A 53-year-old Long Beach teacher was murdered in front of her students on a playground, and police believe that a custody dispute may have been at the bottom of it all. If so, this is one custody battle that has played out tragically in several lives, including those of the children the fight was allegedly over.
Kellye Taylor, a teacher at Huntington Academy, was watching her students play on the jungle gym in Orizaba Park when she was stabbed in the neck by a man police believe is the boyfriend of her daughter and father of her grandchildren. Steven Brown, 50, was arrested on suspicion of the murder. According to police, Brown was angry with Taylor because she reported his alleged abuse of his five children, ages two to 17, to social services, resulting in their removal from the home and placement with Taylor as a foster mother.
Brown is the biological father of three of the five children that were in Taylor’s custody. According to a lawsuit filed by Brown against Long Beach Police and the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services, as well as several individual social workers, he blamed Taylor for her interference in the custody matter. He also claimed that Taylor interfered with her daughter’s relationship with him, telling her she would be better off without him.
Despite Brown’s claims, Taylor’s was not the first claim that Brown and Tia Taylor, daughter of the victim, had neglected and abused their children. According to police reports, the home was rat-infested, strewn with debris and without any food. Brown was also convicted of punching one of the children, a 16-year-old boy, in the face. Brown was ordered to stay away from the children for three years. Tia Taylor also faced criminal charges for allegedly fighting with Brown.
In situations in which there is physical, verbal or emotional abuse, it is important to take the abuse seriously and to take steps to protect yourself and your children. A family law attorney may be able to help those who are struggling with abuse issues in the context of their own families.