After Orono murder-suicide, a push to change custody laws

It’s not often you see campaigning for changes to the law in an obituary, but the murder-suicide in Orono this week, as heartbreaking a story as there is, provides the rarity in today’s Star Tribune.

Gina Summers killed her 5-year-old son, Jude Sandberg, then herself on Sunday or Monday.

She had apparently been feuding with her ex-husband since a two-day custody battle in 2015.

Today, the boy’s obituary appeared in the paper.

Jude Nicolas Sandberg
Sandberg, Jude Nicolas Age 5, of Minnetonka. Jude was a happy, energetic and outgoing little boy. He loved anything to do with cars. He loved fishing at the cabin and floor hockey with his dad and brother, Nico. He was very social and made many friends in his 5 short years.

His life was tragically cut short. The family wants to try and make good out of this senseless tragedy. To that end we will be working with senators and legislators to pass a new law, Jude’s law, in his name to require additional psychological testing in certain circumstances to prevent this from ever happening to another family.

Additionally the family wishes to create a scholarship in Jude’s name. We take comfort in knowing that Jude is with God in heaven, our little angel that will be so sorely missed by his daddy, brother, family and friends. I will meet you again in Heaven my little Ju Ju Bean.

Survived by, loving family, father Jeff Sandberg, brother Nicolas Sandberg, grandparents Dennis and Gloria Sandberg, aunt Joelle (Steve) Skarvan, uncle Steve (Sara) Sandberg, cousins Mae & Elsa Sandberg and Bill, Samantha & Ben Mennell, many other family and friends. Mass of Christian Burial Saturday, Sept. 9, 2017 at 11 AM at St. Therese Catholic Church, 18323 Minnetonka Blvd., Deephaven (952-473-4422).

Visitation for one hour prior to the service at the church on Saturday. Private family interment. In lieu of flowers, memorials preferred for a scholarship in Jude’s name. Huber Funeral & Cremation Services Excelsior Chapel 952-474-9595 huberfunerals.com

It’s not entirely clear how the law would be changed that would mandate psychological testing in custody cases. Current law allows for 72-hour confinement if someone is considered a danger to him/herself or someone else. Absent a stated threat, that would be a significant change in Minnesota law that lawmakers would consider. It’s not something to pass quickly in sympathy with a family.

But how would the law change? A statement from the family, obtained by KSTP, provides little in the way of detail.

“One week ago, Jeffry Sandberg was fishing in the Boundary Waters with his sons, 5-year old Jude and Nico Sandberg, and Grandpa Sandberg,” the statement read. “Today he is planning the funeral for Jude, murdered by his mother, Gina Summers, when he was getting ready for his first day of Ready Start Kindergarten. The storyline printed or broadcast so far needs to be clarified, as the case has been characterized as being a custody battle. That is inaccurate.

“Custody was determined following a two-day Trial in November, 2015. The mother, since the onset of the case in January, 2015 when she falsely accused the father of domestic abuse, never missed an opportunity to disrupt the established father-son relationship, both inside and outside of the Family Court paternity proceedings. Her actions and inactions, including her scheduling of multiple Motions before the Court, not only before but also after the Trial, and subsequently to the Court of Appeals, and her absolute refusal to participate in ordered mediation traumatized Father and his entire family over the last 2 1/2 years.

“Make no mistake, the Family Court recognized early on in the case the need for Father to play an integral part in Jude’s life – in order to serve his best interests – resulting in an award of joint legal and joint physical custody of Jude with equal parenting time; and the determination of September 1, 2017 that Jude would begin school on September 5, 2017.

“Mr. Sandberg intends to do what he can to ensure that Jude’s life was not wasted, by working with Legislators and the Courts to add to the current body of Family Law statutes, to require more comprehensive mental health testing when facts indicate such a need.

“The family and friends of Jude Sandberg are experiencing pain and grief beyond measure, and request privacy and space – and prayers – at this time.”

  • Bridget L.

    I guess it’s good that they want to shine light on mental health. What I don’t like is that they took the time to clear up some misconceptions. Who cares!? This is a tragedy, a heart wrenching tragedy, why not take the time to just be with family and try to find some peace rather than, what I would characterize, as grandstanding about your side of the story after the fact. I haven’t been able to shake Gina or Jude for the past couple of days.

    • crystals

      Who cares? They do, obviously. And I’m not going to judge them for that, or for how they’re choosing to spend their time right now.

      • I noticed there was no obituary for the mother. Everyone should have an obituary.

        • crystals

          I agree with you, and hope that those who love her write one.

          • Clearly there was a mental illness involved here. I can easily imagine the difficulty in separating the act from that fact. But a brain that turned on her makes her a sympathetic figure too.

          • Wampum Redistributor

            Oh really? Wrong sir. She was mentally ill and killed her child. Mr. Sandburg probably had ample time to realize it and recognize the danger. He did all he could. I sympathize with the woman in that she didn’t get help for her illness. A tiny, tiny modicum of sympathy. The rest I save for the father and child ripped apart for eternity. “the difficulty in separating the act from that fact” Good grief. Has your boss seen your opinion? Show him.

          • Bridget L.

            You have NO idea of what she went through or who she was, only what one side has to say. It is absolutely the definition of tragedy what happened and I hope the all the people involved are able to find peace one day.

          • hatetoregister

            Does what she went through matter when she killed a kid? I don’t get it! THIS WOMAN MURDERED A CHILD! HOW ON EARTH can ANYONE justify her actions?

          • Nobody has.

          • Wampum Redistributor

            It doesn’t matter what happened to her. Those things happened to her based on her own life choices. She chose her partner. She chose to have a child. The child never had a choice. The child was an innocent. Any argument she had, and any sympathy I may have had, went out the window when she killed her child. Period.

          • i_amZam

            Ive been advised numerous times of the possibilities of my children ending up in foster care due to my Ex not being cooperative and willing to co-parent. Therefore, the courts possibly finding BOTH of us as not fit to parent the kids. Which is complete nightmare to think about. But like i said before, if you keep your heart in the right place during the process, even if the worst thing happened, it wouldn’t and shouldn’t weigh heavy on your conscious. Especially if you were doing all you can. At least not mine, in my case, my conscious would be clear knowing that i wanted what was best for my kids, and that included having their mother AND father in their lives.

          • Patricia Ann

            As if u can control yr exs behavior. This justice system is corrupted.

          • i_amZam

            Not so much corrupted..but I feel like it’s Unrealistic.

          • Wampum Redistributor

            Each parent had 50% visitation rights. Apparently that was too much for the Mom. I’m sorry, but I have zero sympathy for a woman who kills her innocent child. I do not care what happened to her previously. There is no excuse.

          • i_amZam

            I agree.. There is NO excuse. It’s heartbreaking to watch people be so uncivilized with each other.

        • Patricia Ann

          I totally agree !!

        • Kassie

          Also the mother’s family seems to be completely left out of the obituary for the kid. No mention of her siblings, parents or grandparents.

          • Patricia Ann

            I think it probably came from the father’s side and who knows, maybe there was parent alienating going on ??

        • Patricia Ann

          I kinda wonder if the mother fought this battle alone and was under attack by the ex’s family and bountiful of lawyers…. Its just an observation… His attorney came out swinging very quickly to defend him… I am sure they are only doing their job….

        • Jonathan Chounard

          She does it is in the inforum. Her family lives in the Detroit lakes, mn area.

        • Mindful13
        • i_amZam

          I noticed too and i agree 🙁

        • Laura

          http://www.daviddonehower.com/notices/Gina-Summers

          In the context of contested custody cases, less than two percent of reports by mothers against fathers are deliberately false.

          The Saunders’ study from the National Institute of Justice in the U.S. Justice Department http://bit.ly/1x1yUvT found that fathers are 16 times more likely than mothers to make deliberate false reports.

          “At first glance this seems hard to believe as women are not 16 times more honest than men, but this is not what the study says. The study is limited to contested custody cases which are overwhelmingly domestic violence cases with the worst abusers. They believe that she had no right to leave so they are entitled to use any tactic necessary to reassert the control they believe they are entitled to.” Barry Goldstein (Safe Child Act)

      • Bridget L.

        I guess I am judging.

        • Bridget L.

          And I’m completely okay with that.

        • Patricia Ann

          No, you are not judging, it does take a person such as a loving mother to do what she has w/stress, fear, emotions and just tired of fighting and then mix in mental illness…. but there has to be more to this story, it seems strange that the timing of both of their demise is around the time she has sued for money and I did read somewhere that the father refused to pay 9 months of child support… actions speak louder than words at time….

          • I read the MN Court of Appeals opinions every Monday morning. A LOT of the cases are custody cases. A LOT of them. When I finish, it can take me hours to get backt o a point where I feel there’s any hope for some kids.

          • Patricia Ann

            Its sad, isnt it? The what is in the best interest of the child, is no longer a part of the war of the roses….

    • D Parks

      Yes, it is the grandstanding so quickly after the tragedy seems odd, a little off.

  • Patricia Ann

    Having experienced a years long custody battle myself. I have learned there is always two sides of every story and one of story teller is no longer here…

    • Bridget L.

      You said it way more succinctly than I did. Thank you.

      • Patricia Ann

        Aww, thank you for the nice compliment and you are welcome 🙂

    • diamondlex

      Agreed!

  • TDAmerican

    This is a tragic event all the way around. However, I disbelieve Mr. Sandberg’s version of his story and believe his narcissistic, controlling and abusive mannerisms is what should be looked at. His grandstanding behind his lawyers is exactly what individuals like Mr. Sandberg do. The mental health evaluation needs to be done on Mr. Sandberg but that won’t happen due to his ability to supply attorneys with money and the perception of a successful, white male business man to @Hennepin CountyFamilyCourt. @HennepinCounty Courts and Child Protection have been failing children for years and continue to do so. Maybe this will be a wakeup call to @GovMarkDayton and Hennepin County courts about the laws they have passed and the bias that exists in the family courts and child protection issues. They system needs to be fixed before tragedies continue to happen and the “best Interest Rulings” need to be reviewed and modified quickly.

    Gina was an active community member and well like individual who was very proud and loved her son.

    For all those who are wondering; I am a white, successful male who is tired of continuing seeing these tragedies happen due to an unfair and bias system that is failing those who it is supposed to be protecting. Wake up MN and #HennepinCounty and protect our children not those who have the most money.

    • Bridget L.

      Bravo.

    • Patricia Ann

      You are telling mine and everyone that has walked in Gina’s shoes. Bravo like Bridget L said…. I have a current ex of a nightmare as you described that is hiding behind counselors, GAL’s, all boys liberal judges and father right attorneys. Gov Dayton and everyone else probably won’t give a damn about this case or anyone elses…. they are only looking out for the BLM voters and keeping the protesters at bay…. Sorry, for making this into a race card, do not mean to, but it seems the family law cases have been put on the back burner until something tragic like this opens up peoples blur vision….

      • Jerry

        What does BLM have to do with any of this? One white person murders another white person yet it is still black people’s fault?

        • Patricia Ann

          It doesnt… I was commenting how the gov have been focusing so much on the blm protestors that it doesnt seem like every issue is being looked at… doesnt matter what color they are deserve justice. And yes the victims are white… We need to figure out how did she get this far emotionally and mentally to do this…

          • Malissa Shore

            Not victims, VICTIM. The child was murdered. What was going through his mind when she tied that noose? Was he afraid? Did he struggle? Did he know that he was going to die? That takes an evil that nothing can or will ever justify. Ever! She CHOSE to kill that baby! Then CHOSE to kill herself. For no other reason, then that she didn’t want to share custody? She didn’t want him to start school? There is no reason WHY, no reason to justify this! There was ONE victim, that innocent 5 year old little boy who died because of his mothers pure unadulterated selfishness!

      • D Parks

        Feels like a troll.

        • Patricia Ann

          Probably who knows???

    • TM

      You should know better. Gina murdered her son. 50% custody was not enough for her madness. You need an eval.

      • TDAmerican

        TM,
        I think maybe you misunderstood my post. Neither myself nor anybody else with a Christian faith and value system believes the end result and actions should have happened .

        What I did say is that the bias and unjustness of Hennepin County system, courts, referees, and judges involved in making these crucial decisions are not in the best interest of the children of Minnesota but those who have the biggest wallets and play the poor me card, typically males. The decision makers and players that are making these unbelievably important decisions, whom are supposedly suppose to be fair and unbiased, are making decisions that are unfair, biased, and simple, if I can say, despicable. These unfair and unjust decisions can and do put insurmountable pressures on individuals, mainly mothers, to face and try and defend. These pressures are not only monetary but also physical and emotional. Unless you have personal experience of the system and decisions the system makes, you can’t even fathom how broken it is.

        Unfortunately, Jude is not the first, nor probably the last, victim of a severely broken, bias, and deteriorated system. What happened to Jude is a symptom of a broken and bias system. So many other children have fallen to this broken system such as Desi Irving and Eric Dean. We shouldn’t be a mother or father state but rather a state that advocates and protects our children who have unfortunately found themselves in this situation outside of their control. Unfortunately, Minnesota, specifically Hennepin County, has a reputation of taking extreme measures to equal the “maternal and paternal playing field” despite what is in the true best interest of the children involved. Fair is not always equal and equal is not always fair.

        If you really wanted to protect the most valuable assets in Minnesota, our children, then you too would speak up for a review of the entire Hennepin County Family Court and Child Protection system. If not, I understand, as you would be just one more person blindly “sounding off” and hiding behind a Twitter or a Facebook account. Don’t worry though, as you fit in with the majority

        • crystals

          I’m pretty sure Christians aren’t the only people with value systems that care about the well being of children. Just saying.

          • Sheree Wells

            Did that statement honestly offend you. I doubt that he meant it to be a derogatory statement. I believe he was just speaking for himself. Yes, I am a Christian. I believe we all feel the same pain and sadness and understand the exact same way. Just saying.

          • crystals

            No, it did not offend me. I thought it was strangely specific and therefore worth clarifying that Christians do not own the market on caring for children.

          • Sheree Wells

            I understand what you are saying. I just don’t understand why you would pick that out of everything he said. It isn’t and shouldn’t be the focus of his statement. I can’t really speak for TD, but I don’t feel that anyone owns the market on caring or having feelings for anybody. I really would find it hard to believe that TD meant to insinuate that. But, I guess it was important for you to point that out just in case someone thinks that a Christian thinks they are above anyone else. I don’t think that at all. I’m just trying to do the best for me and my loved ones. I sure don’t purposely try to hurt others because they feel or think differently than I do. I don’t dislike you just because you may or may not believe in Christ.
            I hope I haven’t offended you. Please have a beautiful finish to your day.

          • JamieHX

            Crystals didn’t pick that statement out of the whole comment because he/she thought it was the most important thing. It was an “Incidentally…” kind of thing. That’s a big part of what “Just sayin’…” means.
            I thought it was an odd thing to say, too. I appreciate a lot of what TD said, but that statement about “Christian values” gives me pause.

        • Patricia Ann

          I couldnt of said it better myself…

        • Andrew Clark

          Strange. In my experience the mothers are more likely to be the abusive manipulative ones. Take my aunt for example. She has documented cases of abuse against her. My uncle filed numerous police reports and civil complaints in an attempt to gain custody of my cousins. Now she has full custody and the younger one is almost constantly psychologically and physically abused and he cuts. Top it all off she is a police detective who runs the local department’s child welfare division. Nevada law says that mother’s automatically get custody except for certain circumstances. The law should be changed to give neither side the benefit of the doubt and an exhaustive investigation done by child services to determine who’s a better fit.

          • i_amZam

            Trust me when i say that not even Child Services would be able to make a decision as to which parent is a better fir parent. They don’t care, we are lucky they care the little bit that they do pertaining to cases currently going through Child Services. I got into a really amazing conversation with an Angel over at DCFS one day, as i told her that i felt like the social worker didn’t share the same concern as i did. She proceeded to explain that all i needed to do was call back again and get a different worker. Then she followed to admit that most workers will either treat your case like all the others or not care enough. And its devastating because there are kids in true danger out there..

          • Patricia Ann

            Pretty sad….

          • Kenneth Smith

            look at one county in one state. Giving out ballgame tickets as incentive to close cases within a month!! And there was no concern whatsoever for the children.

          • i_amZam

            Im livid over this..What States??

          • Kenneth Smith

            I believe it was Lake County in Illinois who was doing this @I_amZam

          • i_amZam

            Where can i read on this, any suggestions?

          • Kenneth Smith
          • Patricia Ann

            It usually is the mother… Thats why it was hard for anyone to believe my story … Any parent can be an alienator

          • diamondlex

            The bigger question is who in your family cares enough to put an end to this child abuse i.e. report it all the time? Take matters into your own hands? why are we sitting on the side line watching?

          • Kenneth Smith

            But even with reporting the abuse, sometimes the agencies tend to look the other way. For me, I had a witness and I had the family doctor inform me to call protective services, from his office, and still protective services did nothing. Only did it take my ex committing a felony and getting arrested, that then the legal system took my side of things and we went to court. As for my ex, she dug herself into a hole, just by getting on the courts bad side. Not nice to make the judge angry; during both hearings.
            But my point is, if the protective system doesn’t listen, then who do you turn to?

          • i_amZam

            Seeing my parents watch all this happen to me from the side lines has been the hardest thing EVER… harder than the actual custody battle. I find my custody battle pretty simple if everyone would keep the best interest of our boys in mind. Loosing my family to the lies my Ex has spread has been the hardest for me. But that doesn’t make me any less powerful, i may have a small support system consisting of just me and my faith in god. This might seem like nothing compared to his support group/enablers..But my faith runs far and wide. Ill be DAMNED.

        • Nags

          “Neither myself nor anybody else with a Christian faith and value system believes the end result and actions should have happened .”

          Why mention Christianity? Many Christians are bad, selfish people. Being Christian has no bearing on this. Some of them even make excuses for mothers who murder their own children.

          ” are making decisions that are unfair, biased, and simple, if I can say, despicable.”

          but you provide no examples or evidence. You imply that this happened in this case. Evidence?

          “These unfair and unjust decisions can and do put insurmountable pressures on individuals, mainly mothers, to face and try and defend.”

          In what way did this happen with this case? As of now this is an irrelevant statement in terms of this case.

          “Unless you have personal experience of the system and decisions the system makes, you can’t even fathom how broken it is.”

          People posses empathy which allows them to understand without experiencing. But you’re providing no information so there’s nothing to understand here.

          “What happened to Jude is a symptom of a broken and bias system.”

          In what way and how could it have been fixed in this very specific case? WHat have you done to address this besides yell incoherently at people here?

          “Unfortunately, Minnesota, specifically Hennepin County, has a reputation of taking extreme measures to equal the “maternal and paternal playing field” despite what is in the true best interest of the children involved.”

          What proof do you have of this?

          • Sheree Wells

            People in general can be bad. Anyone can call themselves a Christian. Doesn’t mean you walk the walk. It’s not just a title you give yourself. I was a single mother and had children by two fathers. My oldest daughters father never paid support or helped with the raising of my daughter. However, he did all he could to try to take her from me including calling protective services on me for nonsense. Eventually I was ordered to allow her to go stay with him. It was a frightening experience for her and for me and my husband. I did not agree with the decision. I knew her father very well. He wasn’t a very reputable person at the time. However, I complied with the system. I would NOT kill my child nor myself to prevent him seeing her. Even if I was certain it would not be in my daughters best interest. Taking her life in my hands. Wow. How could you do that to a child that trust you to keep them safe.

    • Patricia Ann

      Well we need to vote out the liberal judges and demand better training for GAL’s who can identify parent alienation and same goes for the judges. PA is a real thing and until the courts hold the alienating parent accountable this will continue and the child will only be the one who suffers. Im sorry for your loss…

    • Les McCarver

      So you’re blaming this man who just wanted time with his son and the court system for the death of this little boy? I’m sorry if my daughter were killed by my ex, I’d be up there doing the same thing as this man. I’d be using every opportunity to work with the law makers to save another child’s life. This was pure selfishness on the mother’s side. She decided that if she can’t have her son all to herself then no one could have him.

      By reading this story, I did not see anything that was narcissistic, Controlling and abusive. I do understand there are 3 sides to every story. His side, Her side and then the truth, but that doesn’t change the fact that the mother was the one that MURDERED her son. It’s clear by your comments that you knew mom, but probably only knew the story that mom fed you. Parents that Alienate are great at manipulation and lying, maybe you need to step back and assess the entire situation instead of blaming the father and the court system.

    • Vonetta McGhee

      Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! I am so appreciative of your response. I have read this story on various outlets online and the consensus of people attacking this woman just goes to show that have never been in her shoes. They have never been abused by a narcissist and they have never been subjected to our joke of a legal system. I am a well versed intelligent woman who was married for 20 years. My ex is an educated executive who used his status and money to wipe the floor with me in court and make me out to be the villain when the truth was he mentally and emotionally abused me and his children for years but he was such a master at his deceit that anytime me and my children cried out for help it fell on deaf ears. To be driven to a place of despair where you feel you have no way out and your child is at risk is inexplicable and you cannot not think straight. There were days I too though of starting the car with my children inside and closing the garage door BUT thereby the grace of God He saved me and got me free from my abuser. Having said that, I am sorry for that child and the family left behind BUT I understand her state of mind to take it that far and I understand what it is like to not only be abused by someone you share a child with but by the judicial system as well who is supposed to be there for victims. Our judicial system is a joke and it is set up only for those with monetary resources to go the distance. Lawyers and judges care nothing about the truth and we can on and on about reform but nothing will change. We will keep sitting on pedestals judging others when stuff like this happens when the truth is people have no clue what truly goes on between a man and a woman and we only expose our ignorance when we simply chalk people up as crazy. We are all crazy. What kind of crazy are you?

      • hatetoregister

        SO you are blaming your ex for YOUR CHOICE to stay with him AND have kids with him? You were married, according to you, for 20 years! YOU had a choice! YOU CHOSE! YOU have to live with your choices, BUT kids need BOTH of their parents! If you were driven crazy, maybe you needed mental help! YOU should have gotten that help FOR YOURSELF! However, even if you did not, you did not KILL your kids! So CLEARLY you weren’t the kind of crazy to kill your kids! SHE WAS! She was CLEARLY unstable! Equal parenting time is meant to protect the child AND the parent’s rights. If she didn’t feel up to it, then she should have given full custody to the father and checked herself into a mental hospital! She chose to KILL instead! She is a murderer and nothing you can say can or will change that fact!

        • Vonetta McGhee

          LOL! You are funny. God Bless You!

        • i_amZam

          I somewhat agree with this…I can complain about my Ex from A-Z and about how spiteful he is and his alienation..but at the end of the day, i am in the position I’m in due to my actions. I choose to have 2 kids with him, its my fault for not getting to know the guy first. I never thought my Ex would be like this, but this just goes to show that even after 4 years i never really knew him. And because this has my name written all over it, I’m not going to allow myself to drown in the issue. I make sure my mind set is in the right place at all time, because its easy to get lost in your thoughts and feelings and the opinion of other. If you are going through something like this, PLEASE REMEMBER THAT FOR AS LONG AS YOU HAVE YOUR HEART IN THE RIGHT PLACE AND YOU HAVE THE BEST INTEREST OF YOUR CHILDREN IN MIND, NOTHING CAN BREAK WHAT YOU ARE TRYING TO DO. NO MATTER WHAT ANYONE COMES AT YOU WITH, EVERYTHING WILL ALWAYS LEAD RIGHT BACK TO DOING THE RIGHT THING.

    • Harry Scher

      Yes, it’s so sad. What a tragic loss. Everyone lost in this crazy court battle — the mother and child are dead – the father has lost his son—-Who was the winner here? The court system failed the entire family. And likely because the father had his high-powered, highly paid attorneys who really didn’t care about the family, they just wanted to make the big bucks. The father now gets to live with his bad choices for the rest of his life.

      • i_amZam

        I feel like sometimes you can have the biggest highest paying team of lawyers, but there is such thing as hiring the WRONG lawyer for you. And thats what usually happens. They won’t have your children best interest at heart or yours for that matter. All they care about is how long can we drag this out, because thats cash ring$ to them. So you can the best lawyer in town, but that doesn’t mean that he’s dong his job, yet alone doing it right.

    • Devils Child

      The boy was safe in his father’s care. You can’t dispute that.

  • Jerry

    There seems to be an awful lot of projecting here.

  • D Parks

    Sometimes a story just sounds contrived. I hope the authorities are looking into this thoroughly. Maybe she did this, maybe both of them were murdered.

  • Mindful13

    Excerpt from J.S.S. v G.I.S. Appellate Case A16-1334, Opinion filed April 3, 2017:

    On March 8, 2016, the district court filed an order that determined custody and parenting-time issues, and judgment was entered on the order that day. The district court made a finding of domestic abuse. It explained that, in June 2014, father threatened to shove a piece of steel decking through mother’s throat and that this single incident rose to the level of domestic abuse. The district court acknowledged that mother alleged other incidents of abuse, but found that some incidents did not rise to the level of domestic abuse and that others could not be corroborated with independent evidence.

    The deaths of Gina Summers and son Jude are tragic. I feel for the grieving families, but from this appellate court opinion, Gina was a victim of domestic abuse. That is no excuse for what occurred and it is certainly not justification. Father Jeff Sandberg should focus on grieving the loss of his son, rather than taking time to distort the issues to the media, when Gina’s family is also grieving — grieving the loss of two members of their family. Mr. Sandberg should have some empathy for the other side of his son’s family. Hopefully he will not exclude Gina’s family from Jude’s funeral.

    Read the full case here: http://law.justia.com/cases/minnesota/court-of-appeals/2017/a16-1334.html

    • hatetoregister

      Wait a minute! You CANNOT infer from that case that she was actually the victim of domestic abuse! People who are going through a divorce say all kinds of things! I am a woman and I can tell you that I’ve said my fair share of things that I wished I could take back later. The simple truth is that she was fighting to prevent the father from having time with his kid and, when the court ruled that they should have JOINT custody, she ignored the court orders. She failed her psych exam. This woman WAS mentally ill! Killing your kid is NEVER a normal response. If she had an abnormal, overblown response to the kid starting school, she likely had the same abnormal and overblown response to statements the husband made in anger. SHE was in the wrong here and there is no defending someone who takes the life of a kid. PERIOD!

      • diamondlex

        Agreed but if everyone knew she failed the Psych exam including the family then everybody should have been pushing hard to get the boy away.

      • Cate Long

        Again, how does one “fail” a psych evaluation? Also, courts don’t just determine willy-nilly that domestic abuse occurred.

    • jerseyken

      He was defending himself. We were not a fly on the wall 24 hours a day so we don’t know what went on. He was accused, he defended, she killed the young boy.

      • i_amZam

        People get falsely accused DAILY. There are people walking this earth who find that IMPOSSIBLE to believe.

        I am a walking talking victim..The allegations against me, along with but ONE incident in my 28 years of life on earth, is what landed me with monitored visits.

        I was judged based on ONE slip-up. ONE incident that, wasn’t life threatening to ANYONE, an incident that I’m sure has happened in other homes. My judge could have gone as far back as my elementary school records, and would have found nothing that would match or comply with the allegations against me.

        Due to one incident, due to ONE moment of weakness between family. No one is perfect, yet alone a perfect parent.

        So yea, his statement was pretty intense and I’m sure she feared one way or another. But ONE incident like that should be bases for ANYTHING.

  • For you newbies, we don’t allow commenters to attack character or intelligence of other commenters. So if you don’t see your comment here, that’s why.

  • TM

    It’s important to note that Gina was allowed to continue fighting for full custody on top of her dubious claims through the help of an NGO. $100k. The father wanted 50% custody. No more, no less. Gina failed her psych evaluation. The judge did not pursue this grave concern. For good reason, the father was open to paying for her CBT and ongoing treatment. She refused. Pervasive Attachment Disorder.

    • Bridget L.

      Not doubting but would like to read for myself, do you have that source?

      • Mindful13
        • Gizymo

          “In June 2014, father threatened to shove a piece of steel decking through mother’s throat and that this single incident rose to the level of domestic abuse.”
          The mother alleged other abuses but did not arrive to the level abuse.
          thank you for the link, quite an interesting case.

    • Cate Long

      How does one “fail” a psych eval?

  • A in Pa

    A friend at work could not get custody of his child from the diagnosed mentally ill mother, even after the child had to call for help on more than one occasion “that Mommy won’t wake up”, when his mother went off her meds, when she attempted suicide, they got her back on her meds and pronounced her fit, her family finally had her committed, — then and only then did he finally get custody. The judge refused to give the more stable parent custody, so biased are they toward the mother. It took my step son two years to get custody of his son from a previously arrested drug addict. We finally had to hire a private detective to prove she was still (probably) dealing drugs, with photos of her associates and numerous people stopping by her apt for three to five minutes and then leaving. These court systems are a mess…. and whatever criteria they use for determining custody is very much in error. Nothing was alarming about her refusal to participate in mediation? Her excessive court filings? Thanks, Judge, getting more children killed. Remember the children of Josh Powell — Powell had said that he last saw his wife, Susan Cox-Powell, on a cold December night in 2009.
    That night, he said that he and his two sons — then ages 2 and 4 — left after midnight to go camping in below-freezing weather in a desert area in Tooele County, Utah. Powell-Cox’s sister eventually reported the mother, who would now be 29 years old, as missing.
    Our who nation is finding out what it’s like to deal with narcissists, they’re impossible, but for Gods sake, let’s stop enabling them

    • Patricia Ann

      U said it …

  • Martininsocal

    I am having a hard time accepting the bias story that somehow the MURDERER is a heroin here. Crazy is as crazy does, and she did it.

    • Where is the person who killed someone portrayed as a heroine in the story?

      • jerseyken

        There is a slight edge when referring to the husband and by the time I finished the article I forgot that she was the one that murdered the child. It also was not clear who wanted the law changed at first.

    • Patricia Ann

      The parent who murders a child a innocent victim will never get the title Hero from me..

  • lovelydion

    these judges and Lawyers may god help them, they need to revisit the custody thing for real, I see first hand what my husband went through and still going through….

  • Krista Nowak

    What a heartless obituary. It is not a place to make any remarks except ones about the life lost. His maternal relatives deserved to be listed. It’s not a place to point fingers.

  • hatetoregister

    I have to be honest here, the comments that are SUPPORTING this murderer are making me angry here. This woman was out of control! If you read the court filings, she would not adhere to the court rules. The father wanted JOINT custody, but she wanted FULL custody for herself. She was not satisfied with what the judge’s ruling and felt she knew better. She failed her psych evaluation. She KILLED her kid! Yet people on this board seem to want to give her a pass as if being angry about a divorce or joint custody is justification for killing a child! It IS NOT! She needed to seek counseling, but the problem was she was mentally ill and didn’t think she was! She is a murderer and, sadly, this little boy paid for her mental illness with his life!

    • There hasn’t been a single comment posted supporting the killing of a child.

      • Shaggy

        There are plenty supporting the killer and trying to rationalize her actions.

        • Love the sinner…hate the sin… etc. etc. etc.

  • Genee Woodson

    I hope the family succeeds in getting this made into law. I have either heard or read many times of parents who endanger their children and/or harm their children because of the way custody cases are handled in our courts. In my own custody case, there were no laws to protect my child from the typical go to decision of joint custody with a bad parent. The court wasn’t allowed to consider testimony about the other parent’s history of harm towards the family and child. It was too easily dismissed as hearsay or prejudicial regardless of its truthfulness. My child is grown now, but continues to suffer from the unintended fallout of routine court protocol that required he live part of his life around somebody not fit to be in charge of children. Family courts can be every bit as traumatic as superior court, and trauma can make people act in ways they normally would never do. Mandatory psychological testing across the board would make case law change dramatically and ultimately give children a help up in the world.

  • Steve L.

    Being a Family Law Lawyer in Texas for the past 23 years, it is sad that this little boy is no longer with us. In my experience of handling hundreds of family custody cases, there are times when one parent is so tied to the child that they grasp at anything to prevent the other parent from sharing a normal life with the child. It is a mental health issue, because most of the time that one parent has unreal expectations, and they are almost to the point of being delusional, which appears to be the case with this mother. No matter how bad it is, there are multiple levels of help available to each parent, and many levels of checks and balances, I am sure that in her mind, the mother felt she was doing what needed to be done to protect her child, as twisted as may be. With that said there was no need for the mother to take this precious child’s life. It is unfortunate that the system did not get her the psychological help she so dearly needed.

    • i_amZam

      Im so glad to be reading this… My conversations via Talking Parents with my Ex are something out of the twilight zone..Like we are speaking 2 different languages. Not even talking about the same topic. He has unrealistic expectations of me… I knew that wasn’t normal.

  • Guest

    R.I.P., mother and son.

  • LancentG

    Why does to obituary seem to only mention surviving relatives from the father’s side of the family?

  • Elmer Bling

    You would think that after the erratic behavior of the mother, the court would decide to grant full custody to the father. But I think in the U.S…along with many other nations, it is difficult to completely strip the partial custody of a mother.

  • Bmore Jake

    To really understand what happened here, you would need to understand why these two people got divorced. It seems that the mother felt like she was WRONGED in the marriage and subsequent divorce. She wanted to HURT the father. This is why she wanted 100% custody. When a woman asks for full custody, it’s because she wants to hurt the father EMOTIONALLY. This custody battle like most custody battles, had nothing to do with the child, it was about the parents and their grievances against each other. The mother in this case, felt powerless…the only power she had over the father, was the child…and she was not about to give that power up…she would rather destroy it than give it up and that is what she did. The laws don’t need to be changed because of this…PEOPLE NEED TO CHANGE…we wouldn’t need laws if people did the right thing. A man should never fight with a woman over custody of a child…because all you are doing, is putting that child’s life in danger. The more you fight with a woman over custody, the more power she feels she has in the situation and should that power be threatened by the courts, that child’s life will automatically be in danger. Sometimes, to win you have to lose. Had he not fought with the mother over child custody, the boy would still be alive today. The moral of the story should be, if you are a man and you love your child or children, do not fight the mother for custody if she does not want to willingly allow you to be a part of the children’s life. It’s better for them to be alive without you in their lives, than to be dead because you tried to be a part of their lives. This might be a tough thing for most fathers to do, but, if you love them and want to protect them, the best thing for you to do, is to play the situation in a way that will not allow the mother to think that hurting or killing your child, will hurt you! A mother who will not allow the father to be a part of the child’s life is IRRATIONAL and dangerous and a father who will not walk away from the situation is also irrational and dangerous…the only change in the law that I think should happen, is that, when two people cannot AMICABLY resolve custody issues, the children should be taken away from both parents and placed in FOSTER homes, for their protection, because, too many kids are being killed by a parent in these types of situations. Once in foster care, should any parent approach the child or children before the custody battle is resolved, they should be considered a threat to those children’s lives and be jailed immediately. If people knew the courts will take their children away from them, I think that they would try a little harder to work things out amicably.

    • Patricia Ann

      They never were married…

    • i_amZam

      I disagree, at NO point do i think that a parent should give up on fighting for their child. Should it be a “fight”? absolutely NOT. So many parents walk away from their kids because its simply the easy thing to do. This happens way too often. Where its just easier to walk away and start new somewhere else with someone else..But thats not the answer. I don’t think walking away should be the first option, i feel like once you have acceded your resources and then and only then should you throw in the towel. Proudly too, that you gave it your all. If you didn’t give it your all and your walking away, then your being irrational.

      We should be setting examples to our kids about dealing with situations where it doesn’t work out between 2 people. Instead we are teaching these kids to retaliate.. I refuse to do this. I will be the example, i will set the example. Ill be damned if this cycle continues with my kids.

  • Kenneth Smith

    Is this an attempt at getting the laws changed only in Minnesota or is this something that should go in front of the Supreme Court Justices and be changed for the entire nation?
    And who if anyone determines whether a parent should or should not be evaluated for their mental state of mind?
    Had I known, maybe what to really look for 9+ years ago, I would now have sole instead of primary custody of my daughter, and still not worry about the 1 so-called supervised day of visitation, the mother is allowed per year. As per my attorney’s instructions, I was to extend the visitation privileges, beyond what the court said. Now I seriously even regret having done that. Visitation is not being supervised as per my own instructions, and the mother’s new BF, she met in the unstable environment, (a homeless shelter); is not fit to be around my daughter. So despite how one may think the system works, it is not always in the best interest of the children. In my case, mom got slaps on the wrists for her so called mental issues, and I’m still supposed to comply. What gives with that?
    What gives even with folks in another state getting actual incentives, like tickets to a ball game for closing cases in the department of protective services, exceeding quot for the month, only to have the best interest of the child, turn into a funeral for the child or children?

    • Patricia Ann

      Yep the courts do not want to punish the parent of parenting time even drug addicts get vistation or custody . i feel your pain and i think the custody laws should be consistent all around make it to the supreme court

    • Laws aren’t changed at the Supreme Court. Only Congress has legislative authority .

      • Patricia Ann

        Thank u !! I learn something new today

  • James Lee

    Divorce courts are a mess. The mentally ill parent does not lose custody of a child unless that child is determined to be in “immediate” danger. The fact that the courts chose to move forward with the mother’s frivolous charges is disgraceful, and if a law should be changed, it should be in how the courts address continuous frivolous cases. This story is a pointless tragedy.

  • Gizymo

    I feel Jeffry Sandberg’ statement is attacking his ex. She could no longer speak for herself. It makes me sympathize with the mom. The parents couldn’t get along and the kid was in the crossfire. Because she committed a great sin by ending her son’s life, he attack her mental status. His attacking on his dead ex speaking volume of his uncompassionate person. I found Mr Sandberg version is not believable.

  • SeaMama

    I am thankful every single day that a judge back in 1991 awarded my father full custody of me (at the time a young teenage girl). It takes an incredible willingness to put the best interest of the child first to see past the blind bias courts have towards mothers even when they are abusive. Mothers who are NOT granted custody are also twice as likely to ignore court orders, refuse to pay child support, etc. As a grown woman and now a mother myself I cannot FATHOM putting your own selfish need to win over your child’s life. Categorizing her as mentally ill let’s her off the hook for the years of abuse she inflicted on this father, child and family.

  • Laura

    From the Minnesota Coalition for Family Court Reform:

    An intensified focus on mental health in family court will not increase protection for children.

    Domestic violence cases involving contested custody are systemically mishandled, as profits dictate. Findings and evidence of domestic abuse and domestic abuse by proxy (child abuse) is minimized, ignored, and even falsified.

    Children, mothers, fathers, and the general public are all being hurt because families in need of protection, justice, and rehabilitation are instead forced into a situation where limitless conflict is profitable to the very systems and organizations designed to provide these things.

    ALL gender-related funding pertaining to child custody outcomes must be revoked.

    The family courts need to become publically accountable for keeping children out of harms way. This means: they are not traumatized by sudden custody changes, they remain with their primary caregiver unless there is evidence of child abuse, domestic violence expertise is utilized in court to protect children from trauma and abuse, and discounted theories and practices that expose children to trauma and abuse (ex: alienation theories, reunification “therapies”) are no longer part of training for family court professionals.

    Domestic violence organizations themselves are part of the problem because their funding streams from gender-limited federal funding. It’s gotten to the point where *ending* domestic violence (via divorce and children protected from contact with an abuser) is not profitable for the very industry designed to protect them. A shocking realization for women and children in their time of need.

    Violence is an incorrect moral choice, not a mental illness.

    We need all that we know about domestic violence applied within the conflict-provoking arena of family court.

    ***Domestic violence knowledge and expertise is not utilized in family court****

    That would be a good place to begin making changes in order to protect children and decrease family stress and trauma.

    The courts already focus on mental health testing, using forensic analysis of tests like the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI) and the Millon Clinical Multiaxial Inventory (MCMI).

    Intensified pressure on what is already the focus of parenting evaluations in contested child custody cases will be even more detrimental to children.

    Family courts DO NOT protect children from domestic violence by proxy because they DO NOT utilize domestic violence expertise in making child custody determinations, the very last thing the public would expect in Minnesota.

    The MN appellate court upheld the decision that there was a history of domestic violence in Gina Summer’s marriage.

    We need to alleviate the pressure on families and certainly end protracted child custody litigation for the sake of children. Family courts need to be audited and a system of public accountability must be created. Absolute power corrupts absolutely.

    Advocates and organizations (the Leadership Council on Child Abuse and Interpersonal Violence, for example) have been working for the past several decades to achieve this. The time is now

  • lostinthevalley

    I don’t care if the father was a controlling, abusive narcissist. That has nothing to do with the fact that the mother is a murderer! It is apples to oranges. The little boy may have loved his dad. His dad may have been an absolute monster to his wife. The two situations can exist at the same time. There is nothing that justifies the mother killing the little boy. As the saying goes, “where there is life, there is hope.” If the father had problems he could possibly have been helped with therapy. If the child was suffering psychological effects, ditto. Bottom line: The mother was unfit, unstable, and should never have been within three feet of that kid.