the reason her mother and her weren't sent to a domestic violence shelter and the b/f sent to jail right from the beginning...It has been mentioned in some news stories (again on the downlow) that he has been consistently arrested up there for beating up some other women and other children could be involved too...

So I'm thinking they should investigate those grandparents. I mean do they have custody of other womens' children as well? This could even be a racket to either get benefits or other monies from these mothers in the form of child support by this guy. I mean I never heard anyone say what he did for a living, so I wonder if he's even working?

The bottom line is that upstate New York's family court system has been a cesspool for a while now and it's about time it was investigated...

NYMOM said...

"Perhaps women who want to have children should be encouraged to use anonymous sperm donation so we don't have to worry about dying out or relying on immigrants for sustaining the population. Less hassle because the anonymous sperm donor can't come back a few years later demanding "rights" and other things."

Well many countries are actually stopping anonymous sperm donation precisely for that reason...They don't WANT women to have that option...

Plus I don't think most women feel comfortable with that manner of conceiving themselves...and I'll admit to being a little uncomfortable with it as well...although one of my favorite lines is "a test tube is cleaner, quieter and a LOT less trouble then the average man"...LOL and it's usually a real crowd pleaser when I make that comment amongst certain groups...

Still I have to admit to having reservations about it. Probably this male pill business will wind up pushing more women into using it anyway. So let's see what happens in the future with it...Men seem determined to drive themselves further and further onto the margins of family life, but at least it might end these Jerica Rhodes' situations as I see men like this Christopher Rhodes as a definite candidate for using this pill and NEVER having children. I don't even think a lot of men want to be involved with children, so clearly when they have a choice now, most will say no...

Probably good...less problems for mothers and children.

NYMOM said...

Last point before I go to sleep...

I believe a LOT of these new laws they are passing presumbably to stop gay couples from adopting are really aimed at single women...Not that many gay men adopt or go the whole sperm donor/surrogate mother route as it's expensive and MOST men are not that interested in kids...at least I don't find them to be...so all of these new laws on the books are really directed at women as they compose about 2/3 of the clients at fertility clinics now...It used to be infertile married couples and a few single women, now that equation has flipped...

So this is a way to stop single women (either gay or straight) from having children on their own, not gay men...About 17 states, I understand are going to be having laws on the books now, that single parents who try to adopt (and eventually this will spread to fertility clinics as well) must be screened to ensure they aren't gay...Frankly I don't think they are after gays as few of them do these things, their real target is single women...to stop them from having children unless they are married or within some other form of relationship with a man...

It's probably chivalry again....

LOL...

This appears to be our mens' latest kick...they're all practicing chivalry and that justifies everything they will do...

Pseudo-Adrienne said...

I call it 'traditional bias'. Children can only be conceived and raised within traditional/heterosexual marriages to some of these backward states. Sadly my state is one of them and is pushing to ban Gay/Lesbian adoptions, and there is bias against single mothers within the state's Family Court.

My sister-in-law's friend (a single mother) almost lost her kids last year to the father who BURNED DOWN HER HOUSE DURING THE TRIALS!!! Thankfully his legal bullsh*t in Family Court failed.

But the hidden ideology is obvious; if men aren't present in the form as 'head of the household' or 'patriarch' (and it has to be a hetero male remember) then it must be an abomination, and must be banned by Law. Whatever.

Yep, there are still men out there (Conservative male politicians and MRAs in this case) who view themselves to be the center of the societal universe by virtue of their penis. Again, whatever. The prescence of hetero men does NOT determine the morality or legality of anything.

NYMOM said...

"But the hidden ideology is obvious; if men aren't present in the form as 'head of the household' or 'patriarch' (and it has to be a hetero male remember) then it must be an abomination, and must be banned by Law. Whatever.

Yep, there are still men out there (Conservative male politicians and MRAs in this case) who view themselves to be the center of the societal universe by virtue of their penis. Again, whatever. The prescence of hetero men does NOT determine the morality or legality of anything."

But the problem is that the law is slowly constructing a corral, if you want to call it that, which is bit by bit herding more and more women inside as all of these laws are closing up loopholes and options for women to have children WITHOUT having to accept the authority of these patriarchal concepts.

Because once something is law, you have to obey it...unless you want to become an outlaw...but if you wish to remain in civilized society amongst your family and friends, then you HAVE to obey the law...no matter how unfair or unjust you think it is.

So to say that states are making these laws but we're not going to pay attention to them ain't gonna cut it...because as soon as you have a child, you and that child are SUBJECT to those laws and to the whim of the man who is the legal father of said child, who, at any time, any time, can show up and demand his rights and you know what, he'll get them.

No matter how good a mother you might be or how wrong you think the law is...HE will get his rights...

AND believe me I have seen plenty of good, educated, smart, nice women laid low by these laws...many of them losing custody of their children and having their lives tototally destroyed...so it's not just the Lisa Masons of the world that this is happening to...it's thousands of other women who did everything right and then this happened to them anyway...even after following all the rules.

Of course, as I said earlier women can chose NOT to risk this modern day horror, by chosing not to have any children (which many educated and upper income women do today). Yet I don't know if it's fair for women to HAVE to exist like this and deny ourselves something that is essential to the nature of woman and, in spite of everything feminists and others say, I happen to think having children is essential to womens' nature, it is...

So again I have to ask why must womens' participation in life be limited, because as soon as we have a child suddenly a noose is dropped over our heads and we're caught by an a@@hole who contributed like a 2 minute sperm donation...

WHY?

You see that's my basic problem here...and I don't see women getting upset about it.

Yet I hear MEN screaming about t-shirts and having to register for Selective Service by dropping off a postcard at the post office...YET women, are having all this crap going on with our children and we're not mad yet?

I just don't get it.

I mean where's the line in the sand for women that if you do THIS, that's it, the sh*t's on...

I'm still trying to figure it out...

Pseudo-Adrienne said...

I don't get it either. I don't understand why a court take away a mother's child(ren) all to satisfy one man's greed. Even if the mother is financially and emotionally stable, never had a run-ins with the law, and is a good mother, the court will allow some guy (who probably wasn't even supportive of the woman while she was pregnant nor was he present during the birth) to waltz on in and demand this and that.

That's the biggest flaw of the FRA Movement. Many of these men are unstable in many ways and yet they claim they're perfectly fit to handle the responsibility of raising a child. Yet they conveniently show up in the mother and child(ren)'s life much later. It's some kind of cruel joke. It would be like my biological parents showing up one day when I was still a kid to my adoptive parents home (I've never seen nor met my bio parents) and demanding me back, and saying they had lawyers and everything.

The boderline sociopathic FRA men only infuriate me now. After reading their exlpoits, reading their manifesto, and listening to their misogynistic abuse of mothers I knew that these men were NOT good fathers. These men are an insult to decent, loving, and good fathers/men like my Dad who would never do something as stupid as becoming one of these men. But then again, he would have no reason to because he handled his parental responsibilites from day one.

Unlike the FRA men who are mostly unstable men who were never around during the pregnancy or even the child's early years of life but then conveniently showed up, my father married my mother, then had children, and then took care of parental obligations, even after the divorce many years later. Now he takes care of his family obligations to his grandchildren.

These FRA men are a blight and an insult to REAL fathers such as mine everywhere. And good mothers everywhere as you said, are loosing their children due to their bullying of courts, lawyers, judges, and even politicians.

And they say feminists ruined the nuclear family...whatever. What else could be more damaging than snatching a child away from its mother who was always there, doing her damnest to care of her own children even if it means sacrificing luxuries for herself, and then giving the child to some unstable guy who was barely if ever there for the mother or child?!

NYMOM said...

"Unlike the FRA men who are mostly unstable men who were never around during the pregnancy or even the child's early years of life but then conveniently showed up, my father married my mother, then had children, and then took care of parental obligations, even after the divorce many years later. Now he takes care of his family obligations to his grandchildren.

These FRA men are a blight and an insult to REAL fathers such as mine everywhere. And good mothers everywhere as you said, are loosing their children due to their bullying of courts, lawyers, judges, and even politicians."

Well this is part of my problem as well since I do NOT understand why married fathers support single men who do these things...I mean do they realize that single men have to play by NONE of the rules, NONE of them, YET the minute these prodigal fathers decide they want to be dads, they turn up on the courthouse steps and get the exact same rights as married fathers with like one-half of the obligation that a married father is stuck with...

I mean what's the incentive for men to marry if single men get the EXACT same legal rights with half the investment that married men do...If I were a man, I'd say WTF, what am I marrying for and assuming ALL this responsibility and then this jerk shows up after doing NOTHING and suddenly we're both fathers with the exact same legal rights, no difference...

It's ridiculous and frankly if I were a married man and father I'd be mad...but no one seems to care about the disparity here with the exception of me I sometimes think...even this business where they want to give fathers six months of paternity leave in England now (and usually what happens there eventually happens here)...well what's to stop some jerkoff from disappearing for your entire pregnancy (as I've heard of men abandoning women when they become pregnant, even dumping them off pregnant at a homeless shelter) THEN showing up right after delivery and finagling six months off of work with 80% of pay...claiming paternity leave...

I mean as always he'll find some enabler idiot either his mother or latest girlfriend to dump the poor baby off with while he's lounging around on the couch all day watching TV or outside hanging around in the local pub talking about how great it is to be a dad...

Again WTF, everybody would love a nice six month vacation with 80% of pay AFTER doing absolutely NOTHING to bring child into the world OR even help the mother bring child into the world by paying her rent or buying her a freakin slice of pizza once in a while to ensure she's eating something...

Yet everybody's running around praising this initiative like it's the greatest thing since sliced bread when it's so obvious it will be used by the most irresponsible sector of fathers, just like every other policy we've ever gotten passed for the benefit of fathers.

I mean I understand it's a race to the welfare office in some states between the mothers and never-married fathers to see who can claim the benefits first and this benefit will be no different...mothers will be forced back to work early, while some human slug will be sleeping in every morning...probably have the poor baby crawling around serving dad breakfast in bed and acting like a human channel changer for the TV set...

It's just amazes me that what appears to be so obvious has people with their mouths hanging open everytime you bring it up...

I mean common sense doesn't appear to be too common these days...

NYMOM said...

By the way, I revised the post on Jerica Rhodes to make it more focused. I wrote it in a hurry yesterday because someone else who lives in upstate NY wanted to see it...but it's a little better now that I revised it...

So look at it again if you have aome time...

Also I wanted to do a little memorial post on this little girl every week or two, so she doesn't get swept under the rug as I can see happening already...do you have any ideas for websites with prayers or something, sayings, songs that I can access to get material from...

Anonymous said...

I am a mother of a 6 year old girl in Ga. Not only did I feel the pain of Jerica’s death, but the horrendous treatment of Lisa Mason. My family is from Highland Falls, NY. I have spent much time there and even know the Rhodes. When my mother told me of this tragedy I was in complete shock. Along with the shock I would look at my 6 yr old daughter and feel saddened and disgusted. I have been following this story through the news and my family from the very beginning. My mother and aunt told me of the controversy as to whether Lisa would be granted a private viewing with her daughter. At that point I would have done anything to be in Highland Falls to support her. The next morning I read the article regarding that subject and instantly replied with a letter of concern to the reporter. Following is my letter to recordonline.com - The Times Herald-Record

My family is a family that has lived in Highland Falls since my mother was
> a child. My mother is now 55 years old. Although many of my family
> members have left Highland Falls there are many still there. I have spent
> much time in Highland Falls and know many of the residents, including the
> Rhodes family. When I was told about Jerica' senseless and malicious
> death, I was disgusted and saddened. I have been following the story ever
> since. Not only has Jerica's death effected me, but also the treatment of
> the mother, Lisa Mason. I was literally angered when it was questioned
> whether Lisa would be able to have a private viewing with her daughter. I
> do not know Lisa to even attempt to make a judgment about her. At the
> same time for the people that do know her, their opinions and even factual
> knowledge is
> irrelevant. Jerica was her daughter and nothing else matters. She may
> have been a drug user, drug dealer, prostitute, or any other discreditable
> thing out there, but absolutely none of that matters. Lisa deserves the
> respect and acknowledgment of being Jerica's mother. She deserves to
> mourn as much if not more than anyone. I am a current resident of
> Georgia, and Monday morning I did not want anything more than to be in
> Highland Falls to support Lisa. In your article the following was
> written, In an interview yesterday, a tearful Mason said: "Nobody believes
> me – I tried to fight for her." I wish I knew Lisa to let her know that
> she has a lot of supporters who are former Highland Falls residents, their
> families, and people all over the country. I am sure that she has
> supporters in Highland Falls also,
> but knowing the Highland Falls mentality, most of them will not speak out.
> That is not to be taken as a derogatory statement against the residents
> of Highland Falls but it is reality. Not only do I support her, but I and
> many other completely believe her regarding the history of her
> relationship with the Rhodes family and Jerica. This is not an opinion
> formed by a people just reading articles and watching the news, but from
> people that know the parties involved.
>
> My prayers, support and thoughts are with Lisa and her family. There will
> be Justice for Jerica.

I totally agree with you as far as the other participants in this crime. There are so many things that I know have gone on over the years that I actually blame Chris’s parents more than I blame Chris. If you create and protect a monster, you are to blame. I am to disgusted to type any more at the moment. This is quite emotional for.

Please keep Lisa in your thoughts and prayers and there will be Justice for Jerica.

PB

NYMOM said...

"My mother and aunt told me of the controversy as to whether Lisa would be granted a private viewing with her daughter. At that point I would have done anything to be in Highland Falls to support her."

Can you imagine this even being an ISSUE...I mean how dare they even make this an ISSUE...It's just one more outrage...It's positively medieval...I was just enraged while I was reading about it, enraged...


"She may have been a drug user, drug dealer, prostitute, or any other discreditable thing out there, but absolutely none of that matters. Lisa deserves the
respect and acknowledgment of being Jerica's mother. She deserves to mourn as much if not more than anyone."

AND we do not KNOW this yet as fact...this was information taken from an interview with the father, who has and should HAVE no credibility...so until I see creditable information from another reputable source, I'm chalking that info up as just more 'media spin' put out by father and his supporters...

AND he has MANY supporters, many supporters on the 'downlow' up there who would LOVE for this little girl's life and death to be 'swept under the rug' so they could just continue what they're been doing up there w/o any questions...


"Not only do I support her, but I and many other completely believe her regarding the history of her
relationship with the Rhodes family and Jerica. This is not an opinion formed by a people just reading articles and watching the news, but from people that know the parties involved."

But I think we must look at ALL the parties involved even the ones you might NOT know...from the officers who originally responded to the first call and put this whole series of events in motion by taking the baby out of the house, instead of the father. Those officers are not blameless, not yet anyway, not until we know WHY they acted as they did...

Even the Judge who ultimately sent Jerica to her fate must have his record examined...

There is a larger question out here too which is how many OTHER Jericas are out there, that we don't know about yet. That's the real question...since I don't believe this is a one-time event...but a pattern of behavior on the part of the officers in the field who were the first to respond, to the Judge who awarded custody to a father who clearly had no interest in being a parent, yet was given custody...

So we need to investigate EVERYBODY involved...not just Christopher Rhodes as he had PLENTY of enabling that helped in getting him to the point he's at today, PLENTY of it...


"I actually blame Chris’s parents more than I blame Chris. If you create and protect a monster, you are to blame. I am to disgusted to type any more at the moment."

Yes, his parents were enablers and deserve to be punished, but so do others...and most importantly we need to find out if this is part of a wider pattern and if other Jerica Rhodes are out there, taken from their mothers by these gender-neutral social engineers colluding with selfish fathers trying to get out of paying child support.


"Please keep Lisa in your thoughts and prayers and there will be Justice for Jerica."

I fully intend too...I'm going to have a little memorial post for her every week or two here, for at least the next year.

Everytime I update my site, I'm going to mention her...

So if you are in touch with her mother...let her know...

Her and her daughter will be in my thoughts and on this site for the next year...


I just want to thank you too for caring about this poor little girl and her mother...and sharing your insights with me.

Peace...

Anonymous said...

I Would Like To Thank All Who Acknowlegde "ME"!!!
All I Ask From You Is to Continue To Pray!!!
I Can Not Begin To Express How Important It Is To Know...
"I'M NOT ALONE"!!!

All Of You Are Giving Me So Much Hope!!
Please Continue To Pray For My Baby And The Justice She Deserves!!!
"GOD BLESS EVERYONE OF YOU"!!!!

NYMOM said...

I, personally, intend to do all I can to help get justice for this mother and her little girl...AND to ensure that other mothers and children are NOT in the same situation due to greedy and selfish politicans and fathers colluding for financial gain...

Porscha said...

I am such a supporter of the fact that is so many others to blame. The family, the town of Highland Falls, and the supposed "Judicial" system are to blame. I know Highland Falls and the people of the city. It is a small town with a small town mentality. This is why I am speaking up on every website and writing to the reporters. I feel that if we speak up it may lead to others speaking up. I am sure that many friends, residents and family were clearly aware of the things that were going on that lead to this horrific situation. As a matter of fact I know this to be true. My aunts, cousins etc…. is now speaking of “I remember when…..” Whether they were witnesses or it was hearsay, it was known or thought by someone.

It is so unfortunate that something so terrible had to happen. Yet, now is the time to take action to try to prevent things like this from happening again. Let that one cop feel the pain and see the wrong, so that if he is ever put in a situation as these cops were he may think different. Let that one person that may witness abuse think twice about being quiet. Let that one family member be able to determine and report wrong despite blood and love. In other words, let try to make a difference.

My heart goes out to Lisa more than you know. This story has really affected me. Because I know the family and people of Highland Falls? NO! Because I am a mother first but at the same time, just human with genuine feelings.

Justice for Jerica!

NYMOM said...

Thanks so much for coming here Porscha and giving us your insight.

There are some news stories coming out now with additional information on what happened, so I'm hoping that at least we can save Lisa Mason's reputation from being savaged, although we could not save her child.

My other hope is, as you say, that changes are made to the laws so that police officers, Judges and family members are also help accountable in these situations for enabling these abusive men to get custody for no other reason but financial gain, pure and simple...

Please stay in touch...as I will begin doing a memorial post for Jerica every week or so for the next year...just so she doesn't get 'swept under the rug' by people who would rather we quickly forget all about her...

Peace.

Porscha said...

I just wanted to share the following article...

Highland Falls – More than 200 sobbing, clapping, singing and sometimes laughing people filled the Highland Falls Middle School auditorium last night with memories of 7-year-old Jerica Rhodes' brief life.
It was a life that still touches many.
She was beautiful but a bit clumsy. She stepped on her coat. She couldn't keep still on her first-grade classroom rug at Sacred Heart School. She was always in motion, talking and chasing the boys on the school playground.
Her first-grade teacher, Diane Di Palma, said that in a poem delivered through tears.
Jerica had "a heart full of butterflies and dreams," she said.
Jerica wanted to be a mother and a singer. In fact, Jerica could sing "He's Got the Whole World in His Hands" and include everybody except the dog, and add a whole lot of people she loved to the Gospel verses, Di Palma said.
The little girl spent days in "sunbeams without a care," Di Palma said.
Jerica, said others, might have been lost in darkness, stabbed 16 times in the Scared Heart school bathroom on Jan. 27, but last night her life was called a light for the living to follow.
The town might have fallen "upon its knees," after the terrible murder, Linda Reynolds said, "but we all came together seeking an answer to our sorrow."
The Rev. Moses Carter, Jerica's pastor at St. John's AME Zion Church, warned that the community should keep Jerica's healing powers alive.
Highland Falls Mayor Joseph D'Onofrio, a principal organizer of the interfaith service last night, swung everyone into Jerica's favorite, "He's Got the Whole World in His Hands." "Sing it loud, the way she liked it," said the mayor, even though "she's in the room, and she hears us."

NYMOM said...

"...Jerica, said others, might have been lost in darkness, stabbed 16 times in the Scared Heart school bathroom on Jan. 27..."

Stabbed 16 times...

Your hometown really has to get the others involved with this...I'm not JUST talking about the murderer...but everyone one helped, aided and abetted him in this endeavor...and that includes officers who responded to call SEVEN YEARS AGO, as they were the ones who laid the groundwork for the original judically-sanctioned abduction...

The Judge who initially gave Rhodes custody, his attorney and the enabler grandparents and any others groups or organizations involved that helped this character...

I think that every custody case that Judge ruled on has to be re-opened...and those officers investigated to see if they've been following procedures when they respond to domestic violence calls and if they have been, then procedures need to change...

QUICK...

Pseudo-Adrienne said...

"Stabbed 16 times..."

WTF?!!! What possesses a person to stab a child sixteen f**king times?!! Oh yeah, placing the girl with Rhodes was such a good idea. I'm sure this would not have happen had Jerica been handed over to her mother. After all, the mother was NOT the abuser of the relationship. Family Court is a cess pool.

NYMOM said...

"WTF?!!! What possesses a person to stab a child sixteen f**king times?!!"

Exactly...

When I originally heard about the crime, they never mentioned she was stabbed 16 times...that's shows hate of a person, real hate, when you stab them that many times...not to mention did you see the size of that guy...HE WAS HUGE, an ex-basketball player in high school. I mean imagine him after a 7 year old with a knife...

It just boggles the mind really...

Which brings me back to what I said earlier: what possible motive could this man have for taking custody of a child he not only had NO interest in (which is what I orginally thought) but now it appears he actually HATED her, just hated her, after having custody of the poor kid for 7 years...

I mean when you have a DOG for 7 years you form a level of affection with the creature that would stop you from doing something like that...

Stabbing somebody 16 times, it shows a real deep-seated hatred of the person...

I mean we are really looking here at two crimes as far as I'm concerned, 1. taking custody of this child for financial gain, as that is the ONLY motivation I can see for his behavior; and, 2. a horrible, brutal, murder...

The other thing is that I don't understand why he was ONLY charged with second degree murder...as this crime was heinous...

I am not a believer in the death penalty but a second degree murder conviction doesn't even carry LIFE in prison...and I AM a believer in that...

I can easily see him coping a plea now to second degree murder and no trial...which means we will NEVER know the answers to our questions...

PLUS, how many OTHER mothers and children are in the same situation... with their children in the custody of someone who just wanted to avoid paying child support...

AND God only knows what those kids are going through...

Porscha said...

Since you mentioned the "Hatred" I have to state my feelings...

When I was first told of the story I thought there was no way Chris could have done this.... Yet, when I was told of the numerous stab wounds it changed my mind. To stab someone that many times is definitely PERSONAL. How do they say... a crime of passion. Then to stab someone in the head is unthinkable. I was so disgusted I could do nothing but cry.

We teach our children to trust us as parents and that a parent will never steer us wrong. Wow! I just cannot think of the right words to express how I feel.

I grew up going to Highland Falls and would have an absolute ball. It was a small town, everyone knew everyone, and I always felt safe. I don't think I could ever go back and see/feel the same way.

I type on this msg board with so many feeling but get a loss for words cause there is no way to express such disgust. Yet, I know that I have to speak out for Jerica, Lisa and all the other children out there.

NYMOM said...

"When I was first told of the story I thought there was no way Chris could have done this.... Yet, when I was told of the numerous stab wounds it changed my mind. To stab someone that many times is definitely PERSONAL. How do they say... a crime of passion. Then to stab someone in the head is unthinkable. I was so disgusted I could do nothing but cry."

Well I had the same thought.

Clearly this was someone who had a deep hatred for this child to commit a crime like this...I could even understand if, in a moment of anger, he pushed her or something, he was a big guy so he could have accidentally hurt her like that...but to stab her 16 times...

Thus, I have to say the people who enabled him to get custody of this little girl are just as guilty as he is...I have to say it...as he never should have had custody of this child and would NOT have without their help...

The original officers who responded 7 years ago, the Judge, GAL involved, custody Evaluator, grandparents, all HAVE to accept some responsibility for this crime...

I'm sorry to say it but it has to be faced...this was a failing of the TOWN, the system, not just one person...but many...

Anonymous said...

My husband and I had a custody case going on in front of Judge Bivona at the time of little Jerica's murder. Needless to say we lost custody even tho the children are almost 16 and 14. The judge paid absolutely no attention to the trial and did not spend any time with the boys. He spoke to them for all of 20 minutes at their lincon trial. These 2 children have sustained such abuse both mental and emotional and some physical in their mothers care at the hands of her current husband it is rediculous. The step father has not spoken to the older boy in a year in a half and the last words he did say to him were if you step out of line again i will f*cking kill you. Judge Bivona said to the mother and stepfather that their behavior was reprhensible and that they owed these 2 boys an apology but he felt that there was not any real danger even tho the boys stated that they wanted to live with us. Even the mental health evaluater said it would severly injurious to send them home to their mother. I can't understand where this guy is coming from, if anyone has any info on him can you please let me know. This judge needs to be looked into very carefully.

NYMOM said...

Well I can't say much about it except that maybe he was leaning more pro-mother then and now since the murder of Jerica Rhodes...

But surely there was a better way to settle your situation anyway then going to court? I mean those boys are 14 and 16 years old, generally court is reserved for younger children.

Wasn't there a better way to address this through negiotating something?

Anonymous said...

No not really, their mother is a real b*tch. Her new husband has a lot of expensive "toys" and to her and him these 2 children are pay check. Funny huh, because usually it's the other way around. There is no negotiating with this woman. We didn't even want any child support from her, just that the boys were happy. And now she hasn't even had the boys back 4 days and she is already denying us visitation with them. She's saying we can only have them the weekends my husband is off from work, which is 2 weekends a month, and they're back to back. So we'll only see them once a month. It's just that with their ages and all the evidence that was presented in court you think the judge would have listened and done the right thing. We're all very upset, it just doesn't make any sense.

silverside said...

I tried to google Judge Bivona and saw very little.

However, I think for some of these judges, it's not so much being pro-mother or pro-father as being hacks who do the politically expedient thing (remember that Jerica's paternal grandfather was the former chief of police for Highland Falls). I think some of these guys are rampantly indifferent as to what happens to a child, and if it's a black child, they're even more indifferent.

NYMOM said...

"No not really, their mother is a real b*tch. Her new husband has a lot of expensive "toys" and to her and him these 2 children are pay check. Funny huh, because usually it's the other way around."

Well I guess the bottom line is that we must work to make children not worth anything; otherwise these situations will never end. Changing the child support guidelines in our country appeared like a good idea at the time, but in practice has winded up making children a 'prize' to be won which has enabled the winner to use these kids like a little ATM and I guess it has to stop...

NY doesn't even ALLOW you to buy too much life insurance on children for that reason, so allowing child support is the same principle and leads to the same result...

It should be phrased out and made more like public benefits where if you are making a certain amount of money, you are just not elgible for it...NOT should never-married men EVER be made to pay it...

NYMOM said...

Actually married women can just go back to alimony (which was dying out for a while due to child support undercutting the need for it) but, in retrospect, I think women and children were better off with alimony ONLY as it left the children OUT of the financial negotiation...if you wanted custody fine, but there was no financial advantage either way...same with visitation, if you wanted more fine, but no financial advantage accrued to you because you had more visitation...

Never married women should never be allowed to file for child support in court, but really low income women could STILL have the state chase fathers for partial reimbursement of any public benefits they need to collect.

Unfortunately, allowing custody to decide financial issues appears to be a complete failure for our society...

Porscha said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
NYMOM said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

First Off..."I DID" and "STILL DO" PAY Child Support to Christopher Rhodes and for you to feel the way you do is your right but at 19 and with no family to advise me it was hard to fight and to everyone including my state aid laywer i was another number!!!! and the reports in the papers are false!! I never stated that i thought chris was not her father in fact when i was in court with the rhodes family i stated to judge bivona (believing that it would help get custody of my daughter back)that he was not! but chris stood up and told judge bivona that he and his family had recieved a personal paternity test through thier practioner. So Please before you point fingers everyone involved in her life is truly to blame...Including myself which i've been beating myself in the head with since the day the rhodes got custody...Just because my story is not on every cover page or on the news does not mean the murder of my daughter is not more then i can bare!!!In fact every time i turn around someone is bashing me including the rhodes and personally ..WHY ME ONLY!!!I take blame and they are not stating they are on the hunt for the murder instead of their son...just what a horibble mother they claim me to be!!!!

Anonymous said...

Know me for a moment.... Im a a Mother of not only Jerica but of four other children One of which my oldest went through all of the turmoil of fighting the rhodes and chris he is now 10 years old and can tell you things about his life while we were living with chris that would have your mouth hanging..he now has problems with his self as a boy but that he will soon become a man and is afraid of turning into a person such as chris rhodes and wonders why i had loved a man like this and allowed him to tear our family apart. I also have a 6 year old daughter to whom was birth during the seperation of myself and chris and wanted to know every day why our letters and cards and pictures where being returned that was sent to her sister and what has she done as a person to have the family so mad they wont let her talk to her sister.i was able to remove mysef from the situation in time to save my children and myself. i have custody of all my children ages 10,6,3,1 OK!!! And never have taken the fathers of my children to court and not because i cant because I WON"T!!! You see i was a child who was brought up knowing my father but was never excepted because i was half black and even though my mother was young and struggling she always said that a man should want to take care of their children and not be made to!!!And i still believe this!!Some women have one night stands and decide to bring a child into the world not knowing how to support this child and sometimes women have children just to keep a man... I AM NOT THIS WOMAN!!! I have been blessed with all my children and i can state that none of them where wanted by their fathers or thier fathers families beliving that i have raised and loved and charished every moment and second with my children taking full responsibility of all my children including Jerica!! She was takin from me in bridgeport conn when she was 2 months i followed after her father battling right from wrong in order to stay in her life and i was paying for child support and as of today i still pay and she's no longer here!!! So Please Get to Know Who I am And What is going on first before you floor me and think less of me..Im not asking any one to feel sorry that i don't need just understand that she is gone and I AM still fighting this battle!!!

NYMOM said...

"So Please Get to Know Who I am And What is going on first before you floor me and think less of me..Im not asking any one to feel sorry that i don't need just understand that she is gone and I AM still fighting this battle!!!"

Well I'm sorry if you were misjudged. It's difficult when one doesn't know all the facts; which is why I didn't say anything sooner until I replied to someone else who mentioned it on my blog.

I knew about it a week ago but I had decided not to mention it on here, until someone else did.

This is a site which I've created in an attempt to improve the image our society has of mothers (especially single mothers and non-custodial ones). This is a struggle, as you yourself know, as the media has another negative story about a mother in it each and every day.

Thus, I will always support a good mother who is struggling as I am to fight any negative images about women in their role as mothers.

AND will support you in that role as well.

Peace.

Anonymous said...

Thank You NyMom.. for taking the time to listen for a moment and for the prayer you've posted on your blog..I suppose i would say that each of us know a little bit more today then we did yesterday..Thanxs

Porscha said...

Well! I really had to sit and think for a moment after reading your post. Let me explain myself and my perspective. As I stated early in the posting, I have much family in Highland Falls and know the majority of the residence. I know what the people and the town are like. Even though I have never lived there, it is still like another home for me. When I heard of this tragedy I was devistated. I have written letters to a reporter from recordonline and have even spoken with him. I supported you soooo much it was almost like I knew you and it was personal. Even though it is irrelevant, I have even lived in Utica. I am a person that when you were denied a personal viewing I wanted to fly into Ft Stewart and be there for you. I thought so much about all of this and my thoughts did not come from a msg board or just what is being reported. I know the Rhodes and others. I have a deeper insight than a person reading the paper. Yet at the same time, i know that a lot of what I was getting from friends and family was assumptions and hearsay. It didnt matter to me. What has happened is unspeakable.

I too waited to mention the paternity issue because i didnt know what to think of it. My first and foremost thought is that it doesnt really even matter. A terrible crime has been committed and to me Chris did do it and he needs to pay. Yet that is my own personal feelings and I could be wrong. Yet I have to say that I was disgusted to find out that Chris was not the father. I know you have been through a lot in your own life, and I with the Rhodes. I know about things that arent printed. Not to put anything out there, but I know about a situation as far as your 6 yr old wanting to "Meet" Jerica. I know that with Rhodes being the "Chief" you were in a no win battle. Yet at the same time, I feel that you know you and your doings and if there was doubt that Chris was the father and you knew the type of man he was that was your perfect opportunity to find out the truth. That is only my opinion though. I am also open minded enough to say that no one really knows what they would do in a situation until they are put in it themselves.

Regardless of all that, I have supported you and will continue to support you. If you saw the letters I have written to recordonline you would truly belive me. What you did then and who the father is is your business. Yes, I was bothered by it, but you have my total support. I am sorry for offending you and for not taking enough into consideration prior to posting. I am a single mother of a 7 yr old and I know how tough life can be. If there was anything I could do to ease any of this for you I would. Like I said I have taken this personal since I found out as if I know you. Now that I think about it I think that was why that irritated me. Again I apologize. At the same time, you do not owe any explainations to anyone. You are Jerica's mother, you were done terribly wrong, and deserve some type of peace. I hope the peace you need comes to you and I hope that Jerica's murderer gets what "He" deserves.

Anonymous said...

Highland Falls suspect seeking release on bail

Prosecutors yesterday urged a judge to turn down a bail request by a Highland Falls man accused of stabbing a 7-year-old girl to death.
Defense lawyer Sol Lesser argued that if Christopher Rhodes is released on bail, he would be strictly supervised by his father, Linwood, who's "tougher than any ankle bracelet," like the kind probationers wear to monitor their movements.
Orange County Court Judge Jeffrey G. Berry said he'll issue a written decision on Rhodes' bail request and ordered him to return to court on April 5.
Rhodes, 28, is accused of stabbing Jerica Rhodes 16 times the morning of Jan. 27 and leaving her bloody corpse in a bathroom at Sacred Heart of Jesus School in Highland Falls.
Rhodes believed Jerica was his daughter, but DNA testing after the homicide revealed that he wasn't her father.
Rhodes is charged with second-degree murder. Prosecutors argued that the seriousness of the charge, coupled with previous failures to appear in court in other cases over the years, made Rhodes a bad bail risk.
He's been held in Orange County Jail since he was arrested on the same day that Jerica's body was found. Rhodes maintains that he didn't kill her.

Dene' said...

I am one of these single mothers who is fit and raised an honor role student to now age 12 who has been forced into reunification with a man she did not know who was released from prison! They have been destroying our lives for 2+ years and the whole thing smells like political crap.
He miraculously upon release from prison quadrupled his pay from any annual salary he had made in the past. The owner of the company he is working for has some sort of pastoral designation yet many complaints of this company state they cannot be christian due to business practices.
He has a high paid lawyer and I have not much but have fought with my "pea shooter" best I can in this war.
I have owned a home for 17 years and a small business for 21 years which I beat the odds even starting. I am losing everything on top of my health and my childs happiness.
They are using the Parent Alienation tactic with horrible bold faced lies and the worst insults and description of a childs mother from a hired gun court rostered psychologist along with the father and his counsel. My heart is broken. I am told these are all just words they are calling me but THEY ARE LIES! Honor and integrity means something to me along with TRUTH. There is nobody who would testify that a shred of his insults of me and the child are true but they are allowed! The whole thing is so bizzare there has to be an agenda with federal grant money or something beneath this.
This man threatened to cut my baby out of my stomach. He has been diagnosed with multiple mental problems and I have given this evidence. There is documented years of harrassment and abuse. 3 past orders fo protection. He has been a career criminal and has spent the past year using his court ordered reunification to abuse the child emotionally to a degree she is not the same at all. I see her eyes filled with tears as she clutched her stuffed animal crying looking out the window of the psychos office as they locked her in repeatedly cause she ran away and hid in a tree she named "Wolly". I can never get these visions from my mind. I feel like I will die early from this and I was a tax paying law abiding citizen which would not fit their criteria of why we should federally fund these men who are shameless with multiple felonies (9 that I am aware of along with multiple misdemeanors) to destroy lives like this.
I taught my daughter to love life. Give back and we did charity work together. I am so disgusted with our society there are no words to describe the violations this has been and continues to be.
Sorry for the rant but I hope it helps and lets others know they are not alone.

NYMOM said...

"Blogger Dene' said...

I am one of these single mothers who is fit and raised an honor role student to now age 12 who has been forced into reunification with a man she did not know who was released from prison! They have been destroying our lives for 2+ years and the whole thing smells like political crap."

Political correctness is a better description of what is going on in the courts, the media, even governmental programs today. I understand President Clinton passed a mandate before he left office that every program have 50% men participating in it...I'm still trying to figure out why men would think they should be entitled to the WIC (Women, Infants, Children) benefit...