Family of 5-year-old homicide victims says police, legal system failed him
The family members of a boy allegedly murdered by his mother says they are angry that police and the legal system didn't do more to protect him.
Jude Murray-Gomez, 5, was found dead after a small fire at the Hill Park Apartments on Friday morning. An autopsy report showed that he had drowned and did not die in the fire. His mom, 42-year-old Shannon Dodson, faces a charge of first-degree murder in his death. When firefighters responded to the fire, they found Dodson wet and naked inside a closet. Jude was wrapped in a smoldering blanket between a bed and a wall. Dodson's arrest affidavit details how detectives asked her if she knew why they wanted to speak with her and she said, "because I killed my son."
The affidavit said she started to cry and said she shouldn't have done it, she didn't know why she did it, she thought they would go together and she couldn't believe she did it. A background check shows no prior criminal convictions for Dodson.
Jude's father's family told KRDO NewsChannel 13 that Dodson had problems with mental health and drug abuse, but they never expected her to kill her son. Jude's aunt said the family was disappointed that Dodson was granted unsupervised weekend visits with Jude but that they accepted it because they thought it was best for Jude to spend time with both his mother and father.
On Friday, Nov. 1, Jude went to spend the weekend with Dodson. He was supposed to return to his grandmother, Jillian Gomez, on Sunday afternoon. However, when Gomez went to pick Jude up from her apartment, the two were nowhere to be found. The family says they called police, who told them it was a civil matter and they would have to take it to court. The family says they went to the courthouse, filed a contempt of court, and checked back every day asking for something to be done. An active search was never issued, according to the family. Jude missed school at Widefield Elementary for the entire week before he was found dead Friday.
KRDO NewsChannel 13 asked the Colorado Springs Police Department on its protocol for issuing a missing child report.
The following is a written response from CSPD:
"There is not a set time frame that a child becomes missing or endangered. When we receive information, the responding officers/supervisors considers the totality of the situation when considering the proper course of action. This may be anything from a runaway report taken to a full-blown response by the police department. It is very much a case-specific answer."
As for issuing Amber Alerts, the state of Colorado follows recommendations rather than rules.
The following is a summary of the Department of Justice's recommended criteria:
- There is reasonable belief by law enforcement that an abduction has occurred.
- The law enforcement agency believes that the child is in imminent danger of serious bodily injury or death.
- There is enough descriptive information about the victim and the abduction for law enforcement to issue an AMBER Alert to assist in the recovery of the child.
- The abduction is of a child aged 17 years or younger.
- The child's name and other critical data elements, including the Child Abduction flag, have been entered into the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) system.
Jude's family also wonders why Dodson's adult daughter, Casey Poe, did not report her mother's behavior to authorities.
Detectives spoke with Poe after the alleged murder. Dodson's arrest affidavit says that Poe told detectives that she had a conversation with her mom on Nov. 4, days before Jude died. According to Poe, her mother said she wanted to die and would kill Jude and herself. Poe said she talked with her mom about it and her mom agreed not to do it.
Dodson was advised of the charges against her on Wednesday. She is being held without bond.
The Department of Human Services encourages the community to watch out for suspected abuse and neglect. If you suspect something, call DHS at 719-444-5700.
Copyright 2013 KRDO. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.