On the Run

"My custody battle started two years ago when my son-in-law, Chris, killed my daughter," says Jan. "May 13th we received a phone call. It was a detective. In my heart, I knew. I knew that he had killed her." Jan went over to Chris and Sheri's apartment. "Chris killed her when my grandson was in his crib right next door. I saw my little grandson and Chris was standing behind him, and I said, ‘You will never see this little boy again.' Cameron has been in my custody ever since.

"Chris ended up pleading no contest to involuntary manslaughter. He got out after only serving 10 months in jail. I was so afraid for my life and for Cameron's well-being, that I put everything I could in a truck and I headed out of town to start a new life."

Jan and her grandson left New Mexico and have been in hiding for almost a year. "In my new life, my past is a secret. It's difficult. I'm always looking over my shoulder, worried Chris may be behind me. I live in terror that this man who killed my daughter is out walking the streets," she says. 

 

Now that Chris is out of jail, he is seeking custody of his son, which terrifies Jan. "The New Mexico court is actually considering giving this little boy back to his father," she says. "Chris could not be a good parent because he's an alcoholic and he is very abusive. I will do everything in my power to keep Cameron with me and [will] not give him back to that man."

 

The death of her daughter and the resulting custody battle has impacted her marriage. She is now divorced. "I was told by my husband that I needed to get over this and move on. His words were, ‘You can't cry over spilled milk.' Some of the members of my family said I was crazy and I needed to snap out of it," she says. 

 

Because Jan fears for her safety, security has been provided to her at all times while she's a part of the Dr. Phil show. She is escorted out on stage.

"How did your daughter wind up dead?" Dr. Phil asks.

"They got into a violent fight. He ended up ripping the phone off of the wall and crushing her head," Jan says. 

Chris, who's listening from backstage, shakes his head no.

 

"The police did come, but they seemed to think that she wasn't really that hurt and they let him go, even though he was very drunk â€" they'd both been drinking. They found her body that same morning," she says. Baby Cameron, 22 months old at the time, was in his crib.

"Now he claims this was an accident, right? And you don't believe that?" Dr. Phil asks.

"No, because of the shape the phone was in. I saw the phone. No one could make this an accident. The corner of the phone was cracked and the handset was broken in half. So he used so much force to crush her skull when he hit her on the side of the head, there's no way it could've been an accident," Jan says.

"Why do you think he wants custody of this boy? What's your opinion?" asks Dr. Phil.

"There's a life insurance policy," she says. "It was on my daughter, and he's not able to get that now because of the plea. I think it has to do with some kind of money. It has got to, because he was never in Cameron's life before, ever. He always claimed he wasn't even his son."

Backstage, Chris says, "I can't believe she said that. I'm going to get my son back."