My name is Stephanie Johnson. I've been fighting for custody of my murdered daughter's son for the past five years. Since the murder, which involved domestic violence, my grandson has been in the custody of the killer and the killer's father.
I know it sounds unbelievable, but it's true. You can read more about my plight in the March edition
of the Texas Observer. For more information about the court battle, click here
. To see all media accounts dating back to Anne-Christine's murder on Dec. 8, 2016, visit Anne-Christine Johnson's website
Eleven-year-old "R" was five when he saw his mother, my daughter Anne-Christine Johnson, 30, brutally slaughtered by her ex-husband Shaun Hardy in a house owned by Shaun's father, prominent League City businessman Barry Hardy.
Anne-Christine's body moldered in Barry's garage for three weeks while Shaun's lawyer kept police at bay. The smell of decomposition overwhelmed the League City police officers, who finally found her three weeks later while executing a search warrant for her cellphone on Dec. 30, 2016. R was running around the house, screaming.
But that wasn't the end of it. While I was visiting cemeteries, looking for a place to bury Anne-Christine in January 2017, Barry was in Galveston County Court at Law No. 2, convincing Judge Roberts (now retired) to use a questionable divorce decree to cut the entire Johnson family (including R's eight-year-old half brother) out of R's life. We were not informed of the hearing or the judge's ruling -- we only learned of it after filing for joint-managing conservatorship in March 2017 when Barry stopped returning emails and phone calls.
Since then, I've fought tooth-and-nail in family court for the right to have unfettered access to my grandson. But after more than five years of hearings and mediations -- and a successful appeal for grandparents' rights at the appellate level -- I've exhausted all of my financial resources. I need help with legal expenses. I do not ask this lightly. If you can contribute, all funds raised will be used very judiciously to pay legal expenses, which continue to mount.
A jury trial is scheduled for July 18. We are asking for full custody or joint-managing conservatorship of R. I face another hearing on May 5 as I seek emergency joint-managing conservatorship that would enable me to get R into desperately needed trauma therapy. Barry, upset about recent media coverage in the Texas Observer and Houston Chronicle, has asked the court to "gag" me and seal records. This may be the last time I can speak to anyone -- including friends and family -- about my situation for several months or even years.
It's a long, complicated saga but hardly surprising if you understand the dynamics of domestic abuse or the family court system. Google "Galveston County Family Court Records" and search for Stephanie Johnson or Barry Hardy. You can also search for this: 14-FD-2773| In the Matter of the Marriage of: Shaun Philip Hardy and Anne-Christine Johnson.
The docket speaks for itself.
Anne-Christine gave her life to save R. Please honor her sacrifice. She was leaving Shaun Hardy when he lied and said he had cancer. "R needs me, Mom," she said. Two months later, she was dead.
After her murder, a good friend of hers shared this text with me. Anne-Christine wrote, "When I'm done with this and have money, I hope I can help other women."
We need your help, now.
Image: Anne-Christine Johnson with sons "R" and "J" in 2013.