Deadly Divorces: Bonnie Hoult, Bruce Pardo, and Many More

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January 7th, 2010 Leave a comment Go to comments
Elizabeth Hoult Fontaine
Elizabeth Hoult

With the December 14, 2009 murder/suicide by sociopathic grandmother Bonnie Hoult and the December 24, 2008 murders by “shooting Santa” Bruce Pardo, one might wonder if holiday season is time for family murder sprees sponsored by California family law judges. Bonnie Hoult murdered her two grandkids, Catherine and Julia Fontaine, shortly before killing her daughter Elizabeth Fontaine and then fatally turning the gun on herself. Bruce Pardo shot into and burned down a home, killing his ex-wife Sylvia Pardo and 8 members of her family. Hours later he killed himself after being severely injured during his attack.

Recently I ran across an article by Lary Holland about family law conflicts, murders, and suicides that makes it clear that child custody and divorce related conflicts are involved in a substantial number of murders and suicides year round. America’s broken family courts and mental health care systems are causing the deaths of a large number of people via injustice and inadequate treatment driving them to commit shocking crimes. Lary updates the article periodically with news about more family court related murders, his latest updated being December 15, 2009, the day after Bonnie Hoult’s crimes. He’s listed about three dozen widely publicized murder and/or suicide cases involving divorces and child custody battles in the last two years.

(from Family Court is a Deadly Business (Updated 12-15-2009))

The Family Court System has its’ fair share of problems, but one of those problems that has not had a very thorough review is that it is an ever-increasing “Deadly Business.” In fact, I didn’t even start thinking about the effects of our country’s public policies regarding single-parent custody awards and “unilateral divorce” until my recent involvement and trip in Frederick, Maryland. For the most part, I only looked at the effects inside the courtroom specifically, not outside.

There should be substantial concern over the instant murder-suicides, premeditated murders, attempted murders, murders-for-hire, and drastic number of suicides that are occurring in families that are involved with domestic relation suits or family courts around the nation.

Family Law Courts Increase Deadly Conflicts

Family law courts intensify conflict. They set up unrealistic, unfair, and harmful situations that greatly aggravate hostility, anxiety, and depression. They also fail to adequately handle mental health problems in family members at the same time they put them under a great deal more stress. Sociopaths and even people without a past history of violence can become murderers in the process. “Good people” just off themselves, being unable to cope with the misery and hopelessness.

Perhaps one of the scorecards that should be used for family law judges is how many suicides and murders result each year from how they handled cases before them. Some estimates are that over 30,000 Americans kill themselves each year during or shortly after divorces and child custody battles. Suicide rates for men related to family law actions are typically several times higher than for women. Saddled with massive child support and spousal support payments, bankrupted by court expenses, and depressed from all that multiplied from being unable to see their children for more than a few hours per week and in some cases not at all, many fathers simply can’t bear to live any longer. But murders and suicides are not limited to men, as the Bonnie Hoult / Elizabeth Fontaine pact to kill the kids and themselves shows. By making a parent feel hopeless and unfairly treated and failing to put real therapeutic and protective measures in place, parents are pushed into committing heinous crimes.

What is perhaps surprising is that more of these victimized parents don’t choose to kill perpetrators of the abuses against them but instead kill themselves to end the agonizing pain. Family law judges, ex-spouses and their family members, CPS social workers, and many others who mishandle child custody and divorce battles seem like they would be targets for vengeance, yet suicides are seemingly far more common. Would these “professionals” be so quick to abuse parents and children if they were to be more frequently killed in retaliation for their crimes?

Bonnie Hoult Massacre on December 14, 2009 in San Clemente, California

Bonnie Hoult and daughter Elizabeth Fontaine were enmeshed since Elizabeth’s childhood in a narcissistic and abusive relationship. When Jason Fontaine married Elizabeth, he probably wasn’t expecting to get a sociopathic mother-in-law disguised as a psychologist. He may not have known about the alleged history of sexual abuse and/or parental alienation in the family, either. Like his father-in-law Charles Hoult, Jason Fontaine was targeted for child sexual abuse allegations and parental alienation. Unlike him, however, he now has to deal with the deals of his two daughters at the hands of their mentally ill mother and grandmother.

Bruce Pardo Massacre on December 24, 2008 in Covina, California

Bruce Pardo was recently divorced prior to his murderous rampage. While there were no children involved in the marriage, he was apparently severely aggravated after about 70% of his income had been taken for spousal support and he lost his job.

While Bonnie Hoult was clearly a troubled woman going back decades, Bruce Pardo apparently wasn’t regarded as such. Former girlfriend Carol Sanchez reported she couldn’t imagine Pardo ever doing anything like this. Members of his church had similar opinions.

(from Ninth Body Found in Christmas Eve Massacre)

Pardo, who had no criminal record or history of violence, is believed to have been going through “marital problems,” Buchanan said. Of the couple’s split, Buchanan said, “It was not an amicable divorce.”

Pardo had been scheduled to serve as an usher for the midnight mass at the Holy Redeemer Church on Christmas. The chief usher, Jan Detanna, told the Los Angeles Times, “This is shocking. … He was the nicest guy you could imagine. Always a pleasure to talk to, always a big smile.”

Deadly Results from Making Stressed, Depressed Feel Unfairly Treated

The United States isn’t the only country with bad results from ruinous family law courts. Israel, Canada, and many other Western nations have similarly corrupt and abusive family law courts that intensify conflict and paint parents into corners from which they believe there is no way out short of death as discussed in the following excerpt.

(from Fathers Commit Suicide Protesting Discrimination In Israel Child Custody Laws)

So given the frequency and gravity of the problem, it is not surprising that numerous anecdotes have appeared in the popular press detailing non-custodial fathers who have resorted to killing themselves. One very cruel irony – over the past 20 years, society has admonished fathers to become more attentive to their families. As more wives entered the workforce, this relieved some of the financial pressure on men, and has allowed fathers to devote more time to their children. And during that same period of time, a series of laws have been enacted that have enabled wives to obtain court orders to exclude fathers from the household, in the name of preventing domestic violence.

Once a precedent of paternal separation has been established, child custody is almost always awarded to the mother. Hence, these domestic violence edicts have made it more difficult for fathers to maintain meaningful involvement with their children. In some cases, their own children have come to view their loving fathers with suspicion and distrust.

So noncustodial fathers have become increasingly frustrated and angered by the mixed messages that they are receiving. They find it incomprehensible that their basic human right to be a parent is being curtailed by a legal system that they perceive to be expensive, cloaked in secrecy, and unfair. Is it any wonder that some fathers crack under the pressure?

On Thursday, January 23, 2003, a BC father, Mark Edward Dexel, 42, took the only exit fathers are left with when dealing with the most corrupt justice system ever known in the history of Canada, he committed suicide. This latest tragedy has shocked many non-custodial parents among the local support group Parents of Broken Families and other non-custodial parents groups across the nation. It was a grim reminder of the same tragedy that led Darren White, another member a similar group, to take his own life back in early 2000.

Miller is one of 300,000 Americans who have taken their own lives over the past decade – as many Americans as were killed in combat in World War II. America, the UK and Israel are in the throes of a largely unrecognized suicide epidemic, as suicide has become the eighth leading cause of death in the United States today, and the third leading cause of death among adolescents.

Many recognize that the US is rife with violent crime, but few know that 50% more Americans kill themselves than are murdered. Who is committing suicide? For the most part, men. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, males commit suicide four times as often as females do, and have higher suicide rates in every age group. There are many risk factors for suicide, including substance abuse and mental illness, but the two situations in which men are most likely to kill themselves are after the loss of a job, and after a divorce.

While the quote covers fathers, mothers are no different as the Bonnie Hoult / Elizabeth Fontaine child custody murders show. When a parent feels treated unfairly, hopeless, and depressed, murder and suicide are likely outcomes regardless of the parent’s gender.

Unfortunately, sexist writers such as Susan Murphy Milano are trying to spin all family conflict murders as somehow being caused by men. Even in her article Tragedy in San Clemente: Who Was The Shooter?, she’s trying to spin that the deaths are somehow primarily the fault of men. It appears that far too many people cannot get away from their gender hatred and stereotypes and see that the problems are being made worse by bad laws, bad courts, and bad mental health care. Sadly, it may take many more child custody murders by women like the Fontaine case to widely change these misperceptions.

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Further Reading

Jason Fontaine Speaks Up About Child Custody Murders

Killer Bonnie Hoult Made False Abuse Allegations Against Ex

Family Court is a Deadly Business (Updated 12-15-2009)

Bruce Pardo Dressed As Santa Kills 9 People (Photos)

Ninth Body Found in Christmas Eve Massacre

Marriage splintered over man’s stunning revelation

Fathers Commit Suicide Protesting Discrimination In Israel Child Custody Laws

Canada Suicides

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  1. January 8th, 2010 at 09:21 | #1

    I really appreciate you covering this topic, as I can hardly keep up with the numbers. I first became aware of it in a Maryland Community and started monitoring it via the web. The problem is that many newspapers might not state child custody or divorce as the motive in the crime, even though it was the result. I am positive if we make more of the correlations between adversary divorce w/ negative outcomes compared to a healthier divorce w/ positive outcomes we will be getting somewhere more quickly.

    Here are the figures that you can use regarding the commercial aspects of the various divorces: “Hugh McIsaac, a retired director of Family Court Services in Los Angeles and Portland, Ore., advises divorce attorneys to represent their clients’ long-term interests, not their short-term anger. The average cost of a mediated divorce is less than $7,000 and of a collaborative divorce less than $20,000. This compares with nearly $27,000 for a divorce negotiated by rival lawyers and about $78,000 for a fully litigated divorce.”

    The money makes sense and the outcomes make sense. This is now a consumer education/awareness campaign to reverse the damage that the family courts are already doing to the next generation at the behest of their conflicting parents.

    Lary Holland

  2. G MacDonald Vogt
    February 24th, 2010 at 17:15 | #2

    Rob, I appreciate the time you took to research your article. I knew Bonnie Hoult and, oddly, I, too, was a victim of Commissioner Schulte.

    I knew Bonnie before she moved to Orange County from the Valley, and saw her one time before she moved to Texas. The Bonnie Hoult I knew was a grounded woman who was devoted to her children. While one does not know what goes on behind the doors of a home, Bonnie’s public personna was that of a normal, rational woman. This is not only my opinion, but would be the opinion of the large church she and I shared. The women in the women’s group who knew Bonnie would also agree with my assessment. However, something must have gone seriously wrong for this tragedy to happen.

    How did these women become so desperate? I point the finger directly at Commissioner Schulte.

    As I said, I was before him for a divorce; I was married 6 months, had no children nor community property. However, for the next 7 years I was before Commissioner Schulte — who was trying to take everything I had worked for away from me. Finally, I petitioned to have Thomas Schulte removed from the case based on bias and prejudice..the allegations were backed up by the commissioner’s own statements in court.

    The day commissioner Schulte stepped down he said in court that he TOTALLY TRUSTED, BELIEVED AND RESPECTED everything my estranged husband’s attorney presented. He further stated that he had known Al Graham, Esq. for years and Al was the first attorney to hire him as a law clerk after commissioner Schulte got out of law school. Further, commissioner Schulte spent time with Al over the years both in court as well as in Al’s home. Commissioner Schulte turned to Al Graham and said, “We are going to have to watch what we say from now on.” Clearly, the commisisoner was prejudiced and biased.

    Al Graham ran up $80,000 in divorce fees and asked Commissioner Schulte to order me to pay my former husband’s legal bill (but the request was not based on merit). After I filed papers to have Commissioner Schulte reconsider his ruling, Thomas Schulte grudgingly changed his ruling. He forced Al Graham to present his arguments why I should pay my former husband’s legal fees. We were back in court for another year before I had enough evidence to petition the commissionner to step down.

    Santa Anna is an old-boy’s network; it is who you know and how they are connected with the court that gets your case through the court. I wonder how the husband’s attorney is associated with Thomas Schulte. The old boy’s network was clearly the situation in my case.

    As for me, the 7 years this LA County resident spent before commissioner Schulte were extraordinarily trying. I was a victim of domestic violence and commissioner Schulte enabled the violence to continue by proxie. As to attaching my assets to pay for Al Graham’s fees, Al Graham said to the commissioner, “We can’t find any assets, but she has a house. We can get that.” This was had been my home 23 years before I married my former husband and I never comingled finances — it was not community assets.

    After the commissioner stepped down, the presiding judge (a woman) heard the case, ruled against Al Graham’s allegations that it was my actions that caused the case to be in court for 7 years. She ruled that it was Al Graham’s actions not mine.

    I can understand Bonnie Hoult and her daughter’s feeling of inadequacy and panic when they faced commissioner Schulte. If one looks at the numerous file boxes containing the files of my case (Vogt v. Vogt case filed O.C. family law court in 1998) one can see how corrupt commissioner Schulte is.

    There is no excuse for the tragedy at Bonnie’s hands but given the past actions of commissioner Schulte, someone must investigate this man. I hold commissioner Schulte totally responsible for the psychological panic Bonnie and her daughter found themselves (I can testify that Thomas Schulte made my life a living hell and it was without merit).

    Had commissioner Thomas Schulte followed the rules of law instead of making the issues before him his own ‘personal vendetta’, the tragedy may not have happened.

    Thomas Schulte uses his courtroom as his personal venue — whether or not his beliefs or actions follow the law. This man should be investigated for misconduct. Feel free to contact me about my horrendous experience at the hands of Thomas Schulte, commissioner at the family court in Orange County.

  3. Veronica West
    June 4th, 2010 at 01:22 | #3

    Please contact me via email regarding Commissioner Schulte. I have been in his court since 1998 and have been a victim of his intolerance for women from the beginning. He has dragged out a court case that has cost me a small fortune and has never followed through with child support. He finally admitted in court that my ex is a drug addict, alcoholic and has never been a father. This is after 11 1/2 years of court for nothing! Right after that comment, Schulte told him that the only way to “make him a man” was for Schulte to indeed “Make him a man” and gave him full “temp” (as is always Schulte’s excuse) custody of my daughter with whom he had never had a relationship her entire life. He needs to be investigated and thrown off the bench. We have written to Senator Boxer who said she would investigate if I signed a release of privacy. Judge Naughton who heads Family Court was my ex’s first atty. by the way. My ex’s new atty is Schulte’s best friend. Schulte refused to read Psych reports, dr’s reports or hear any witnesses on my behalf. He stated that sometimes mother’s just need to be out of their childrens lives for usual a year and the child will come around and start a relationship with dad. I have watched him do this to woman after woman in his court and prayed I would never be in that position. He is a deadly judge with a personal vendetta against women.

  4. GMRHMB40
    December 1st, 2010 at 18:40 | #4

    I was a special ed teacher who had to work with Bonnie for three years and she made my life a miserable living hell everytime she was on campus. Woman who clearly had issues. The worst of it at work however is the fact that there were other higher ups who took her words like if she was God. Now they know what her troubles were and I am just disgusted to see what horror Bonnie caused for her two granddaughters.

  5. McKinly
    February 18th, 2014 at 00:21 | #5

    Sometimes the family courts can be very helpful. If you learn how to work the system, you can use them to hurt the other parent pretty bad. I spent thousands of dollars fighting my ex in court but it was worth it because I won. Now she doesn’t see our kid at all. I’m happy about that.

  6. Seth
    October 13th, 2014 at 22:30 | #6

    How do I get a hold of Veronica West or G McDonald Vogt..all too familiar.

  1. January 11th, 2010 at 17:39 | #1

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