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Slain Woman's Mom Takes Child Custody Dispute to California

The mother of a woman who was shot and killed in Chicago Heights in the spring will appear in Orange County, Calif., Family Court on Monday to determine who maintains custody of her daughter’s two young sons.

 

By Adam Townsend, San Clemente Patch Editor

SAN CLEMENTE, CA -- Custody proceedings are moving ahead to determine the fate of two young boys whose father allegedly shot and killed their mother in Chicago Heights this spring.

A hearing is set for Monday afternoon in the Lamoreaux Justice Center in Orange in which Rea and Jason Richmond of San Clemente, CA, are seeking custody of the boys. They are the sister and brother-in-law of George Kleopa, 33, who is currently out on bond on charges of shooting his live-in girlfriend and mother of his sons, Michele Peters, 30, in March.

Peters' parents -- the children's grandparents -- Dave Bird and Catherine Peters have filed similar assertions of custody rights in Cook County family court.

Kleopa and Michele Peters had been a couple for 14 years and had two young sons together. Witnesses reported that on the night of her death they heard the couple arguing about Kleopa seeing another woman, according to statements in court hearings.

Chicago Heights police said that Kleopa changed his story several times of how Peters came be to fatally shot in the face when he was first taken into police custody in March, a Cook County prosecutor told the judge at Kleopa's arraignment.

Kleopa allegedly told police that Peters had shot herself, then said that Peters was bringing him the gun for him to clean and "it went off."

The boys' grandmother, Catherine Peters, flew out for the custody hearing in Orange County on Sunday. The slain woman's mom claims to have had one brief visit with Alex, 18 months, since her daughter's death. The older boy, Georgie, 7, is alleged to have been shipped off to California in the days immediately after the shooting.

Michele Peters' family have been vocal in the news media about their situation. The Richmonds so far have declined requests for comment.

They did not immediately respond to calls this weekend seeking comment on the Monday hearing.

Currently, attorneys in Illinois are preparing for trial; Kleopa has pleaded "not guilty" to the charges.

-- Oak Lawn Patch Editor Lorraine Swanson and Bridgette Outten contributed to this report.

IPFWGK1 October 15, 2012 at 03:07 PM
Isn't this a no-brainer? If I were these boys, the last place I'd like to go was to Daddy's parents house 3 time zones away. But the change in scenery does seem appealing...get away from it all and hopefully start fresh. Hopefully it ends as well as it can considering the circumstances.
Mommy1005 October 15, 2012 at 11:06 PM
It's not even Daddy's parents, it's Daddy's sister, whom from what I've heard, the children rarely if ever seen. Not to mention they whisked away the 7 yr old first with in days of his mothers death and he was not even in attendance to his mother's funeral. Who knows if he has any knowledge of his mother's death. Those children belong with their mother's family. This is such a tragic story, these boys have been through too much already. I hope it ends better, I hope the grandparents get them.
Ann Last October 15, 2012 at 11:29 PM
Let's all say some prayers for the judge to act justly and that this Grandma gets custody .
Bob Oakes October 16, 2012 at 02:37 AM
if you pray for anything, pray both families can work together. The boys need both families. Not one over the other. I know our family is willing to work this out.
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LIZ April 13, 2013 at 11:33 PM
HOW CAN I GET A HOLD OF MRS .CATHERINE PETERS
Bob Oakes April 13, 2013 at 11:48 PM
Liz, please feel free to email me at oakesy573@yahoo.com I will relay the message to my sister (Catherine) for you.

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