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Monday, November 28, 2005

[FL] Elyse and Ian Terry killed by their Deputy father

October 2005
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."


Elyse Erin Terry - 10 forever
August 5 1995 - October 10, 2005.

Ian Tyler Terry - 8 forever
December 30, 1996 - October 10, 2005

Pray always for their mother, Leigh Ann.

[FL] Orange County Deputy Terry and his children found dead


Oct 11, 2005
...When she was told of the deaths, the children's mother, Leigh Ann Terry, broke down in a neighbor's driveway. "She was hysterical," said neighbor Robert Boos, a retiree who lives two doors away in the gated Windermere Club subdivision... According to Orange Circuit Court records, Leigh Ann Terry filed for divorce Wednesday...

Oct 11, 2005
...The sheriff's office had been called to the home for domestic trouble five times last month. Now Terry's colleagues were reviewing those cases... Judge: "He alleged that she hit him, and he was afraid for himself and his children"... Neighbor: "We don't talk to them because he was so screwy... This person was really not together. He frightened me."... Leigh Ann Terry had approached neighbors for shelter because she was afraid of her husband and his access to firearms...

Oct 12 2005
...The flag was at half-staff at Windermere Elementary School Tuesday because Elyse Terry, 10, and Ian Terry, 8, are both gone... "I understand that there may have been marital problems," said Sgt. Barbara Miller, of the Orange County Sheriff's Office...

Oct 12, 2005
...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...

Oct 12, 2005
Like Brame, Terry used photo to show abuse
...She filed for the divorce last Wednesday, less than a week before the bodies of Paul Terry and his children were discovered... In her response to the domestic-violence complaint, Leigh Ann Terry denied striking her husband and indicated that she had passed a polygraph test regarding what she called her husband's "false accusations."...

Oct 12, 2005
PD defends not taking action on Dep. Terry
...Then, just last month, there were five more calls to the Terry home. Only one involved physical abuse and it was Terry alleging his wife hit and scratched him. According to sheriff's office policy, an officer only loses his service weapon if he's arrested or if an injunction is issued against him, neither of which happened here...

Oct 13, 2005
Family's Minister Says No One Foresaw (?) Terry Tragedy
..."No one saw this coming. No one. That's the last thing I expected. I thought I was going to see a softer side of Paul because he was always a little bit distant and very self-controlled," Brits said.... Brits said Terry was meeting with him, but the injunction filed by Paul Terry against his wife late last month created more problems. "I felt all along that this injunction was brought against his wife, there wasn't an abusive situation," Brits said...

Oct 25, 2005
Susan Milano-Murphy speaks out on Terry case
"...It is the Orange County Sheriff department who should be charged for the crime of not responding and doing their job and as the law requires... Police Departments across the country need to get their act together by being more accountable to the other members of police families..."

Nov 1, 2005
Ian & Elyse Terry - memorialized
A west Orange soccer field will be named today in memory of two young players killed this month by their father. The Roper YMCA is naming the field to honor Ian and Elyse Terry, who played at the sports facility in Winter Garden, a YMCA worker said Friday...

Nov 13, 2005
"Cop suicides can exceed line-of-duty deaths"
...the true number remains unknown because no agency tracks police suicides nationwide... many agencies list them as accidental deaths or don't release any information... "Murder-suicides are on the increase in police families," University of Buffalo professor John Violanti, an authority on police suicides...

Nov 13, 2005
Article I had missed on Ian Terry
This article says some, not much, but some about 8 year old Ian - but more it reminds that everyone is effected... I'm sure it changed the world-view of this little league teams' members forever... How sad...

[See "comments" section for more on Judge Wattles - He may have an ax to grind about divorce and child support, and may be too biased to be in a position to make life and death decisions for others. Because of my own biases - you decide. Since ignoring Leigh Ann/ siding with Deputy Terry, and basically flipping a coin to determine Elyse and Ian's best interest, he's been honored by defense attorneys.]


  1. AnonymousJune 19, 2008

    Deputy shot kids, then self
    The deaths came amid a nasty divorce, rising debt and years of abuse, Orange court records show
    Anthony Colarossi and Henry Pierson Curtis
    Sentinel Staff Writers
    Posted October 12, 2005

    The divorce of Paul and Leigh Ann Terry promised to be bitter. Their case was already playing out in court with tales of rage, deep financial problems and lawyers arguing over visitation.

    "She is out of control," Paul Terry, a veteran Orange County deputy, noted in court papers, describing a Sept. 19 fight with his wife. "She is going to hurt the kids, me or herself one day."

    But it was Paul Terry who ended up hurting the children, shooting each in the head with his agency-issued pistol before turning the weapon on himself at their Windermere-area home. The Sheriff's Office said it was a double murder and suicide that happened sometime before Paul Terry, his 10-year-old daughter, Elyse, and his 8-year-old son, Ian, were to appear in court Monday.

    A day after the bodies were discovered in the same room of the family's upscale -- and heavily mortgaged -- home, colleagues of Paul Terry's at the Orange Sheriff's Office, friends of the family and classmates of the children struggled for answers to the double-murder suicide.

    "I wonder which child he shot first," asked Cherry Winters, the mother of one of Leigh Ann's longtime friends. "You can only hope he drugged them, and they didn't know what was happening."

    Based on Paul Terry's word and his typewritten complaint, two Orange Circuit judges granted Terry temporary custody of his children and ordered their mother to stay away from the home.

    Orange Circuit Judge Robert Evans, who signed the initial order giving Paul Terry, 45, temporary custody of the kids in September, said he and other judges must often make decisions based only on what someone alleges on paper.

    "It didn't really make a difference if this guy was a ditch digger or president of the United States," said Evans, adding that Paul Terry's law-enforcement position "wasn't relevant to the examination."

    But a photograph Paul Terry submitted, showing a scratch on his neck did have a bearing on the decision, Evans said. He gave Paul Terry temporary custody.

    The case then went to Circuit Judge Bob Wattles, who continued to grant Paul Terry custody of the kids, but gave Leigh Ann Terry, 41, visitation with the kids during the weekend.

    Court records show that the couple had reached a bitter state, were about to go through a divorce and had been experiencing financial hardships. One document, listing income of more than $120,000, also showed high expenses, with a mortgage, insurance and equity-loan payments exceeding $5,000 a month -- and other household expenses totaling thousands of dollars more.

    In her response to the domestic-violence complaint, Leigh Ann Terry denied striking her husband and indicated that she had passed a polygraph test regarding what she called her husband's "false accusations."

    She asked why her husband had waited four days before seeking the temporary injunction if he was concerned about "the safety of himself and his children due to uncontrolled physical abuse." And Leigh Ann Terry mentioned that on Sept. 21 -- two days before Paul Terry had filed his petition seeking protection from domestic violence -- she had told him she wanted a divorce.

    Paul Terry told her, "That's fine, as long as you give me $500,000," according to Leigh Ann Terry's response.

    She filed for the divorce last Wednesday, less than a week before the bodies of Paul Terry and his children were discovered.

    Tragic day at Sheriff's Office

    The shootings and suicide of a colleague contributed to a saddened, sometimes angry mood at the Orange County Sheriff's Office after Monday's unrelated shooting of Deputy Adam Pierce.

    Sheriff Kevin Beary spoke briefly Tuesday morning of the Terry family deaths. He talked about Monday as being one of the most tragic days in the agency's history.

    "I wish I had all the answers on something like that," Beary said of the double murder and suicide.

    Beary knew Paul Terry well. In 2001, they traveled together in Russia for three weeks as part of earning their master's degrees in criminal justice from the University of Central Florida.

    "They were phenomenal," Professor William Koleszar said of the class of 25 graduate students. "Not just Sheriff Beary; we had the best and the brightest of Central Florida law enforcement."

    "The best word to describe him [Paul Terry] was 'intense,' " Koleszar said. "He gave 110 percent to whatever he was doing."

    But some neighbors and friends of Leigh Ann Terry describe another type of intensity for Paul Terry. In interviews, they called him a "control freak" whose anger and verbal abuse frightened his children.

    In 2001, deputies responded for the first time to a 911 call for a verbal dispute at the Terrys' home. The report was not available Tuesday. Nine more 911 calls followed, ending with the discovery of the bodies Monday.

    Paul and Leigh Ann Terry accused the other of domestic violence dating back years in their 12-year marriage, sheriff's records show. But only Paul Terry's complaint filed on Sept. 23, appeared in Orange Circuit Court records.

    Neighborhood is quiet

    The neighborhood remained quiet Tuesday afternoon. A small, makeshift memorial grew outside the Terrys' home, with bunches of flowers balanced against the foot of the mailbox.

    One bunch had a card taped to it; with a child's handwriting that read, "I hope you feel better," in pencil.

    The Terry children were students at Windermere Elementary School, Elyse in fourth grade and Ian in third, Area Superintendent Jenny Reeves said. Both had attended the school since kindergarten.

    They were well-known, both from school and from community activities, such as sports teams, so even children who were not in class with them were upset, Reeves said.

    Many at the school knew about the deaths when they arrived Wednesday morning, either from news reports or just word of mouth.

    "This is small-town community out here," Reeves added, and the atmosphere at the school was "very sad, very, very sad."

    But for Leigh Ann Terry, the sadness won't end, a friend said.

    Winters said Leigh Ann Terry "will never get over" having to hand back her children to their father this past weekend.

    "That's one of the things she said today," Winters said. "'Nobody can ever call me Mommy again.' "

    Daphne Sashin and Leslie Postal of the Sentinel staff contributed to this report. Anthony Colarossi can be reached at acolarossi@orlandosentinel.com or 407-420-6218. Henry Pierson Curtis can be reached at 407-420-5257 or hcurtis@orlandosentinel.com.


  2. AnonymousJune 19, 2008

    Department Defends Not Taking Action Against Deputy Who Killed Kids
    October 12, 2005

    ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. -- More details are emerging about the tragic double murder-suicide involving an Orange County deputy and his two children. Paul Terry shot his 10-year-old daughter and his 8-year-old son with the gun issued to him by the sheriff's department.

    The sheriff's office said, while it was reported up the chain of command that Terry was having marital problems, and even that officers had been called to his home seven times for domestic situations, it never rose to the level needed for the department to take action.

    The Orange County Sheriff's Office said it treats domestic violence cases involving officers just like it would for anyone else. The case is investigated and, if physical violence were involved, someone would be charged. There's an additional measure to notify the officer's supervisor or watch commander. In Terry's case, it went even higher than that.

    The department first documented marital troubles at the home near Windermere back in 2001, when Paul Terry's wife Leigh Ann called 911 during a verbal argument. While being interviewed, she told an officer that Terry had hit her two years earlier, causing a black eye, but she did not want to prosecute.

    Terry told officers his wife repeatedly abused him. Even their two children, 10-year-old Elyse and 8-year-old Ian, told officers they'd seen their mom hit their dad many times over the years. A professional standards investigation said there wasn't enough evidence and the statute of limitations for physical abuse had run out.

    Then, just last month, there were five more calls to the Terry home. Only one involved physical abuse and it was Terry alleging his wife hit and scratched him. According to sheriff's office policy, an officer only loses his service weapon if he's arrested or if an injunction is issued against him, neither of which happened here.

    The department did suggest counseling for Terry, even explaining the employee assistance program, but never demanded it. Officers said there was no way they could have predicted he would use his gun to shoot his two children in the head and then turn the gun on himself.


  3. AnonymousJune 19, 2008

    Elyse and Ian Terry
    TERRY, ELYSE and IAN, Elyse Terry, 10, and Ian Terry, 8, beloved children of Leigh Ann Terry of Windermere. Both children, students at Windermere Elementary School, were championship gymnasts, taking numerous state and regional awards. Elyse was active in horseback riding. Ian excelled at baseball as part of the Windermere Little League. Both children played on the same co-ed soccer team through the Roper YMCA in Winter Garden. Music was special to them, as both were enthusiastic about their piano studies and children's choir at the Presbyterian Church of the Lakes. They are survived by their mother, Leigh Ann; grandparents, Carl and Carole Engle of Windermere and Margaret Herman of Shamokin, PA; and aunts, uncles, cousins, extended family, and friends. They will be dearly missed, especially by their mother, Leigh Ann. Memorial Service will be held Saturday, October 15th at 10AM at the Presbyterian Church of the Lakes, 4700 Lincoln Ave. (off of Conroy-Windermere Road), Orlando.
    Published in the Orlando Sentinel on 10/13/2005.

  4. AnonymousJune 19, 2008

    The Legacy guestbook for Elyse and Ian is no longer available online but I have it.

  5. Florida Judge Withholds Child Support Payments
    He couldn’t take it
    by Tom Kovach
    January 4, 2004

    I’ve tried to avoid whining in this column, but today it’s my turn.

    In a recent news item, it was revealed that a judge in Florida had stopped making his court-ordered child-support payments for a year. He didn’t go back to the original court and ask to stop paying. He simply stopped. Of course, he claimed to have a good reason for withholding the payments. You see, his ex-wife had been arrested a second time for DUI. He sees nothing wrong with his actions. And, in a way, neither do I.

    But, what if that was me, or any other (read closely) “Beat-Dead” father?

    Ironically, Circuit Judge Bob Wattles justified his withholding the payments because, “By my calculations, I'm ahead. I paid more than I should have when I stopped.” He based that statement on the fact — undisputed, by the way — that he had been voluntarily paying about $300 more per month than the court had required. But, I will pose the questions that any judge in a Family Court would ask a regular father under the same circumstances. Don’t you think your child will need to eat sometime before he turns 18?! What did he expect his son to do, store up blubber like a whale?

    The irony continues, though. The judge’s required child support was only $358 per month. On a judge’s salary?! My support payment, for only one child, is $123.50 per week! And, my “real” job only pays $8.50 per hour, and I usually don’t get 40 hours in a week. (Thus, I have more time for my real love, writing, even though it doesn’t pay.) From years of experience in the Fathers’ Rights movement, I know that there are plenty more fathers voluntarily over-paying their fair share than there are fathers (especially judges) getting away with under-paying. Although I admire Judge Wattles for paying more than the minimum, I simultaneously deplore the fact that another judge let him get by with paying so little in the first place.

    Perhaps the judge really meant well. (And, deep down, my gut tells me that he did.) Perhaps he recognized that he was enabling his ex-wife’s drinking habit by giving her all that money. Perhaps it was his way of protesting and punishing her behavior, and also protecting their son. Fine. Bravo. Good for you, judge. You have the right idea. But, what about all the other fathers across this country (and others) that have been forced to enable whatever bad habits their ex-wives might acquire? And, what about all the other fathers that have technically violated a court order for trying to do the right thing?

    For example, when our divorce became final, my ex-wife had gone through three attorneys. She finally went pro se. Then, she started messing around with my access to our daughter. I applied for custody, and I sued her for alienation of affections. Then, she got one of her attorneys back. Then, he started billing her. Up until that point, we had a great system of child support. I paid her regularly with Postal Money Orders. I kept records as best I could. But, when the lawyer started billing my ex-wife, she suddenly went to the Family Court and demanded that I be put on “The System”. And, by her attorney’s skillful calculations, I became a “deadbeat” from day one. (And, of course, my custody and civil suits were dismissed.) Of course, common sense tells anyone — except Family Court judges — that she is spending my child support money on her attorney. And, some of his legal fees were tacked onto my “support” obligation. And, when my ex-wife refused to let our daughter see me one Fathers’ Day, I stopped paying. Then, the attorney petitioned the court to have me jailed for contempt. But, does anyone care?

    During that same time, my ex-wife has systematically denied me access to our daughter, alienated her against me, married a guy who lived with his parents until he was 38 years old, and moved our daughter into a run-down rural house. (My ex’s own word for it was “dumpy”.) She has also — by her own admission, in court papers — racked up more than $24,000 in multiple credit-card debts. We only had one credit card when we were married, and I cut it up when it got out of hand at only $2,000. Can the court see which one is the responsible parent? (Well, in the eyes of a Family Court judge, the responsible parent is the one that’s paying a lawyer!)

    It galls me that I’m paying “lawyer support”, and helping prepare for an attorney’s children to go to college at the expense of my own. It galls me that the State of New York refuses to recognize Parental Alienation Syndrome as a valid cause of action. It galls me that the NY Family Court refuses to enforce Section 241 of the Domestic Relations Law. (That section says that, if the custodial parent denies access to the child, then the non-custodial parent may stop paying support — after a successful court petition, of course.) It galls me that “any reasonable person” can see that the real reason that a total of six Family Court judges have kept my daughter away from me is because I helped to write legislation that reduces their terms from ten years to four. It galls me that my situation — which seems painful to those with “normal” lives — is nothing compared to millions of other fathers that have it far worse, and that “The System” will not lift a finger to help them. But, it galls me much more to think that Judge Wattles will probably get away with stopping his support payments (although he was apparently doing the right thing), while other judges would lock up any regular father for using that same method to try to protect their children.

    I have to wonder how many fathers Judge Wattles may have locked up previously for not paying support. Apparently, Judge Wattles thinks that the court system is unfair. Perhaps the judge thinks it’s all just too confusing. Or, perhaps the judge can’t afford a lawyer — after that whopping support deduction. Or, perhaps the judge doesn’t think that one should have to ask a court’s permission to do the right thing and protect one’s child. Or, perhaps the judge doesn’t think he can afford to take that much time off from work. (Do any of these concerns sound familiar, gentlemen?) No matter what the reason, a sitting judge bypassed the judicial system. Apparently, he just couldn’t take it.

    Justice isn’t blind; it’s willfully stupid.


  6. American City Business Journals
    Criminal defense lawyers to honor Judge Wattles
    Orlando Business Journal
    May 24, 2006

    Ninth Judicial Circuit Judge Bob Wattles has been named recipient of the 2006 Gary L. Formet Sr. Award of Judicial Excellence from the Central Florida Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.

    Wattles will receive the award at noon on May 24 at the Sorosis Women's Club.

    The award is named after one of the circuit's most respected judges who died of cancer in December 1996. The award is given annually to a judge who exemplifies fairness, compassion, integrity and respect in the courtroom.

    Wattles is the third recipient of the award. Previous winners include Circuit Judge Stan Strickland and Senior Judge Janis Halker Simpson.

    "The law matters to him and results matter to him," says Strickland, the 2005 award recipient.

    Elected in fall 1994, Wattles took the circuit bench in January 1995. Since then, he has worked in the criminal, domestic and juvenile divisions. He was named Hispanic Bar Association Judge of the Year twice and has served on various boards including Goodwill Industries Inc. He began the African American, Hispanic and Senior Town Hall programs, which allow judges to engage in roundtable discussions about the court system in the community.

    "It's a great honor," Wattles says. "To me, it's recognition that we have a level playing field in the courtroom."

    At the May 24 luncheon, Wattles intends to bring special guest Timothy Eugene Allen, who was acquitted of the 1986 murders of his grandfather and a cousin by a jury in Wattles' courtroom in April 2004. Days before the trial, the judge told the prosecutor and defense attorney that he had doubts about the strength of the case against Allen. The trial proceeded, and Allen was freed after the jury's decision.


  7. Records: Violence Began Long Before Murder-Suicide
    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.

    To comment on this story, send an e-mail to Stephen Stock.


    Image: http://images.ibsys.com/2005/1011/5086928_240X180.jpg

  8. Thank you very much for keeping their memory alive for others to see. I was in Elyse class at the time and we were best friends and my sister and ian were too. I cry even to this day about their deaths, the memory of my parents telling me and my sister that they were gone keeps playing over and over again in my head. The Friday at the soccer field when they renamed it, I was there sing "Let there be peace on earth" I couldn't help but cry knowing I won't get to see her again. Me and my dad made a memorial, for the school, but first I showed it to their mom. She cried when she first saw it. She told me thank you and that she knew that they would have loved it. She asked if she could keep it for a while and I let her. I haven't seen her in 5 years and I don't know if it is at the school, but I don't care I know it is in the hands of someone who was touch by them.

  9. Thank you so much for sharing that with others. This is a tragedy that even complete strangers can never forget. It's very beautiful that you felt compelled to DO something and to share that thoughtfulness with their mother. Hugs to you.

    [FL] Mother of children Elyse & Ian shot in Detective Terry's familicide speaks out

  10. AnonymousMay 09, 2011

    You're welcome and I hope this never has to happen to anyone. Just in being her friend it hurt me so much, and having this happen I've fallen apart, I can't trust anyone like I trusted Elyse.

  11. Without even knowing the kids this effected me very much. It was too cruel, brutal, and unnecessary to comprehend - both to the kids and to everyone who loves them. But I know Elyse wouldn't want you to fall apart or distrust the world. If she had this life to live I'm sure she'd want to enjoy it for everything it's worth and trying your best to heal so that you can hug life again is the best legacy that you can offer back to Elyse. At least try. No one should be able to steal life. Hugs. <3

    Don't let the stealer have more. No no. Life is full of beauty too, annnnd beautiful people. I will pray for your young heart to not harden.

    Much love,


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