John Battaglia murdered his daughters in 2001 and will be executed for the brutal slayings later today. Liberty was 9-years-old and Faith, 6, when their dad shot and killed them inside his Dallas apartment during a visitation.
Liberty and Faith were on the phone talking to their mother, Mary Jean Pearle, when their dad shot them.
“No daddy! Please don’t do it,” Pearle heard her daughter, Faith, yell just before shots rang out.
John Battaglia, Dallas accountant who murdered his ‘little babies,’ to be executed Wednesday https://t.co/ebFhCGKNSh pic.twitter.com/5dnkGbAy1t
— Sarah Mervosh (@smervosh) March 29, 2016
“Merry f**k**g Christmas,” John Battaglia, 60, was heard saying after murdering his daughters, USA Today reports.
Battaglia was an accountant and was estranged from his wife. Although there was an extensive history of domestic violence between the parents, supervised visitation was not ordered. No one close to the family reportedly felt the father was a threat to his children.
After hearing her daughter’s words and the sound of a gun firing multiple times, Mary Jean Pearle called 911 and drove frantically to Battaglia’s apartment. The panicked mother could only pace outside the door and assume the unthinkable had happened as police officers rushed inside.
Moments after arriving, the Dallas police officers emerged from the apartment with grim news: both little girls had been killed. John Battaglia was long gone before the police arrived. At some point after murdering his daughters, he left an eerie message on the girls’ answering machine.
“Goodnight my little babies. I hope you’re resting in a different place,” Battaglia’s message said, according to the Dallas Morning News.
Police officers ultimately caught up with him at a local tattoo parlor. The tattoo artists had just finished inking two roses on John Battaglia’s arm, one for each of his daughters, before the killer was placed in handcuffs.
“It’s the most empty feeling you could ever have in your life. They are everything. All your hopes and dreams… everything is gone,” Pearle said during an interview prior to the murder trial.
As a result of the gruesome murders and the outrage the crime caused in the Dallas community, child visitation laws were changed. Judges are now mandated to review any history of violence during divorce proceedings.
“In a lot of cases, it was not brought up that there had been domestic violence in that relationship that was dissolving… or there had been some danger to the child,” Family Place Director Paige Flink said.
The organization provides aid to abused spouses.
— Dallas Morning News (@dallasnews) March 29, 2016
The Family Place opened Faith and Liberty’s Place to provide a space for supervised visits with children who could be placed in potential harm if left alone with a parent. The facility is supervised by armed off-duty police officers. The facility can also be used as a neutral meeting placed for separated, divorced, or estranged parents to “exchange children safely.” Fink strongly believes that Faith and Liberty’s Place has helped prevent children from being harmed or kidnapped by their non-custodial parent.
A judge ordered Tiffany Ratcliff and her abusive ex-husband to meet at Faith and Liberty’s Place when it was time for their son’s visitation exchange. Ratcliff said she was terrified after leaving her husband, and the parents spent eight years meeting at the facility for both visits and exchanges.
Today, the parents have created an amicable relationship, and the dynamic between them has improved both their lives and the life of their son. Approximately 100 families utilize the services of the facility named in honor of the two little girls each month.
John Battaglia is scheduled to be put to death by lethal injection in Huntsville at 6 p.m. tonight.
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