It started with a custody dispute and International Family Abduction to Nicaragua in 2007. Lenore Matusiewictz and her son David Matusiewictz a former optometrist kidnapped David’s daughters to
Central America. They later plead guilty to federal fraud and kidnapping charges. Lenore received a 1 1/2 year prison sentence. David Matusiewictz was sentenced to 4 years in prison and 5 years probation.
Then on February 2013, Thomas Matusiewicz, a former New Jersey Police Officer, David’s father opened fire inside a New Castle County Delaware courthouse, where he fatally shot the custodial mother Christine Belford and her friend.
In July 21015, in a landmark Cyberstalking Case in Federal Court, an investigation into the shooting led authorities to discover what drove Thomas Matusiewicz to act out in violence. It was the custody battle with his son David’s ex-wife. A jury concluded that his son David, daughter Amy Gonzalez and wife Lenore — were all culpable in the deaths of David’s ex-wife Christine Belford and her friend Laura Mulford.
Here is what Martha Neil reports in a ABA Journal article:
Prosecutors say the wife, son, and daughter of Thomas Matusiewicz played a role in his deadly February 11, 2013 attack on Christine Belford and Laura Mulford, by participating in harassing conduct that resulted in Belford’s death.” David Matusiewicz and his mother and sister allegedly stalked Belford, monitoring her whereabouts and accusing her of child abuse through unrelenting Internet posts, emails, and phone calls. The subsequent trial focused heavily on the cyberstalking component of this harassment, making it among the first of its kind to do so.
On February 12, 2016, Lenore Matusiewicz, 69 was sentenced to life in prison on federal cyberstalking charges. David Matusiewicz and Amy Gonzalez or scheduled to be sentenced this week.
Where relatives culpable in shooter’s deadly courthouse attack? Jury to decide in cyberstalking trial (ABA Journal, 07-09-2015)
Matusiewicz’s Relatives Convicted of Cyberstalking in Landmark Case (Springlaw.com, 07-17-2015)
Court gunman’s widow sentenced to life in prison (Yahoo News, 02-12-2016)
One of our website readers brought this case to our attention.
- We are not publishing photos of the Parental Kidnappers and those convicted in the Cyberstalking Case.
- The Federal Cyberstalking Landmark Charges against these family members have the potential to deter supporters from posting inflammatory information in Child Custody and Family Abduction Cases online and in social media. As we’ve seen in Utah, Minnesota and Michigan, these supporters may not want to be held culpable for any subsequent crime committed. Here’s a link to some information on Cyberstalking laws: www.haltabuse.org
- Lenore Matusiewicz is the first person in the United States to be convicted and sentenced for cyberstalking resulting in death. Over the years, some fathers in these cases have reported receiving death threats as well as other forms of harassment.
- Digital warfare expert Edward McAndrew writes: “The cyber-threat landscape is dotted with a broad assortment of crimes, including identity and intellectual property theft, tax fraud, child exploitation, obstruction of justice, economic espionage, extortion, bullying, stalking, money laundering, terrorism, and even domestic violence. Cyber-criminals work at all levels from stealing the personal information of individuals to bringing down entire systems.” In these Family Abduction Cases, there are almost always other crimes that are not prosecuted with the parental kidnapping charge.