A seven-year-old girl who was killed by her violent father in a murder-suicide was struck in the head with a weight and had a note left on her body that said her family got what they deserved.
Kayden Mancuso was found dead by her stepfather in the living room of her father Jeffrey Mancuso’s home in Philadelphia on Monday.
She had a plastic bag tied around her neck after being suffocated.
Her 45-year-old father was found dead in an upstairs bedroom but his cause of death has not been released.
Family told The Philadelphia Inquirer that a medical examiner said Kayden died after being hit in the head with a weight.
Heather Giglio, the girl’s aunt, said Jeffrey Mancuso left a note on Kayden’s body saying the family ‘got what we deserved’.
Jeff Mancuso, 41, suffocated his seven-year-old daughter Kayden with a plastic bag then killed himself at his home in Philadelphia over the weekend while she visited him
Jeffrey Mancuso and the girl’s mother Kathryn had been embroiled in a years-long custody battle. Her mother said Kayden told family members she ‘didn’t feel safe with her dad’, court records show.
Kayden lived with her mother and her stepfather Brian Sherlock, who have been together since 2014, along with her two half-brothers. Her mother was never married to Mancuso and they separated when she was one.
Despite her mother’s repeated attempts to stop him from seeing her and his history of extreme violence, a judge granted him visitation rights in May this year after a lengthy court battle where his history for violence was laid bare.
Jeffrey had a lengthy rap sheet including multiple assault charges and had been diagnosed with a ‘major depressive’ disorder.
Kayden was allowed to visit her father from Saturdays at 10am until Sunday at 6pm as part of the agreement.
On Sunday night, her stepfather became worried when she was not brought home as had been agreed.
The family called police but say they were told there was nothing that could be done because she was with her biological father.
Kayden lived with her mother Kathryn (pictured together center), her stepfather Brian (left) and her half-brothers. Kathryn had been trying to get full custody of her daughter for years but was told by a judge that because Kayden was a happy child, she must agree to visitation
On Monday, after Jeff failed to bring her home, Kayden’s stepfather and her grandfather went to his home in Philadelphia (shown above). They found Kayden dead in the living room and Jeff dead in one of the upstairs bedrooms. It is so far unclear how he took his own life
Brian Sherlock, Kayden’s stepfather, cries outside the home after finding her lifeless body on Monday
On Monday, Kayden’s stepfather went to the home with her grandfather and found her dead inside.
The family is now calling on Judge Jeffrey G. Trauger, who allowed Mancuso visitation rights in May, to resign.
He allowed him to have access to Kayden despite being told about his extremely violent background and diagnosis from a court appointed psychologist.
Past incidents included Mancuso biting people’s ears off during fights and trespassing.
He was charged multiple times over the last 10 years with various levels of assault in addition to facing accusations of harassing and trespassing.
In May, Judge Jeffrey G. Trauger granted Mancuso visitation rights because he said Kayden was a ‘happy child’
Mancuso, who ran a construction recruitment business out of New Jersey, once told a court psychologist when describing one of his fights: ‘I beat him up, he put me in a headlock, and I bit down on his ear and took off the top part of his ear,’ according to court documents obtained by DailyMail.com.
On other occasions, he was seen by Kayden punching his dog and then himself in the face.
The psychologist diagnosed him with major depressive disorder, moderate with anxious disorder and identified narcissistic and antisocial personality traits.
They said was suicidal and and experienced feelings of ‘hopelessness’.
Kayden’s mother, who also underwent a psychiatric evaluation as part of the custody proceedings, was found not to have any ailments.
During the custody proceedings, the court was also told how he had been banned from his daughter’s school because he had been so aggressive in his correspondence with teachers.
Other parents had remarked on how he belittled the teachers and left threatening comments on an online forum.
In his decision, Judge Trauger said he had ‘serious concerns’ about Muscano’s ability to control his behavior but he allowed him visitation rights anyway.
Even though Kayden had told a custody evaluator that she wanted to ‘not spend as many days with dad’, the judge said she had no strong dislike of him, was not scared of him and since she wasn’t being physically abused by him at the time, should be allowed to carry on seeing him.
Kathryn (seen with Kayden on her wedding to her stepfather, left, in 2016) had been trying for years to get full custody of her. She feared her ex would harm Kayden but was forced to allow him to spend time with her because of the court’s decision, her sister said
Kayden is pictured with her stepfather and half-brother. Her family described her as an ‘angel’
‘Kayden presents as a happy kid with a generally normal relationship with both parents despite the volatile relationship they have with each other,’ he said in his ruling, citing the findings of a custody evaluator.
Kayden had watched him not only fight with the family’s dog but hit her grandmother and punch himself in the face.
Instead of keeping her from him, the judge ruled: ‘The court nonetheless encourages father to focus on spending quality time with child but warns father that his way of handling third party conflicts is very troubling.’
Kayden’s family now says they always feared he would harm her but prayed it would never be so extreme.
‘We knew this was gonna happen one day, we just prayed it wouldn’t.’
‘The system failed us. My sister fought for her custody for years and they didn’t listen to us. They let him take her and now she’s gone,’ her aunt Heather Giglio said.
She told DailyMail.com that Mancuso was a ‘monster’ who her sister had been trying to avoid since they parted ways.
‘He had restraining orders against him from our entire family, yet a little girl was allowed in his care,’ she said.
‘The entire system failed her! They failed our beautiful baby girl.
‘They failed my sister, they failed my family and they failed a community,’ she added.
Jennifer Sherlock, Kayden’s stepfather’s sister, told DailyMail.com there were ‘red flags’ which should have prevented him from having access to her.
The girl’s godfather Matthew Moffett added: ‘This judge should have never allowed Kayden to be with him.
‘Kathy fought tooth and nail until she was in debt for that baby’s rights and she was denied safety.
‘This should have been prevented.’
The family is now raising money through a GoFundMe page to pay Kayden’s funeral expenses.
Kayden, pictured center right, was living happily with her mother, her new husband, her half-brother and her half-brother. Friends say she was failed by the courts system