An Arizona man, Jerad Arismendez, fatally shot his two daughters before turning the gun on himself on Sunday, People is reporting. Only months before, the mother of the girls had obtained a protective order against Arismendez after their divorce, accusing him of frequent harassment and violence. The former couple had been married for 16 years.
Audrey, 5, and Ariah, 4, lived with their mother, Carmen Castillo, but they were staying with their father at his Tolleson, Arizona, home for the weekend. Worried about the kids, Carmen had contacted police authorities to check on her ex-husband and daughters. It was when the responding officers arrived that they discovered the gruesome scene. Audrey and Jerad were found dead in the house. Ariah was rushed to a local hospital, where she eventually died of her injuries.
Carmen Castillo had filed a protective order against Jerad in June, alleging that her husband had “violent tendencies” and consistently showed signs of compulsive behavior.
The mother-of-two revealed that she was terrified of Jerad because her ex-husband was always aggressive towards her and lived close to her residence. According to Carmen, her former husband made 50 calls to her daily, issuing threats and telling her he was not afraid of the police.
“He lives 1 minute away from me and can come over to take care of me whenever… I fear for my safety as he has violent tendencies.”
Jerad Arismendez had been in trouble with the law before. In 2006, he pleaded guilty in two isolated incidents of disorderly conduct. In 2013, charges of criminal damage and assault brought against him were dismissed.
The custody plan etched out for the 36-year-old man was a straight forward one and the standard for a divorced American father. Jerad Arismendez had custody of his daughters on weekends and the holidays, including Father’s Day and his birthday.
The arrangement was reached in August between the two former spouses, and Carmen, who had expressed reservations about the “unrestricted” contact, had eventually given in to court demands.
However, in her parental filing, Carmen said she was uncomfortable with the way Jerad lived his life and felt it could endanger the children mentally, morally and emotionally. She alleged that Jerad was an alcoholic who never ran any background checks or drug screenings on his choice of roommates.
Carmen encouraged Jerad not to drink when the girls were with him and to run drug screenings and background checks on everyone living in his home as well. The mother always felt that Jerad’s hatred was towards her and not the children. She could not have predicted the tragedy that took place on Sunday evening that horrifically took the lives of her little girls.
Carmen said that after the separation, she had stayed in the area because Jerad had threatened to harm her if she tried to leave. She described an incident where her ex-husband was waiting for her outside her house as she tried to leave for work and held her in a chokehold. According to her, he seized her phones during the incident to stop her from calling the police.
Maria Garcia, a relative for the dead girls, has started a GoFundMe page to help with funeral expenses. Garcia said she was shocked to wake up to the terrible news that her baby cousins had gone to heaven just days after Audrey started kindergarten.
“Audrey had just started kindergarten and Ariah was looking forward to joining her sister in school. They were the happiest little girls I know and so full of life and happiness and adventure.”
As of the time of this report, the GoFundMe page has been shared 6,400 times and has amassed $14,890 in over 24 hours.
[Featured Image by Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office]