PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A tragic discovery was made inside a Manayunk home on Monday morning. Philadelphia police say a 41-year-old father and his 7-year-old daughter are dead in an apparent murder-suicide amid a “contentious custody battle.”
The girl has been identified as 7-year-old Kayden Mancuso, who was entering the second grade at Edgewood Elementary School. The Pennsbury School District released a message to parents following her death.
“It is with a heavy heart that I reach out this afternoon to inform you of a tragedy within our community. One of our students entering 2nd grade, Kayden Mancuso, lost her life yesterday afternoon. We send our deepest condolences to the family,” the district said in a letter, adding they are providing counseling services to students and families.
“Terribly tragic situation. It shook some very experienced and long-tenured police commanders,” said Philadelphia Police Capt. John Ryan.
“She was the kindest, sweetest, loudest little girl you’ll ever meet,” said Kayden’s aunt, Heather Giglio. “She was the light in our family and now, he took that from us.”
Ryan says family members dropped the girl off at her father’s home on the 4500 block of Wilde Street on Saturday morning. When she didn’t return as scheduled on Sunday night, her family grew concerned about her safety.
“The family themselves made entry and found the scene,” said Ryan.
Police say the girl’s stepfather found her body with a bag over her head in the living room around 11 a.m. The girl’s 41-year-old father, Jeffrey Mancuso, was also found dead in a second-floor bedroom from an apparent suicide.
Authorities confirm they did find a note, though the contents are not being released publicly.
Kayden’s aunts say her mother had a restraining order on him and fought to keep her father away from Kayden.
“As far as red flags go, you wouldn’t find a guy with more red flags,” said another family member, Kerrin Paul.
“The therapist suggested he needed to seek help and the judge still let her go with him,” Giglio said. “He threatened to kill all of us. But that wasn’t enough, we had to wait for actions. We had to wait for him to actually kill her, for something to be heard and now what, what can we do? We don’t get her back,” said Giglio.
Chief Inspector James Kelly says he sees many tragedies, but this is one of the worst.
“It’s as bad as I’ve ever experienced,” said Kelly. “For any parent, it’s their worst nightmare. It’s a horrific tragedy.”
Mary Lou Crompton has been living on the block for 38 years and recalls seeing the father and daughter on occasion.
“When he was with his daughter he was all happy,” she said. “It’s a very sad tragedy to hear this as a neighbor because we all stuck together here.”
Authorities are not identifying the father and daughter at this time.
A GoFundMe page has been set up to help with Kayden’s funeral costs.