A New Mexico father is facing charges for the death of his daughter, after the child’s mother reported that he had Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder during a custody battle.
The Albuquerque Journal reports, neighbors say Brandon Reynolds, 36, had recently begun home-schooling his 5-year-old daughter Sarah Dubois-Gilbeau. They described him as “very strict.”
— Shellye Leggett (@ShellyeKOAT) April 6, 2019
Sisters Evelyn and Karen said they lived next Reynolds for five years.
“[Sarah] never went anywhere. [Reynolds] didn’t believe in school because he didn’t want her to grow up in this society. I don’t disagree with that, but she didn’t have no friends.”
Further, the sisters claim to have suspected abuse for quite some time although there’s no evidence of them reporting it to police.
“You can hear everything through the walls.”
However, on Thursday night Karen would hear Sarah’s cry for the last time.
“Sadly, she heard her last cry for help.The walls aren’t too thick here.”
According to police, Reynolds beat his daughter to death that night with a green water shoe because she refused to complete the homework he’d given her.
According to the Albuquerque Journal, bruising that stretched from Sarah’s neck to her buttocks were consistent with “the tread of a shoe.”
In the complaint, a detective wrote:
Once he realized she was lethargic he cradled her on the floor of the living room.
However, it would be hours before Reynolds called for help. He spent time icing the child’s back before placing her in bed and listening to her heartbeat.
— Shellye Leggett (@ShellyeKOAT) April 5, 2019
When Sarah’s heartbeat became faint and her breathing became “shallow,” her father dialed 911 around 1 a.m.
When the Albuquerque Fire Rescue arrived, reports say that Sarah was having a heart attack, they found her unconscious, pulseless, and not breathing.
The Albuquerque Journal reports that Reynolds stood by “emotionless.”
Firefighters called police to investigate and a neighbor told officers that she’d heard someone being hit with something and Reynolds yelling “get up.”
However, Reynolds initially told officers varying accounts of what happened, including that his daughter “suddenly stopped breathing” while falling to sleep.
Doctors at the University of New Mexico Hospital pronounced Sarah dead on Friday morning.
The Albuquerque Journal reports that Reynolds was granted full custody of Sarah, due to concerns regarding her mother’s marijuana use.
Court records state:
Since her birth, the child has been in the custody of the father since the child tested positive for THC at birth and contrary to instructions from the birth hospital, mother was observed breast feeding the child when she was positive for THC. He has been her primary caregiver and remains the sole legal and physical custodian of the child.
However, records also show that Chantel Smith had quite an argument against Reynolds having custody.
Smith, who is now 38, wrote:
Brandon Reynolds has PTSD which causes him to not be able to handle or care for a child properly. He also has a history of abandoning the mother and that may follow through with the child.
Since Sarah’s death, local residents have creates a memorial outside of 1414 Amherst. It consists of flowers, a candle, a teddy bear, and a stuffed Ninja Turtle.
According to the Albuquerque Journal, neighbor Karen said:
“You don’t think stuff like this happens, and then it happens right next door. You don’t know how to react. The little girl you just saw a couple days ago, you’re not going to see her again.”
Sarah’s favorite colors were pink, purple, and blue. She also loved Tingley Beach. However, neighbors remembered her most for her smile.