Gabriel ArmandarizThe charges against Gabriel Armandariz are almost too gruesome to recount. Not only did he allegedly kill his two young sons -- Gatlin, 2, and Luke, 6 months old -- but after he did so, he sent their mother gruesome pictures of their dead bodies, including one of Luke being hanged.
A custody hearing was scheduled for today, but last week, Armandariz started sending their mother and his ex-girlfriend, Lauren Smith, ominous text messages. One came with a picture of them lying on a bed with him, with a caption that said, "We love u goodbye."
Douglas Ames, who owns the restaurant at which Smith works as a waitress, recounted for ABC what happened after she received the image and spoke with Armandariz on the phone:
He kept saying, "I can't believe you're making me do this" ... we hear what we believe to be him [Armandariz] hanging himself. The phone went dead.
The horror that mother must have felt when the line went dead is overwhelming to even contemplate, only compounded by the fact that after calling police, it took 10 hours to find the boys. They were eventually found dead.
The story is a gruesome example of how awful custody disputes can get, and how it's the lives of children in the wake as the adults battle it out. Even in cases that don't escalate to this extreme level, the fighting between parents takes its toll on the innocent children caught in the middle. I think if there's any value in sharing this story, it's bringing to light just how highly charged custody issues can become. While no one likely could ever see something this horrific happening, it's important to know that it can.
Armandariz has been charged with capital murder and is being held on $1.5 million bond. I can't imagine any punishment that begins to befit the horrors he committed, though the case happened in Texas, a state that does embrace capital punishment. Even that, however, seems to pale in light of the irreparable damage he's done.
Have you ever been involved in an ugly custody dispute?