Thursday, August 4, 2011

Weep Maryland Psychiatrist allegedly murders 13 year old with autism, self.

This story is from MyFoxDC . Our condolences to the child's father and other family. We'll discuss this in further detail soon. For now, just pray. For Benjamin, Margaret, all of us.

By BOB BARNARD/myfoxdc

WASHINGTON - Montgomery County Police say a well-known psychiatrist and author shot and killed her teenage son, then turned the gun on herself in a murder-suicide inside their Kensington home.

Police were called to the rented townhouse on Simms Court Tuesday afternoon. They say Dr. Margaret Ferne Jensvold, 54, was found in her bedroom with a gunshot wound. 13-year-old Benjamin Barnhard was found in his bedroom also suffering from a fatal gunshot wound. The Maryland Medical Examiner's Office has ruled the case a murder-suicide.

FOX 5 News spoke with the boy's father, James Barnhard, who calls his ex-wife a lovely person who likely killed their only child out of desperation and love.

Barnhard says Ben was tormented by bullies at school for being extremely overweight and on the autism spectrum.

Statement from James Barnhard, ex-husband and father of victims:

"I loved my son and ex-wife, and I was proud of both of them. My son was a successful graduate of Wellspring Academy. He was featured on "Too Fat for Fifteen: Fighting Back," and lost 160 pounds in the last year, due to his hard work and determination.

I do not understand this tragedy, and I do not know why this has happened.

I will hold them in my heart, and they will be sorely missed by all who loved them. Please keep us in your prayers."

By ERIC TUCKER Associated Press

A psychiatrist specializing in women's health and her 13-year-old son were found dead in their home in suburban Washington in a likely murder-suicide, police said Wednesday.

The bodies of Margaret Ferne Jensvold, 54, and her son, Benjamin Barnhard, were found Tuesday afternoon in their respective bedrooms. Police were called after one of Jensvold's co-workers reported being unable to contact her for several days. Jensvold was divorced and lived with her son in the upper-middle-class suburb of Kensington, Md.

Both bodies had signs of trauma, but police did not elaborate. Capt. Paul Starks, a Montgomery County police spokesman, said officers had obtained a search warrant for the home and were continuing to investigate but believe that the deaths were the result of a murder-suicide. He would not elaborate on what led police to that conclusion, and said autopsy results were still pending.

"We of course still have to gather all evidence," Starks said.

Jensvold was most recently working with Kaiser Permanente in Kensington, said her ex-husband James Barnhard, Benjamin's father. He said he was still in disbelief and had not yet heard a timeline from police as to what they believed happened. He said he had last spoken with Jensvold several days ago to arrange a time to pick up his only son from her house.

"Ben was a very sweet and loving child. I mean, he was just one of the kindest and sweetest kids a parent could ever wish to have," Barnhard said. He said his son had spent the last year at a weight-loss program in North Carolina and had shed more than 100 pounds and loved sailing and other water activities.

He said he had no indication of any problems between his son and ex-wife.

"She was always nice to Ben. Sometimes she could get a little frustrated with him, but she was always nice to Ben," he added.

In 1990, Jensvold filed a federal lawsuit against the National Institutes of Mental Health, where she had been a medical staff fellow.

She alleged that a male superior harassed her because she was female and fired her in 1989 before she could complete the third year of her fellowship program. An eight-person jury found in Jensvold's favor, but that decision was rendered moot in 1996 when a judge held that she did not have the right to a jury trial and called her version of events an "illusion" and "widely exaggerated and skewed."

"She's an incredible person. I know she struggled against significant adversity, personally and in her career, and overcame a lot of hurdles to do some wonderful research and be a really good practitioner," said Lynne Bernabei, an attorney who represented Jensvold in her case.

"I think she had a great compassion for women and improving the lives of women through good health research, and she had a real passion for that," Bernabei said. "It wasn't just a 9-to-5 job for her. She really cared."

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Sunday, June 19, 2011

John Burton, Age 7


It's a tragic ending for a 7-year-old boy who went missing on Sunday afternoon.

Officers with the Indiana Department of Natural Resources found the body of John Burton Jr., 7, in North Hogan Creek on Monday morning just after 9 a.m.

Police say Burton was playing with his dog Sunday afternoon in area of Park Avenue in Aurora near a creek. The dog returned to the boy's home at 451 Park Avenue and was wet, but the boy was not with the pet.

The family had just moved to the Aurora neighborhood this weekend, meaning it was a new environment for the child.

Over 150 people were out at one point looking for Burton on Sunday. People who did not even know the family searched for hours.

"Everybody wants the same thing, to find a healthy, happy 7-year-old," said Jennifer Gallagher. "We are a very close-knit community and we just had to band together to help out."

John's parents say he would sometimes hide from people he believes are looking for him.

The search for Burton on Sunday ended around 9 p.m. when conditions became too dark for volunteers.

The search resumed Monday morning, but search crews were called back shortly after heading out after officers found the body.

Copyright 2011 FOX19. All Rights Reserved.

Kristina Vlassenko, Age 10

ARVADA - Authorities are working to figure out what caused the death of a missing girl with autism found on Tuesday morning at a construction site. Arvada Police also want to know why a tracking device on the girl did not work properly.

Kristina Vlassenko, 10, was reported missing by family members Monday afternoon. She was last seen at 3:30 p.m. Her parents contacted police within one hour, said Arvada Police spokesperson Susan Medina.

Medina says a construction worker found the girl's body near 58th Avenue and Oak Street around 7 a.m. Tuesday. Police say she may have fallen into a water-filled hole excavated for the foundation of a new recreation center.

Investigators do not believe foul play was involved. The coroner's office has yet to determine her cause of death.

"It's never easy. You just want to bring that child home and in this case we didn't get to do that," Medina said.

Medina says the girl was equipped with a Life Trak system, which is a transmitter about the size of a wrist watch used to locate at-risk people when they go missing. They are similar to those used for people with Alzheimer's and autism. Arvada began using the program in 2008 at no cost to families that qualified.

According to officers, Kristina's Life Trak had never been activated before, since she did not have a history of wandering off. They were not able to get a signal from it when it was activated Monday.

"We never were able to get a solid ping from that," Medina said.

9NEWS contacted six law enforcement agencies that use Colorado Life Trak. All reported that the technology is reliable - with the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office reporting its success rate at 100 percent.

Michael Chylewski, vice president of Illinois-based Care Trak International, says this is the company's first reported fatality in its 26-year history.

"We were very sad to hear about the incident," he said. "We are sending company representatives out to aid the local police and sheriff's office in their investigation."

Jefferson County Sheriff's Public Information Director Jacki Kelley says the key is to report the missing person quickly.

"It should be up and running within ten minutes of the missing child," Kelley said.

Cmdr. Jeff Satur with Longmont Police sys his agency used Life Trak on May 13 to find a missing man with autism. The search took less than 30 minutes once the technology was activated.

"It helps us locate the people that we are looking for very quickly," Satur said. "We're very happy with its success."

Officers suspect Kristina's transmitter probably wasn't emitting a traceable signal because it was under water. They have contacted the manufacturer, Illinois-based Care Trak, to address the issue.

9NEWS left a message with the company after business hours Tuesday.

Kristina's former school bus driver, Liz Garcia, says the girl could have easily wandered into a dangerous situation.

"She is very nonverbal. I just can't imagine her being lost and not being able to cry out for help," Garcia said.

Garcia says Kristina loved to play in dirt and that could have been a reason she went into the construction site.

Investigators are asking anyone who may have seen the girl from the time she was reported missing to the time she was found to call police at 720-898-6900.

(KUSA-TV © 2011 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)

Friday, April 22, 2011

Elkhart, Indiana: Tristan Guffey, age 15, dies after lighting himself on fire.

Tristan Guffey at a younger age

By Clifton French (
7:41 p.m. EDT, April 22, 2011

An Elkhart teenager has died after suffering severe burns in a fire that happened Thursday evening in the 1200 block of Rice Street.

Tristan Guffey, 15, was air-lifted to a hospital in Kalamazoo, Michigan.

The victim had a severe form of autism. According to fire investigators, he was playing with matches and lighter fluid when he caught himself and his home on fire.

Despite the efforts of some strangers who managed to put out the fire that was burning the teen, on Friday he passed away.

"I wish I could have actually got here sooner to help him out. Maybe I could have saved his life," said Drake Newton. "I really don't know him, but I care for him."

Drake Newton and his nephew Derek were driving by, becoming two of the first to help Tristan when he ran out of his house, his entire body covered in flames.

Drake and Derek ripped his burning clothes off, stopping the fire that was burning him.

Now that Drake knows the boy has died, he wishes he could have done more.

"I wish I could have taken that pain myself instead of him going through that."

The tragedy has hit the entire Elkhart neighborhood. People who knew Tristan remember a happy boy who loved Legos and Transformers.

"He was really nice, because he would always say hi to me and we didn't even know each other," said Hannah Duncan.

Duncan and her friend were walking around the neighborhood when they saw the fire, catching the chaos on their phones.

"We saw him and he was on a stretcher…and he was completely black. We saw his mom screaming…"

Now, for those who witnessed the fire, they are still shocked that the young boy is gone.

"I can't even put it in words right now."

Tristan and his guardian, who he called his mother, were the only two who lived in the house. WSBT talked to a friend of the family who told us Tristan's guardian is back from Kalamazoo, but she does not want to speak to the media right now.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Cushing, Oklahoma: Blake Murrell, age 4, drowns in duck pond

Blake Murrell, age 4

Cushing Police: Body Found In Pond Is Missing Autistic Child
Body Pulled From Pond
POSTED: 1:48 pm CDT April 19, 2011

CUSHING, Okla. -- Cushing police confirmed to Eyewitness News 5 that the body found in a local duck pond was that of an autistic boy who was reported missing on Tuesday.

Investigators said the child, who was unable to speak, was reported missing sometime after noon.
Blake Murrell, 4, was last seen wearing blue pants with a green stripe down the side.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Cochise County, Airzona: 12 year old boy dies in fire, found under bed

12 year-old killed in overnight house fire
Posted: Apr 02, 2011 2:46 PM EDT
Updated: Apr 02, 2011 2:46 PM EDT
Brian Pryor

COCHISE COUNTY, Ariz. (KGUN9-TV) - Authorities are investigating a house fire that claimed the life of a 12 year-old boy overnight.

Carol Capas with the Sheriff's Office said that they responded to the trailer home in the 400 block of Purdy Lane after 12:30 a.m. Saturday morning.

Crews from the Naco, Bisbee, and San Jose Fire Department responded, as they arrived they observed two subjects outside the home. The father was seen trying to re-enter the burning home searching for his 12 year-old autistic son.

Once the fire was under control, firefighters searched the scene and found the 12 year-old partially under the bed deceased. The father told investigators that the son evacuated with the family but became confused and ran back into the burning home.

The American Red Cross is providing emergency aid to the family and provided them a place to stay. The Bisbee Fire Department also provided the family a care back with necessities and a pre-paid credit card.

Investigators have not determined the cause of the fire but are looking at the electrical system as a possible cause.

BISBEE, Ariz. (AP) — An autistic Arizona boy is said to have alerted his father about a fire in their mobile home early today, but then ran back inside after everyone had safely escaped. The father says his 12-year-old son appeared to be confused. Sheriff's officials say the home in Bizbee was fully engulfed by the time fire crews arrived.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Ida Township, Michigan: Jackson Kastner, age 4, drowns after wandering from home

Boy wanders from home, drowns in river
by Ray Kisonas , last modified March 28. 2011 11:36AM

IDA TOWNSHIP — An intense search and a dramatic helicopter rescue attempt ended in tragedy and sorrow Sunday afternoon when a missing 4-year-old boy with autism drowned in the River Raisin after he wandered from his home.

Counselors were on hand this morning for the students and staff at the Riverside Early Learning Center where Jackson Kastner was a student.

“It’s just tragic,” said Donald Spencer, superintendent of the Monroe County Intermediate School District. “We’re sick about it. The staff works so closely with the kids and their parents. They’re just devastated.”

An autopsy was scheduled for this morning but Monroe County Sheriff Tilman Crutchfield said there was nothing suspicious involving the boy’s death, which he expects to be ruled as an accidental drowning. That’s why there was no Amber Alert issued.

“There was no reason for it,” the sheriff said this morning. “It was never a case of suspected foul play.”

Jackson was outside playing in the back yard of the family home on S. Custer Rd. west of Raisinville Rd. when his mother reportedly went inside the house for about four or five minutes, said Sgt. Jeff Kemp. The river is about 300 yards behind the house, police said.

“When she came back out, he was gone,” Sgt. Kemp said.

Jackson apparently enjoyed a neighbor’s playscape and that’s the first place his mother looked. But when he wasn’t there, she called 911 and that launched a search involving 40 to 50 volunteers from area fire and police departments, including three tracking dogs.

Paul Metz, chief of the Ida Township Volunteer Fire Department, coordinated the firefighters’ search. Jackson’s autism was such that he did not respond to his name and he often liked confined spaces, he said.

Chief Metz said firefighters, neighbors and others looked along the river bank.

“The whole time we were totally optimistic,” Chief Metz said, who wanted to thank the community for the effort. “We thought he was going to be fine. There were real high emotions.”

Around the same time, the sheriff’s aviator unit was deployed and searching from above. Pilot Joe Schumaker and deputies Don Duncan and Brian Francisco were in the Raptor about 300 feet above the ground when the two deputies spotted something yellow in the water, which was relatively clear.

It was part of the boy’s clothing.

“You could tell it was him,” Deputy Duncan said.

The boy’s body was spotted at a small island in the middle of the river across from Carrington Farms about 1½ miles downstream from the family home. Mr. Schumaker carefully landed the helicopter on the island.

“It took some fantastic flying skills to get there,” the sheriff said.

Just as he touched down, the two deputies jumped out of the chopper and retrieved the boy. They began life-saving efforts, then decided the best course of action was to fly him across the river to a waiting ambulance.

While police closed traffic on S. Custer Rd. in both directions, Mr. Schumaker landed the chopper in the middle of the road and the boy was taken to the ambulance, which rushed him to the hospital.

Doctors could not save him.

“It’s always extra difficult when it’s a young one,” Deputy Duncan said. “It’s tough.”

The sheriff said that although the rescue ended in tragedy, at least the boy was found quickly. The river’s currents were strong and there is no telling how long it would have taken for a recovery.

“It’s important that we were able to retrieve him and have quick closure for the family,” the sheriff said. “If it hadn’t been for the helicopter and the crew we would not have found him. It was a tremendous effort, but it’s sad.”

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Lawton, Oklahoma: Savanah Lawton, age 7, drowns after wandering from home

Savannah Martin, age 7

Girl, 7, who drowned in Lawton had struggled to overcome autism

A girl who drowned in a Lawton pond struggled with autism but had learned to talk. She was also trying to learn to swim. Her 2-year-old brother was rescued from the pond and has been released from a hospital.

Published: February 23, 2011

LAWTON — Doctors once said Savannah Martin would never talk, but she defied the early diagnosis and started to speak. Then she learned to read. She even tried to learn to swim.

But on Sunday, Savannah, 7, who was autistic, slipped away from her home in Lawton and headed for a chilly pond nearby. Her brother, Tommy Martin, 2, who was wearing a bicycle helmet, may have followed her to the pond, said the children's' aunt, Ruth Sanchez, 35.

Savannah was found face down in the pond, which was about 50 yards from her home. Her brother was floating upright next to her, buoyed by the Styrofoam in his helmet.

“We can't believe this little angel is gone,” Sanchez said.

The children's mother, Beth Martin, 31, swam into the pond but was unable to pull her daughter out of the water. A neighbor, Hector Figueroa, 45, swam in and pulled both children to the bank.
It was too late to save Savannah, despite her mother's efforts to perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation.

Lawton firefighters also tried CPR, but Savannah was pronounced dead at Southwestern Medical Center.

Tommy Martin has been released from OU Medical Center in Oklahoma City, where he was treated for hypothermia, a hospital spokesman said Tuesday.

Lawton police Capt. Craig Akard said he doesn't know how long the children were in the water. He said officers are still interviewing witnesses and he couldn't comment on the investigation.
Beth Martin had recently separated from her husband, Thomas Martin, who is in the Oklahoma National Guard, and had been looking for a new place to live because of concerns about the pond, said Sanchez, who is Beth Martin's sister.

Beth Martin wanted to get a house with an alarm system because Savannah had recently figured out how to unlock doors, Sanchez said.

Savannah was diagnosed as autistic when she was 2, Sanchez said. Her mother worked to get her daughter to speak. But Savannah had not quite gotten the hang of swimming.

“She loved the water and playing in the bathtub and swimming. Water was a big draw to her, just the movement of it and the shimmering of the water in the sun outside,” she said.

A family friend, Juliet Burk, of Tahlequah, said Beth Martin worked doggedly with her daughter, even traveling to therapists in upstate New York.

She said Savannah started to say a few words and short sentences by the time she was 5.

In a Feb. 8 Facebook post, Beth Martin wrote: “Savannah looked at me straight in the eyes and said, ‘Give me a hug!' And ran into my arms. Can never thank those in her life that have helped get her to this point enough. Your work is never unnoticed or forgotten.”

Sanchez said her niece was on track to be mainstreamed into a first-grade class at Cache Elementary School. Once a week, Sanchez drove Savannah to the ACI Learning Center in Edmond, a therapy school for autistic children.

“Savannah had made tremendous strides,” Sanchez said. “She'd come home and give us hugs and kisses.”

Savannah loved Disney princesses and fairies and her favorite singer was Taylor Swift. Her brother Tommy was her “cohort,” who would go everywhere with her, Sanchez said.

About 4:30 p.m. Sunday, Beth Martin couldn't find the children in the house and ran to the pond, but didn't see them at first, Sanchez said. Then their older brother, Tristen, 11, went to the pond and heard them screaming.

Beth Martin climbed a barbed-wire fence to get to the pond, but was not strong enough to get her daughter to the bank, Sanchez said.

Martin went into shock at the hospital and has not been able to talk about her daughter's death, Sanchez said.

“Beth had told me she was planning to spend the rest of her life taking care of Savannah so she could give her the best life she could,” Sanchez said.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Fort Lupton, Colorado: 3-year-old drowns in golf course lake

FORT LUPTON - A toddler wandered out of his home Saturday morning to a nearby golf course, where he drowned in a pond.

Fort Lupton Police Chief Kenneth Poncelow says the three-year-old was being watched by his grandmother at a home in the 200 block of Ponderosa Place. He says she stepped away for a moment as the toddler was watching cartoons. When she returned, he was gone.

She called police at 9:18 a.m. and according to Poncelow, officers quickly created a search party. Around 9:30 a.m. they found the little boy in a nearby lake at the Coyote Creek Golf Course.

The boy was airlifted to Children's Hospital in Aurora where he later died.