I was talking to a friend last night on the phone and telling her how haunting it was to me that a mother, Leigh Ann, had to hear what had happened to her children, Elyse and Ian Terry. A news story had said she had broken down when she was told that her children had been shot - and I felt the collapse. I wondered how she was doing, wondering if maybe now she could be found, loved, supported. I ran a google search and found that last month Leigh Ann stepped out to share what she's going through. Her intent was to give others strength to get through tragedy, but her pain is still so acute it's hard to draw hope from her words. Maybe the greater lesson in this is to understand the danger when ominous words are mumbled from a bitter human being. Almost always domestic killers say what they are going to do. Deputy Paul Terry told his wife if he can't have the kids, no one can. He meant that. Maybe, remembering Elyse and Ian, will give others a better chance to protect their children.
Leigh Ann did all she could. Please keep her in your prayers, every day - just add her.
[FL] Orange County Deputy Terry and his children found dead - Orange Circuit Judge Bob Wattles said he awarded temporary custody of the children last month to Paul Terry, 45, after he filed a domestic-violence complaint against his wife.
[FL] Elyse and Ian Terry killed by their Deputy father
Orange County Deputy Paul Robert Terry won custody of his kids because Orange Circuit Judge Bob Wattles believed Terry's photo of a scratch on his neck as evidence he was an abused man over the lie detector results of his wife Leigh Ann to show she did not do that, and the judge overlooked Leigh Ann's insistence that she and her children were in danger. Deputy Terry fatally shot his two children Elyse and Ian, then himself. From a news article: "...When she was told of the deaths, the children's mother, Leigh Ann Terry, broke down in a neighbor's driveway"...
August 5 1995 - October 10, 2005.
December 30, 1996 - October 10, 2005
Woman Wants Others To Learn From Story
November 4, 2008
UPDATED: November 6, 2008
ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. -- A woman whose estranged husband shot and killed their two children before killing himself talked to Local 6 News in an effort to help others who are dealing with personal tragedies.
Leigh Ann Dyal discussed the story with Local 6 News reporter Donald Forbes in her first television interview since the incident.
Dyal's estranged husband, Paul Terry, who was a detective and 14-year veteran of the Orange County Sheriff's Office, shot and killed their two children with his department-issued gun while the children were sleeping in their mother's bed in their Windermere home in 2005.
Terry shot Elyse Erin Terry, 10, and Ian Tyler Terry, 8, before shooting himself 12 hours later.
"Never in my wildest dreams would I have ever thought he would have taken a gun and shot them in the head," Dyal said. "I made deals with the devil, just to have (my children) come back for just one day -- just one day -- please let me have my children for one more day. And they're not here, and they'll never be here, and I've had to accept that -- and it's the hardest thing. People say the hardest thing you do is bury your children. They are 100 percent correct."
Dyal said she still has questions about the shootings.
"Which one did he shoot first? Did my other child wake up? Who did he choose first? Why did he do it? What was the reasoning behind it? They are questions that I ask myself constantly, and there are no answers," Dyal said.
Dyal said she suffered through years of mental abuse and told Terry on Sept. 19, 2005, that she was filing for a divorce.
"Those were his last words to me on that night, 'Well, if I can't have (the children), nobody can have them.," Dyal said.
Four days later, Terry had a 2-inch gash on his neck and claimed that his wife had attacked him. He got a restraining order against her, which placed the children in his temporary custody. The shootings occurred about two weeks later.
"I had to bury my children because somebody took it upon themselves to do whatever they could to ruin my life just because they could," Dyal said.
Dyal said she hopes others can learn from her story.
"You can exist," Dyal said.
"Is that what it is? Existing?" Forbes asked.
"Some days I just feel like I exist. I just bang into walls some days. My mind is not where it should be. I just find I always have to have a goal to look forward to," Dyal said.
Three months after the shootings, Dyal moved back into the home where her children were killed.
"I can look around and have a good memory. It's not horrible memories -- that's what people don't understand. People think I would have these horrible memories," Dyal said. "I sit in their bedrooms and look around and remember tucking them at night."
Dyal said her home is filled with photos of her children and their toys.
"This is what I have. I know my children are in heaven but this is all I have -- this box, and I don't even know what to do with their urns. I'm at such a loss. Everybody says you have to move on, but it's very difficult," Dyal said.
Dyal said she cries almost every day over the loss of family but keeps pressing on.
"I want to give hope to people and to honor my children that I can survive. You can survive, people. (You) can survive a catastrophic loss," Dyal said. "Talk to yourself every day. You force yourself to get out of bed -- that is a big step because there are many days I want to stay in bed."
Dyal said she no longer blames herself.
"Three years later I know that I am going to see my children again in heaven, and my former husband will never see them again because he is rotting in hell," Dyal said.
Dyal said she sometimes "hears" her children helping her move on.
"I just hear them telling me, 'Mommy, you're OK. We're OK, we're OK. You're going to be OK," Dyal said.
Dyal, who has remarried, said hope is the biggest lesson others who are struggling can learn.
POSTED: 7:09 pm EDT October 11, 2005
ORLANDO, Fla. -- The Orange County Sheriff's Office is reeling from the suicide of a deputy and the murders of his two children. All three died from gunshot wounds to the head, the Medical Examiner said.
Records from Deputy Paul Terry's personnel file and from divorce proceedings show a man of contradictions.
He was a 14-year sheriff's office veteran with much training in guns and conflict, yet he said he feared his wife, WESH 2 News reported.
He earned commendations, yet his supervisors took him to task for being self-serving and not being a team player.
But none of those records give any indication Terry would kill his children and then himself.
Records show the violence inside Terry's Windermere home began long before Monday's double-murder suicide. The WESH 2 I-Team obtained call records dating back to 2001 showing deputies responded 10 different times to Paul and Leigh Ann Terry's home.
Reports show four of those calls were to investigate domestic abuse. No criminal charges were ever filed against anyone.
Judge Bob Wattles became involved when Paul Terry asked for and received a temporary injunction to protect himself from his wife. In court records, Terry stated he feared for his own and his children's safety. As proof, he filed grainy black-and-white photos which he claimed show where his wife cut his neck.
Terry's wife, Leigh Ann, vehemently denied those charges, and Wattles found little evidence to support.
"I began to be convinced that Mrs. Terry wasn't as bad as the paperwork was saying she was," Wattles said.
Wattles had ordered Paul Terry to bring his two children, Ian and Elyse, to his courtroom Monday afternoon for a child custody hearing in Paul and Leigh Ann's Terry's marital separation fight.
When they didn't show, the court held a hearing about the custody of the two children without them.
"If I had any concern or thought at all that it was going to be anything close to this, even violence against Mrs. Terry out of the house, we would have taken whatever measures necessary to protect the children and Mrs. Terry," Wattles said.
Another contradiction is the fact that Terry's personnel file is stuffed full of commendations and letters from citizens thanking him for various instances of service. But that same file also has supervisors taking Terry to task for not being a team player, being slow to clear cases as a detective and being too concerned with earning commendations and letters of praise than solving cases.
their mother, Leigh Ann.