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Police Confirm Murder-Suicide In Deaths Of Father, 4-Year-Old Son Greyson Kessler Hours Before Emergency Pick-Up Order Was Denied

FORT LAUDERDALE (CBSMiami) – Fort Lauderdale police confirmed on Monday afternoon the deaths of a father and his 4-year-old son was domestic-related murder-suicide which took place just hours before the boy's mother petitioned for and was denied an emergency order for authorities to pick up the child for his protection.

Police said the preliminary investigation revealed John Stacey shot and killed his son before turning the gun on himself Thursday night, May 20 inside his unit at the Las Olas by the River condos. The boy has been identified by family as Greyson Martin Kessler, described as a shining light, a child who was always smiling and laughing.

The tragic murder suicide took place just hours before a protection order filed by Greyson's mother, Allison Kessler, was denied by a judge, according to court documents provided to CBS4 News.

Greyson Martin Kessler go fund me pics
Greyson Martin Kessler (GoFundMe)

The father and son were found late Friday night.  According to the Kessler's attorney, Greyson was picked up by Stacey on Wednesday and investigators believe the two died sometime Thursday.

By that time, Greyson's mother Allison had been filing a flurry of court pleadings.

On Thursday, May 20, she asked for an injunction to keep Stacey away from her and her son saying he was sending threatening text messages.

One read, "You deserve to have your head separated from body, and deserve to die. But I am not the violent type. God will deal with you."

Kessler also told the court that Stacey is a previous member of a cult called "The Moonies," has not received treatment or therapy to address his PTSD from the cult, or the anger he has toward her for having his child.

Kessler claimed that Stacey created fake social media accounts to reach out and harass her and also contacted her friends, family and harassed them as well. He left abusive voice mail messages and she said he left a tracker on her car which she turned over to police.

The court documents state he texted her about knowing where she was and what she was doing. She also claimed he pulled credit reports and background checks on family and friends.

Then in a sudden change of tone, another text read, "I know you think I'm crazy. And it's true. Crazy about YOU! Instead of calling me John going forward, you can address me as Baby Love!"

She went on, writing to the Judge, "His behavior is erratic and escalating, and I fear for my life, my boyfriend's life, and most of all my child. He is unstable mentally. I am requesting a permanent restraining order against Mr. Stacey."

The judge denied the request saying, "Petitioner has failed to allege any overt acts by Respondent which would constitute domestic violence under Florida Statute."

The same day, Greyson's mom became more concerned because Stacey was not responding.  Police believe the two were already dead. She had police go by to check, they could not locate him.

On May 21, Allison filed for an emergency pick up of Greyson. Her attorney told the judge, "...the father is wrongfully detaining the minor child.  The Mother is justifiably concerned the minor child may be injured in the Father's care." According to the attorney, that final pleading was denied about 12 hours after the two were found dead.

Late Monday afternoon, the 17th Judicial Circuit released the following statement after a request from CBS4 News for comment:

"The 17th Judicial Circuit is aware of the tragic situation reported in the news over the weekend. Judges are prohibited from commenting on pending proceedings and cannot discuss the specifics of any orders. It cannot be stressed enough that if someone has reason to believe a child or any other person is in danger, they should call law enforcement – in all instances. We extend to the family and mother of this horrific event our deepest condolences."

In a statement, the family wrote, "The family of Greyson Martin Kessler is devastated by the loss of our baby boy. Greyson was the kindest, smartest, most animated kid we have ever known.

"Greyson's mother, Alison Kessler, did everything she could to keep her child safe from harm. We feel that the system failed us at every level, from her attorney to the police department, to the court system.

"There were many red flags exhibited by John Stacey that were never acted upon, even though Alison reported his bizarre and threatening behavior and went through all the proper channels. This tragedy could have been prevented if proper action had been taken to help Alison and Greyson.

"Greyson was the light of our lives, and the world is darker without him in it. Those who wish to help can donate to our GoFundMe."

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