Editor's note: All names and locations have been changed to protect those parties involved. Lifethrudivorce is featuring Jake's story to bring awareness to mental illness and the difficuties one faces in the Judicial and Legal System.
It was decided I would have our daughter for Easter weekend. My wife claimed to be a Native American Shaman who practiced standard Pagan holidays. I was supposed to get my daughter on Friday, but my wife said someone had been in her trailer and it was not safe. She did not know where to go and she disappeared for the day. Late Friday night she called me and told me they were safe and sleeping in her car. She said she would call me the next day. I had talked to my lawyer the previous week. I had planned to take my daughter to my mom’s house for Easter and the following week. My lawyer said it would be ok if I told my wife about it before I left the city. I made reservations on Southwest Airlines for Friday evening. I pulled my truck into the garage and loaded our luggage into the tool box. I was worried my wife may have been watching the house. When she did not bring my daughter on Friday, I changed the reservations to Saturday evening.
Saturday morning my wife called. She and my daughter were safe, but she was unstable. Her mental state deteriorated since she didn't eat and she wasn't thinking straight. This is when she was the most dangerous. When she was in that state, she had to have meat, a small cheeseburger helps greatly. There was a McDonald’s near my house that our daughter loved because it had an indoor playground. I convinced her to meet me there and I would buy her lunch. I knew if I could get some protein in her I stood a better chance of getting my daughter. At the time, she had the car seat and I knew the police would let her keep Riley on that basis alone.
She pulled in and refused to come inside. I went out and asked if I could take my daughter inside to play and I would bring her food to her car. The playground was very secure and I knew most of the people working there and they all loved my daughter. Once she ate some food, she calmed down a little bit. I told her I wanted to take our daughter to an Easter Egg Hunt that evening. I said it would be better for my daughter to be with me until she found a safe place for her and my daughter. She agreed and I got her to let me put the car seat in my truck. After some more conversation, she left. I quickly put my daughter in the truck and we drove straight to the airport. When we got seated on the airplane, I texted my wife and told her my daughter and I were flying to xxxxx and how long we would be gone. I also said this trip had been documented by my lawyer, and then I turned my phone off. The flight was wonderful. My daughter and I played games; the steward staff loved her and took every opportunity to come play with her.
When I turned my phone back on there was a slew of threatening texts asking where we were and why I did not answer. I told her I would not respond to threats and shut off my phone. Over the week I sent her texts about what we were doing and pictures of my daughter's escapades. On Monday, she was served with the divorce papers and she went nuts. First, there were more threats, then bargaining, and then pleading. I was very tempted to give in and try to make it work, and then she would start leaving vile voicemails and more threats. I got to the point where I would only turn my phone on to send her an update, and I only did that because my lawyer advised me that the court would see me in a better light if I tried to keep communication open.
The day before we were set to leave, I called my wife. She was very quiet. I explained to her I could not live with someone who refused to follow the advice of the mental healthcare professionals. She broke promise after promise, threatened the life of our daughter, falsified evidence to get me arrested, and tried to kill me - repeatedly! I told her not to be at the airport when we returned; she would get to see our daughter, but only under my supervision. She was planning on moving out and going to live with her friends permanently. I was going to come get our daughter and take her to my house for Father’s Day; my wife would stay there until the court date for our divorce.
When I talked to her, I told her that would not happen. I told her she could move, but our daughter was staying with me. She asked if I would help her put stuff in storage and load some stuff on a U-Haul trailer to take to her friends, I agree to help.
The visitations went really well after we got back. My wife was pleasant and agreeable and I began to relax - a very big mistake! About two weeks before Father’s Day, I took my daughter and went to my wife’s trailer. She had other people helping and we took her stuff to the storage shed and packed the U- Haul for her move. After everything was done, she noticed her cooler had been taken to the storage locker by accident and asked me if I would get it. I agreed and went to the shed, got the cooler and returned. When I got back, her helpers were driving away. When I pulled up, she grabbed our daughter and ran into the trailer and locked the door. When I knocked, she told me to leave. I went to my truck to use my cell phone to call the police and found my phone was gone. I knew she would start her trip as soon as I left, so I went to her car- the doors were not ever locked- and popped the hood. I removed the coil wire and one spark plug wire and threw them in my truck bed. No one can be held responsible for what is in an open truck bed, if the police asked I could say she put them there to set me up. I did it to prevent her from leaving while I went home and got an old cell phone. Even if a phone is not active on a plan, you can call 911. My intention was to return, call the police, and let them sort it out. I felt I had the upper hand because I had the car seat, I did not know she had gotten a cheap used car seat.
When I returned, she was working on the car with her neighbor. She said our daughter was safe inside and my phone was on top of the refrigerator. She said I left it there, which I knew was untrue. I started to walk toward the trailer and she said I could not go on her property. I stopped. At this time, our daughter came toddling out and held her hands up for a hug. I picked her up and hugged her. My wife screamed and came running up behind me, using physical force. My daughter screamed! I managed to turn and use one hand to pull her hands off. She tripped on her flip flops and fell. I used that opportunity to get the truck open. While I was loading my daughter in, she attacked me. She ripped the back of my shirt to shreds and started screaming. I pushed her back and got in and closed and locked the doors. My wife was yelling and beating on the truck while I buckled my daughter in the car seat. I knew my wife would break the windows if I did not leave soon. My wife jumped in the truck bed and beat on the truck; I drove about five MPH with my flashers on while I called 911. I explained what was happening and where I was and where I was headed.
I was in xxxx city limits at the time, but I crossed into xxxx where the police stopped me. I stayed in the truck and the officer came to talk to me. I recognized the officer as one who worked at the McDonald’s as security on the weekends. He knew the situation but said it was up to the xxxx city police, because that was where the incident originated. Two KCPO units arrived and talked to my wife and the other officers. An officer came up to the truck and started yelling “WHERE IS THE F#$%ING GUN!” I was shocked and asked what he was talking about, and then I realized he had his gun holster unsnapped and his hand on his weapon. He asked/ yelled if I had a gun in the truck. I said no, and then he said “THEN THE PROPER RESPONSE IS I DO NOT HAVE A GUN OFFICER”. I was a little angry at this point and realized all was probably lost, so I said “I DO NOT HAVE A F@#$ING GUN OFFICER.” He told me to get out and he frisked me and handcuffed me. I found out later, my wife had told him I was armed and had threatened to shoot her and our daughter.
While I stood in front of the patrol car, in handcuffs, they took my daughter back to my wife’s trailer. By xxxx City law, in a domestic dispute if one person is bleeding- however slightly- the other person goes to jail. My wife had scratches on her hand from when she tripped and fell and although my shirt was in taters and I had scratches, I was not bleeding. One officer took my wife and daughter back to the trailer, the other talked with me doing the paperwork. When he went through my pockets, he found my military ID and a photo of a good friend who was a Metro police officer. We started to talk because he had prior military service and his wife was in the reserves. By the time we got to the police station, we were on good terms. One of them got me a disposable jail shirt to replace my shredded one, the other had the desk clerk expedite my paperwork and found there was a good bail bondsman in the building on another matter. He said the guy was good and they could have me out as soon as I could get someone to come pick me up. True to their word, I was done and waiting by the time my friend arrived to pick me up. I went home, walked to the CVS- they had towed my truck- and bought a disposable phone because my wife still had mine.
The next day I had to go to court and stand in front of a judge who did not even pretend to listen to my side of the story. My wife did not have to be there and he issued a restraining order against me and set a court date. Later I drove by the trailer and saw my wife had not left, probably because I had not returned the wires to her. There was a restraining order in place, so I could not talk to her. I found out later it took her three days to figure out what was wrong and replace the wires. Then she left and went to another state. I did not get to talk to her or my daughter until we went to court a month and a half later because I filed an emergency motion for custody.
At the motion hearing, my wife showed up, but our daughter was staying with a friend of her's. This judge was very nice and listened to both sides. He seemed very upset that my wife had not even allowed me to speak with our daughter on the telephone, even on Father’s Day. He awarded me primary custody and gave her visitation every other weekend and 2 hours on Wednesday night. She was ordered to surrender xxxx into my custody by 5 pm that afternoon. My wife insisted there be at least two police officers present when the exchange took place. The judge very sternly explained to her that the police were not to be involved in any way with the exchange because it was a civil matter. He did agree to allow it to be done in the police station parking lot. I showed up 30 minutes early with two friends that my wife knew and got along with. When my wife showed up, she held xxxx hand and walked straight into the police station. She refused to leave until they had one officer standing by her inside the police station and one beside me outside the station. Then she had one of the women that came with me come inside and bring xxxx to me. It took over an hour to accomplish the exchange of custody and my wife cried and screamed and yelled. xxxx was very happy to see me and I hugged her for all I was worth.
I told my attorney how things went, and she told the judge. From what I understand, he was furious! My wife had flagrantly disobeyed his direct order, and it did not sit well with him. During all exchanges, I made sure I had a witness with me and I recorded it on a microcassette recorder. I was not taking any chances. The visitation order stipulated that my wife’s oldest daughter, who was 16, would be present during all visitations. Her daughter knew how to handle her when my wife was having episodes, and on one occasion before the first arrest had actually taken xxxx into her bedroom and locked the door to keep xxxx safe. I later learned my stepdaughter had also taken a knife to defend them and opened the bedroom window so they could escape if my wife tried to come into the room. The visitations had some problems, my stepdaughter had a sleepover scheduled with a friend one weekend and I would not let my daughter go with my wife. I tried to trade a weekend, but my wife had to get dramatic about it and scream and yell. She lost the disagreement because it was spelled out in the agreement and took what I had originally offered.
After repeated delays and attempts at mediation, the court date arrived. On that day I found out that my wife's lawyer quit. My wife asked for a continuance, but the judge told her at the last hearing that no more continuances would be granted. The judge refused her request and gave her the option to represent herself or agree to my terms outright, she refused to agree with anything I wanted.
I had a very good attorney, but I was worried because she was so darned nice. She was so nice I even considered finding another attorney. I decided to see how she did, and I am glad. At first she was very nice while questioning my wife, but after she got the groundwork set she tore my wife to pieces. Then it was my turn. She asked me the basic questions and then it was my wife’s turn. Almost every question my wife asked, my attorney objected to and the judge sustained the objection. Needless to say, she lost the case. I left court a very happy man, and we celebrated.