Upper Makefield’s mother accused of shooting her two children was in a lengthy custody battle in Missouri, after accusing her first husband of intentionally taking her eldest son away from her for years after their divorce.
The revelation that Trinh Nguyen was previously embroiled in a custody fight comes as recent court documents filed in Bucks County by her most recent ex-husband expressed similar concerns about her fleeing with their child.
Nguyen is being held in Bucks County without bond, charged with shooting her sons, Nelson, 9, and Jeffery, “JT”, 13, in the head while they slept on Monday morning, a crime that has stunned the quiet, upscale community where they lived. on Timber Ridge Road.
UPDATE:Brothers who were shot in Upper Makefield home have died, CR District announces
The boys’ conditions remain unchanged since Monday. They remain on life support and are not expected to survive. Authorities said the family planned to donate his organs.
District Attorney Matt Weintraub did not disclose a motive in the shooting. The court filing confirmed that Nguyen was due to be evicted from her Upper Makefield home on May 3 and was in a custody dispute over her youngest child.
Earlier this year, Edward Tini filed a petition in Bucks County Court to stop his ex-wife from taking Nelson to her native Vietnam, alleging she was a “classic flight risk”. A hearing into the matter was underway when the shooting occurred.
The couple had previously agreed to overseas vacations every two years for five weeks over the summer starting this year, under the terms of their divorce settlement.
In court documents, Nguyen said her ex-husband did not give her permission to obtain a passport for their son.
Tini feared that Nguyen would refuse to return to the United States. He cited a 2015 incident before their wedding where he said Nguyen took their then 3-year-old son to Texas and threatened not to return, according to documents filed in Bucks County. To research.
The incident resulted in a court order granting the couple joint custody of the boy.
“Father thinks mother…presents himself as a classic kidnapping parent,” according to a report by a custody conference officer.
The duty officer noted in his report that Nguyen was “insulted” by Tini’s allegations and denied any intention to move to Vietnam.
Lawyers who represented Nguyen and Tini in the divorce declined to comment earlier this week. Nguyen was representing herself in the custody cases, and the attorney representing Tini declined to comment.
After:The feared ex-mother accused of shooting Upper Makefield was a ‘classic parent kidnapper’; fought his trip out of the United States
The third son and Trinh Nguyen’s fight for contact
Tini’s fears about his ex-wife taking their child mirror those Nguyen expressed during a nearly three-year custody battle in Missouri with her first husband, Scott Dinh, over their eldest child. , who is also Jeffrey’s biological brother.
This news agency identifies the eldest son by his initials MND because he is 17 years old. As of 2018, he was living in Portland, Oregon with his father, according to court documents.
Attempts to reach Dinh failed. Phone numbers associated with his name have been disconnected and emails have been returned as undeliverable.
Missouri court records show that as part of their final divorce settlement in 2009, a New Jersey judge awarded Dinh primary physical custody of MND. Nguyen was granted primary physical custody of Jeffery, who was born in 2008.
The New Jersey order granted both Nguyen and her ex-husband ‘liberal and reasonable’ visitation rights to the sons, but in 2015 and 2016 Nguyen claimed Dinh tried to take her away from their child. eldest, had refused her visits and had cut off communications with her. , according to Missouri court records.
Nguyen said, in court documents, that she had no contact with her son for two years because his father moved without telling her to Michigan, Saigon, Vietnam and Oregon before moving on. settle in Missouri in 2014.
On the same day Dinh filed the New Jersey judgment with the county court system, Nguyen filed a motion to vary, records show. In December 2015, a Missouri judge varied the original order granting joint legal custody of MND to both parents and Dinh was awarded sole physical custody of the child, records show.
The following year, MND visited her mother at the Upper Makefield home where she was living with Jeffery, Nelson and her new husband during her summer vacation. During the visit, his son told Nguyen that his father planned to move again, although he knew where, according to court documents.
In late August, after returning to Missouri, Nguyen said his son told him in a phone call that he and his father had moved to Oregon, although he did not say where in the State, according to court documents. She called the Cape Girardeau School District and confirmed that her son had been removed.
Court documents allege Dinh repeatedly failed to provide the court and his ex-wife with at least 60 days written notice of the proposed move, as required by the 2015 Amended Custody Order. also failed to provide a forwarding address, phone number or dates he moved or why or a proposed revised visitation or custody schedule, another violation. Nguyen also claimed that her ex cut off communication with her son after telling him about the move.
In later court testimony, Dinh would claim that Nguyen could easily find out where their son lived because she provided him with a cellphone and a tablet computer.
A judge found his argument moot. however, because Dinh still had a legal responsibility to provide a current address “at all times”. But he also found Nguyen’s testimony that she did not know where her son lived or how to locate him “not credible”.
Trinh Nguyen gets custody of his eldest son, his father cut
In September 2016, Nguyen filed a motion in Missouri to restrain the move, alleging the move was not in good faith and was done “for the purpose of denying him visitation,” according to court documents.
Dinh did not attend a December 2016 hearing on the request and Nguyen claimed she did not have an address to have a notice sent to him, so a notice was published in a newspaper.
After hearing Nguyen’s testimony, Cape Girardeau Common Pleas Judge Benjamin Lewis varied the 2015 custody order preventing relocation and granted Nguyen sole legal and physical custody of MND. The judge also denied Dinh visitation with his son “because the evidence established that he would surely keep (MND) from the mother if he had the chance,” the order said.
The 2016 order said Nguyen would be able to provide a better family environment for his eldest son because his home is “more stable, which will allow him to better adapt to home, school and community. “.
Shortly after entering the new order, Nguyen located MND in Oregon and flew it back to Pennsylvania with her for Christmas vacation, the order said.
But the reunion didn’t go well, according to Diane C. Howard, a family law attorney in Cape Girardeau Missouri, who represented Nguyen in the custody case. After the holidays, Nguyen agreed to let her son return to his father in Oregon.
Sometime in January 2017, weeks after the judgment went into effect granting Nguyen sole physical and legal custody, Dinh found out, hired a lawyer and filed a motion to have it set aside. Four months later, the couple agreed to overturn the 2016 order and revert to the previous one with shared custody and physical custody of Dinh.
Dad cuts off visits to mom, she drags him to court again
After the order was overturned, however, Dinh refused to let their son visit Nguyen, despite being ordered in the 2015 judgment, according to court documents.
In 2018, the couple returned to a Missouri courtroom after Nguyen filed another motion to prevent her ex-husband from moving in with their son in the future.
This time, while Judge Lewis found that Dinh repeatedly violated the original custody order by cutting off communication with their son and refusing visitation – actions which the judge said justified granting Nguyen the physical and legal custody she was asking for – it was not in “her son’s best interests”. .”
“The father has proven that he prefers to deny the mother a meaningful relationship with (MND),” Lewis said. “The mother claims that the court should now deny the father a meaningful relationship with (MND) in retaliation for the father’s past behavior and to prevent the father from denying custody of the mother in the future.”
Lewis noted that MND was almost 14 and had adjusted to life with his father in Portland and Dinh assured the court that he had no plans to move again.
“(He) would likely experience significant disruption if he were ordered to leave these friends and family behind,” Lewis added. “Although (MND) needs to restore his relationship with his mother and his family, this change should not be abrupt and total, if the father cooperates with these changes.”
In his order, Lewis granted the couple joint legal and physical custody of their son, but let the boy continue to live with his father. Nguyen was awarded custody every Christmas and spring break and throughout the summer holidays. The judge also upheld the requirement for a minimum 60-day relocation notice.
The latest amended order remains in effect, according to Howard, Nguyen’s former lawyer, but she had no further information and has not spoken to Nguyen since receiving the 2018 judgment.
Howard found it shocking that his former client is now accused of shooting his two young children. He is completely out of character with the mother she once knew.
“She was always very calm, sweet and pleasant to be around. Even when dealing with the very stressful situation with her son,” Howard said. “She is very short, so her wise personality seemed to match her stature. She worked hard for two years to locate (MND) and restore her relationship with (him), which makes this situation so puzzling.”
After:Family legal battle over $11,000 in unpaid rent preceded Upper Makefield shooting, documents show
After:‘Just unthinkable’: Classmates, families remember Upper Makefield brothers at vigil
After:Slain Newtown Township dentist remembers being ‘always full of joy, stories and laughter’