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The Daily Mail
By Ashley Collman For Dailymail.com
Five-year-old Kenny Kreuscher was visiting family in Montana on March 5 when he was shot dead by his mother in his sleep
Mom Sara Atkinson then turned the gun on herself and committed suicide
The boy’s father, Ken Kreuscher, says he has been warning child protection services about his wife’s paranoid behavior for years
However, he says that CPS case workers ignored his pleas.
A five-year-old boy was shot dead by his mother in a tragic murder-suicide earlier this month and now the boy’s father is speaking out about how he warned authorities about his mentally ill ex-wife.
Kenny Kreuscher was visiting family in Montana on March 5 when his mother, 41-year-old Sara Atkinson, shot him in the head in his sleep before turning the gun on herself.
The boy’s father, Ken Kreuscher, says that he had been trying to gain full custody of his son for years, after watching his wife become more and more mentally unstable.
Still, he says that Denver Child Protective Services failed to heed his warnings and are responsible for the boy’s tragic death just days before his sixth birthday.
Kreuscher says he broke up with his wife a few years ago, and since then they had shared custody of their son.
Recently, Kreuscher says his ex had stopped taking medications and was becoming increasingly paranoid, believing there were cameras and bombs hidden away in her home.
She also became violent towards their son, Kreuscher claims.
In one video – recorded just days before his son’s death – Ken speaks to Kenny about a bruise on his arm allegedly caused by the boy’s mother.
‘She punched me like that,’ Kenny says in the clip.
‘Who punched you?’ his dad asks.
‘Mommy,’ the boy responds.
Kreuscher says he showed the video to a case worker, who came to visit his home shortly after. However, the case worker reportedly told the concerned father that there wasn’t much she could do.
‘And she stood in front of me and pointed at my closet and said, “Unless your kid’s being stuck in a closet every day or beaten every day, I’m not going to do anything about it, and if you call back, if I hear back from you about this kind of stuff, I’m going to take him from you and her,”‘ Kreuscher told KDVR.
Kreuscher says he tried in vain to get a restraining order against his ex and that she even threatened to kill their son before.
‘She had threatened to do it before,’ Kreuscher told KUSA. ‘She said, “I’m going to kill myself. I’m going to take him with me.”‘
‘The loss of this child is an absolute tragedy for this family, their loved ones and friends, and for our community and agency. We are working to understand the circumstances surrounding this horrible act,’ the statement reads.
Kreuscher says he is speaking out in an attempt to stop a similar tragedy from happening to another parent.
‘I’m here because I don’t want this to happen to anybody else. It’s not right what they did,’ he said.
A memorial was held for Kenny on Sunday. He would have turned six years old on Saturday.
The father of a 5-year-old Denver boy shot by his mother in his sleep while visiting Montana last weekend says he had tried for months to convince Denver County child welfare workers the woman was paranoid and his son was not safe.
Kenny Kreuscher would have turned 6 this month. He died after he was shot in the head with a .22 rifle while he slept last Saturday night, March 5, while visiting his grandfather’s house, his father said. His mother, Sara Atkinson, 41, then shot herself in what Montana authorities called a murder-suicide. Atkinson and the boy’s father, Ken Kreuscher, had been embroiled in a years’ long custody battle and multiple incidents involving Denver police and Denver County child welfare workers. In recent months, the battle had escalated, and Kreuscher told caseworkers the boy’s mother was growing increasingly paranoid, believing there were cameras and bombs in her home, he said.
“She had threatened to do it before,” Kreuscher said. “She said, ‘I’m going to kill myself. I’m going to take him with me.’ “
The parents had 50-50 custody of Kenny, and Kreuscher said he blames child welfare officials for not taking his concerns seriously enough.
Denver County child welfare officials would not talk about the specifics of the case, citing privacy laws.
“The loss of this child is an absolute tragedy for this family, their loved ones and friends, and for our community and agency,” said Julie Smith, communications director for the county human services department, which includes child welfare. “We are working to understand the circumstances surrounding this horrible act.”
She encouraged “any parent out there” experiencing suicidal thoughts or thoughts of harming a child to call the agency’s help line: 1-844-493-TALK, or 8255.
The state human services department is required to review any fatality or egregious abuse of a child who had previous involvement with the child welfare system. The latest pending investigation listed on the state’s fatality review list, which does not include children’s names, is regarding a 5-year-old boy.
Kreuscher rushed to Montana when he learned his son was in a Billings hospital, brain dead after the shooting near the small town of Roundup. He arrived from Denver two hours after the boy’s death.
“I begged them to keep him alive until we got there,” he said.
Jennifer Brown: 303-954-1593, jenbrown@ denverpost.com or @jbrowndpost
Editor’s note: After this story ran, the family of Sara Atkinson sent this letter to The Denver Post:
We appreciate the kind thoughts, prayers and respect for our privacy from the Denver community while we grieve the tragic death of our daughter Sara Katherine Atkinson and grandson Kenneth Liam Walter Kreuscher.
We are grateful for Colorado state Senator Linda Newell’s investigation into the handling of our daughter Sara‘s ongoing custody dispute. It is certain that the true facts will be revealed, that she was a kind, loving and dedicated mother, daughter, sister and friend; and that her character will be vindicated from the false image portrayed in the news media.
Sara and Kenny are remembered for the love and joy they brought to our family and friends. They are sadly missed by all of us who truly knew and loved them.
Sincerest regards, Mr. & Mrs. John E. Kratzer and Mr. & Mrs. Walter P. Atkinson