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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.