An Arizona mother likely strangled her hospital-bound son before taking her own life with a gun, the Phoenix New Times reports.
Lola “Tami” Griffith is believed to have wrapped medical tubing around the neck of her 5-year-old named Helious as he lay in a Mesa hospital suffering from strep throat. Medical staff found the mother and child dead in the boy’s hospital room at about 2 a.m. Saturday morning. Media reports reveal Helious had an open case with child protective services, while Tami was growing more desperate as key aspects of their lives deteriorated.
Authorities have yet to say definitively what Helious’ cause of death was. The child had been diagnosed with dystonic cerebral palsy at the age of 1. As a result he suffered from muscle spasms that were sometimes painful and had trouble gaining weight. He couldn’t communicate and also suffered from separation anxiety.
According to a YouCaring crowdfunding page Tami set up, Helious had audio, odor and touch sensitivities and became anxious any time Tami was out of his line of site. She set up the page because her car engine had blown and she was seeking donations to buy one for $1,500 on Craigslist.
She was also responsible for caring for her disabled grandparents, and her grandfather is a Vietnam War veteran with multiple needs.
“My grandfather is wheelchair bound, just like my son. He is also a Vietnam Vet with disabilities regarding his sight, memory, hearing as well as suffers from PSTD (the weekly visits with his great grandson helps with his PSTD). He is also on oxygen, which I make sure is filled and working, not counting keeping my grandmothers diabetic medications filled as well. Sadly though, that leads me to our need of help. Our ONLY transportation has blown it’s engine,” she wrote.
The funding page has been updated to cover the final expenses of Tami and Helious.
Tami’s father, Shannon Griffith, told the Arizona Republic that Tami feared she was about to lose custody of Helious to foster care. He believes she stole the gun she used to kill herself from him, after a meeting where officials told her they would be calling the shots in terms of the boy’s care.
‘We’ll make decisions for him now. You could see the devastation on my daughter’s face,” he told the Republic. “There were only two times my daughter’s child was out of her sight. And both were because she had to meet with DCS.”
He said the agency made his daughter feel like a “glorified babysitter waiting for the parents to come home and take their child.”
He also said Helious needed supplements to help him gain weight, but that the family was struggling to pay for them after his insurance company cut payments. Tami and her father, with whom she and Helious lived, dipped into their grocery budget to pay for the supplements.
Mesa police Detective Steven Berry said Tami could have sought out help from the government.
“There’s resources available. If you are in such a situation or such dire straits that you feel you’ve run out of options … tell somebody you’re having those type of issues,” Berry told the Republic. “We’ll find some resources for you; we’ll get you some help.”
But Shannon Griffith pointed out seeking help from the government was not seen as an option by Tami, who was already full of fear that she was losing her son.
“[A]ll of those roads lead back to state custody,” he said.
“I wish she wouldn’t have done this and given me a chance. I wasn’t done fighting yet. I wasn’t done fighting for her or him,” Shannon Griffith told the Republic. “I feel that I failed at protecting them. And I’m sorry.”