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March 16, 2014 by Robert Franklin, Esq.

Theresa Riggi is dead. She killed herself in a prison hospital in Scotland after having been sentenced to serve 16 years in prison for killing her three children. Here’s the latest (Mirror, 3/10/14). And here’s my first and second posts on her case.

There’s a message here for all those, like the National Organization for Women, who pretend that parental alienation of children doesn’t exist and that it’s just a scam by evil fathers to take children who rightly belong to their mothers. Theresa Riggi was a deeply disturbed woman who did everything in her power to alienate her three children from their father Pasquale. For far too long, courts and custody evaluators went along with the NOW take on parental alienation, and the result has been horror and tragedy for all concerned.

Theresa and Pasquale were married and had three children, twins Austin and Gianluca who were eight at the time of their deaths and Cecilia, age five. The parents divorced and of course, despite her obvious mental problems, Theresa was given custody. But her narcissistic personality disorder led her to immediately begin a campaign of alienation against the Pasquale. He naturally responded by asking the family court for more time with his children and eventually primary custody.

As seems to be invariably the case, the court dawdled. That gave Theresa the opportunity to disappear with the children, and even then all the court did was issue an order for caseworkers to interview the family. This was a custody battle that had already dragged on for years, so such an order would have been too little too late in any case. But a funny thing happened; the order somehow disappeared. In what was surely a coincidence, the order was finally faxed from the court five minutes after Theresa had murdered the three children.

Police finally located her in a flat in Edinburgh, but took no action regarding the children or the court’s order. She was summoned to appear in court on August 3, 2010, but failed to do so. Yet another order was sent out, but it was too late.

Theresa had a final telephone conversation with Pasquale in which she accused him of trying to “take” her children. He replied that her alienating behavior had left him no choice, to which she chillingly responded “then say good-bye.” He would never see his children again.

Theresa stabbed the children to death using a different kitchen knife for each child. The little kids tried to defend themselves against their much larger and stronger mother, but to no avail. Each was stabbed eight times. Each died in the third-floor flat. Theresa then turned on the gas stove and allowed the flat to fill with gas. It exploded and she threw herself off the balcony, apparently attempting suicide. She failed and was arrested. Eventually she pled guilty to the Scottish version of manslaughter and was sentenced to 16 years in prison.

As a child killer, she wasn’t popular among the inmates, one of whom attacked her and slashed her faced, disfiguring her permanently. Theresa was transferred to the prison hospital where she was able to do what she’d tried the day she stabbed her children to death.

Look at the consequences of courts’ blind desire to give custody of children to mothers at all costs. Look at what can happen when the concept of parental alienation is ignored. Those are both things those opposed to fathers having custody of children promote as a matter of course – maternal custody and the disparagement of the idea of parental alienation. NOW does both. No feminist organization has yet to support any bill before a state or national legislature that would increase fathers’ parenting time with their children. The frank bias of family court judges in favor of mothers and against fathers is a matter of public record.

And this is what can happen. Three beautiful little kids hacked to death by a mentally unbalanced mother, that mother injured in her suicide attempt and eventually imprisoned, only to be attacked and disfigured herself before taking her own life. And of course a father bereft of his children. Who can imagine his anguish? Take a long look at the tragic toll taken in this case. Judges, custody evaluators, children’s welfare agencies and the like who all-too-readily ignore fathers in favor of mothers regardless of the obvious risk to children played almost as great a role in this case as did Theresa Riggi.

The anti-dad crowd is ever-ready to pretend that fathers are dangerous to their children. As I’ve pointed out too many times to count, they can’t seem to come up with a single instance in which an abusive father actually received custody of his children. But I can point to countless cases in which the converse – abusive mothers getting custody – is true. This, obviously is one.

And yet family courts just continue doing what they do – taking children from their fathers for no good reason and to the detriment of all family members. That social science is now clear that shared parenting is good for kids and parents alike is yet another fact ignored by those courts that never cease repeating that everything they do is in “the best interests of the child.”

Every bit of this tragedy could have been prevented by the simple expedient of handing the children over to their father, a man who is responsible and loving. Supervised visitation by Theresa until she could demonstrate her reasonableness and competence as a parent and a person would have served both her, her children and her ex-husband well.

But no. No matter how plainly incapable of good parenting she was, the courts of Scotland gave custody to Theresa and kept the children with her despite all the ominous signs. The rest is tragedy. There is a price to pay for anti-father bias. Too bad it’s so often paid by children.

National Parents Organization is a Shared Parenting Organization

National Parents Organization is a non-profit that educates the public, families, educators, and legislators about the importance of shared parenting and how it can reduce conflict in children, parents, and extended families. Along with Shared Parenting we advocate for fair Child Support and Alimony Legislation. Want to get involved?  Here’s how:

Together, we can drive home the family, child development, social and national benefits of shared parenting, and fair child support and alimony. Thank you for your activism.

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