Remember Amy Leichtenberg?

By:  Diane Benjamin

I know you will when I tell you she is the mom of Duncan and Jack Leichtenberg, murdered by their father before he hung himself.

Amy and I talked Thursday about Duncan and Jack and how the McLean County court system failed them.  The State of Illinois also failed when they pulled funding from Children’s Home and Aid.  They supervised visitations when a court found it necessary.

Nobody listened.  Amy played by the rules and did everything right.  The judge, James Souk, ignored her when she told him her ex was suicidal.  Souk was in a big hurry to unify the family while ignoring her pleas.  Since Children’s Home and Aid didn’t have the money to supervise visits, he authorized unsupervised visitation.  Amy lost her two precious boys because of that decision.

Amy wonders if judges would exposed their own kids to similar circumstances or if the letter of the law is all that matters.

The problem Amy sees is that nobody in the court system is protecting the rights of the kids.  Unification isn’t the answer to every custody case, the courts are the only protection children have.  She feels justice for kids doesn’t exist when only the letter of law is followed.  The courts failed her children and continue to repeat the same mistake.

According to this report, 636 kids have been murdered by a parent since 2008 in situations similar to Amy’s:

Click the link, Duncan and Jack are pictured.  Quote:  The safety and well-being of children should always be the first priority in custody and visitation cases.

In McLean County it isn’t.

Every April Amy holds a 5K fundraiser for Children’s Home and Aid.  She hopes no other family has to endure what she has.  Amy needs to make sure Duncan and Jack are never forgotten.  She will send details to me when next year’s event is planned.




14 thoughts on “Remember Amy Leichtenberg?

  1. One of the local judges has 6 kids. His last decision was to dismiss attempted murder on the Powell case. The guy shot the husband and put the wife in the trunk. Sure seemed like attempted murder. I guess we’ll see going forward.

  2. I am hoping another article like this never has to be written and I sympathize with this mother. McLean County is once again in danger of making this same mistake and it CAN be prevented. If the McLean judicial system would take the time and consider ALL of the pertinent evidence, which it still has NOT done, and not rush the reunification process to the point of re-traumatizing the child in question, they will see that the child is currently in a safe and loving environment free from abuse and fear where he should remain. However, the Court has said that – the best interest of this child is NOT their concern – WHAT?!? Isn’t that your job? It should be, if you want to avoid another case such as this. I pray God will lead the way and assist the authorities is making the right decision.

  3. The problem often starts with the pushing for “Family reunification”. SOME families, do NOT need to be unified, and sometimes kids are FAR better off without one biological parent or another in their lives in any way. I get extremely disgusted when I hear the “”Well, now, he IS their father” or “Well now she IS their mother”crap being spoken when anyone with half a brain KNOWS that that person should not have ANYTHING to do the kids, EVER. Simply being a biological parent should not give license to access unless that person is a decent human being and can be TRUSTED to be around defenseless children, and sadly, some simply can not.. I truly feel for Amy and for any other parent who has lost a child due to abuse or outright MURDER by the other parent because the courts would not LISTEN to those who KNOW and keep that child safely AWAY from that parent.

  4. 1) She should testify at the next Mikey hearing.

    2) As best I can tell, the judge(s) in question are NOT ‘following the letter of the law’, they are VIOLATING the law:
    *** 750 ILCS 5/102 – Purposes; Rules of Construction. This Act shall be liberally construed and applied to promote its underlying purposes, which are to:
    (4) mitigate the potential harm to spouses and their children caused by the process of an action brought under this Act, and protect children from exposure to conflict and violence;
    (7) acknowledge that the determination of children’s best interests, and the allocation of parenting time and significant decision-making responsibilities, are among the paramount responsibilities of our system of justice, and to that end:
    (B) recognize that, in the absence of domestic violence or any other factor that the court expressly finds to be relevant, proximity to, and frequent contact with, both parents promotes healthy development of children;
    *** 750 ILCS 60/101 – Purposes; rules of construction. This Act shall be liberally construed and applied to promote its underlying purposes, which are to:
    (1) Recognize domestic violence as a serious crime against the individual and society which produces family disharmony in thousands of Illinois families, promotes a pattern of escalating violence which frequently culminates in intra-family homicide, and creates an emotional atmosphere that is not conducive to healthy childhood development;
    (3) Recognize that the legal system has ineffectively dealt with family violence in the past, allowing abusers to escape effective prosecution or financial liability, and has not adequately acknowledged the criminal nature of domestic violence; that, although many laws have changed, in practice there is still widespread failure to appropriately protect and assist victims;
    (4) Support the efforts of victims of domestic violence to avoid further abuse by promptly entering and diligently enforcing court orders which prohibit abuse and, when necessary, reduce the abuser’s access to the victim and address any related issues of child custody and economic support, so that victims are not trapped in abusive situations by fear of retaliation, loss of a child, financial dependence, or loss of accessible housing or services;
    (6) Expand the civil and criminal remedies for victims of domestic violence; including, when necessary, the remedies which effect physical separation of the parties to prevent further abuse.
    *** 750 ILCS 60/103 [provides definitions of domestic abuse which includes harming and neglecting the child as described in previous postings on this website – VCC]
    *** 750 ILCS 602.5 and 6.2.7 [provide guidance for allocating parental authority and parental visiting time. granted, we have been given primarily one side of the argument here, but it sounds like the court is disregarding the statutory guidelines in favor of personal or political considerations. – VCC]
    *** 750 ILCS 5/610.5 (c) Except in a case concerning the modification of any restriction of parental responsibilities under Section 603.10, the court shall modify a parenting plan or allocation judgment when necessary to serve the child’s best interests if the court finds, by a preponderance of the evidence, that on the basis of facts that have arisen since the entry of the existing parenting plan or allocation judgment or were not anticipated therein, a substantial change has occurred in the circumstances of the child or of either parent and that a modification is necessary to serve the child’s best interests.

  5. In what universe does a parent get to flee a jurisdiction, refuse to appear in court and get away with that behavior? Nowhere. If this was the mother in question who was doing this you’d be livid. In both civil and criminal cases arrest warrants are issued. Hiding behind charges of corruption doesn’t cut it.

    Your charges about Children’s Home Aid are really disingenuous. On this blog the constant beat of cutting everything under the sun because smaller government is best is your mantra. You suddenly want big government when it suits your purpose. Make up your mind.

    McLean county or the state of Illinois are not the only locations that have to deal with child abuse and sad custody cases. There are sad cases all over the world.

    There are two sides to every custody case. If Michael is really concerned about his child he show up work out the custody of his child with the court and the mother.

    1. There seems to be a misconception that Michael just fled jurisdiction with malicious intent. In fact, several months prior to gaining full sole and legal custody Michael had been alerting his attorney that his son’s maternal grandfather had been threatening physical harm or financial and reputable ruin. There are screenshots of these emails and text from the maternal grandfather. In one specific email, the maternal grandfather tries to solicit Michael Cadena into staying in a relationship with the child’s mother. He goes on to ask that Michael stop the custody battle or involvement with DCFS so they could privately work out the matter. He threatens that if Michael refuses, he would request help from his brother-in-law, a federal judge who “has much power”, insinuating this would influence the custody case. After gaining full custody, Michael asked his attorney and Baby Fold if it was allowable for him to move back to Massachusetts as he was fearful for his and his son’s safety. He also had a large support network back east. The only advise his attorney gave was to wait 30 days. He followed up to make sure, she told him she would check but never did. He sent follow up emails and several texts to check. She said nothing. Another representative from the firm wished him on his way as did the Baby Fold worker. It wasn’t until he moved that he was told he may have violated the law. All of this can be backed up by correspondence copies. He did go to Illinois in November of 2017 to explain this to the judge and present witnesses to verify his claims. He also flew out specialists treating his son for the trauma he ensured while in the mother’s care to testify that relocating the child at such a crucial stage would be destabilizing and retraumatizing to the boy. Judge Hill decided to deny this testimony at the evidentiary hearing. He requested an emergency jurisdiction change in Massachusetts because returning the child Illinois would only put him at risk given previous abuse and neglect. Much of this evidence has not been discussed but it will all come out in the Massachusetts hearing. All of it. Michael has been told he will be given a fair trial there on August 31st. People are making assumptions about Michael Cadena without having all the fact. Once the full story is out, people will see why he is fighting so hard to keep his son safe in Massachusetts.

  6. Infiniti it seems is very obedient to “law” you know that thing that in a pound of such there is not an ounce of compassion? If all Infiniti can glean from all of the information that has been presented is “he fled jurisdiction” I find that infinitely sad.

    1. Also not understood is setting priorities. In Illinois it’s paying for abortions, medical care for illegals, and government pensions that can never have enough money. Protecting American kids is a low priority..

      1. Agreed, priorities ARE a bit skewed, and let’s not forget automatic “COL” raises with precise regularity for all Govt. employees, that WE pay for, since the Govt produces nothing and generates no actual income of it’s own, only what they demand from taxes and fees and the like. Now watch someone ask if I don’t want police and firemen…

  7. I thought we were talking about the custody of a child. Where does abortions and illegal immigrants come in? They don’t. I also thought that everyone here was for “law and order”, at least that’s what you claim. I guess it’s only law and order when it’s convenient to you.

    If you ignore a court summons in a criminal case, arrest warrant is issued. If you ignore court summons in a civil court you forfeit the case. No matter what judges are not amused by plaintiffs that choose not to show up no matter what the reason. It has nothing to do with compassion or anything else. It has to do with the law.

    I find it hard to believe that the state of Illinois is supposedly so corrupt that Michael Cardina can’t even show up in court. I smell baloney. As I stated, if the mother was pulled this, everyone would go ballistic . If Mr. Cardina has compelling evidence then come to Illinois court and present such evidence. He is hiding with this evidence in another state as to escape any negative blowback from not bothering to show up in court like he Legally compelled to do so under the law.

    1. Infiniti, I think what you are failing to address is that he had already petitioned Massachusetts to have a change of jurisdiction because he had already been deemed a resident given the time away from Illinois. It was pending while Judge Hill continued the case even though hearings are to be stalled in these circumstances until jurisdiction is decided. The only reason she found him in contempt is because she continued to schedule hearings when she knew Massachusetts was still deciding whether or not to intervene and she chose to ignore that. Additionally, the only reason he was denied his 1st attempt in Massachusetts was because Judge Casey cited incorrect facts stated in Judge Hill’s conclusion at the 11.14.17 hearing. Judge Hill also sent him a letter directly listing additional incorrect facts while encouraging him to keep jurisdiction in Illinois. Judge Casey realized his mistake on 6.20.18, hence, why he granted the emergency stay. That is also why Massachusetts granted Mike Cadena and evidentiary hearing on 8.31.18 because they do not believe he was given due process for a fair hearing. Thus, why they are now giving him one.

  8. The child sounds safe in Mass. If the father and son come back for a hearing it is within the realm of possibility that a report to dcfs would be called in and the child may be deemed at risk of harm by the agency until the allegations are completed. They have 60 days to complete the report. The child could be placed in a foster home or with relatives. This most likely would not be in the childs best interest if he has suffered trauma in the past. Then a shelter care hearing could be held and then there would be a series of hearing every 30 days and the child would suffer. I had trust in the McLean county court in the past, less now from what appears to be going on. Assign a CASA. What does the kids GAL recommend? If I were dad, I’d stay in Mass!

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