On Monday, the friend who accompanied Linda Olthof from the Netherlands to New York couldn't get in touch with her and called Olthof's sister back home. Her sister Googled "New York" to see if anything was amiss there and quickly came across news of a murder-suicide. "She believed something had befallen her sister," NYPD Chief of Detectives Dermot Shea said Tuesday, per the Washington Post, and she was right: Olthof and her 6-year-old son James were dead, along with the new wife of her ex-husband, who was also dead. Police say James Shields Jr., a 39-year-old physical therapist, shot and killed the three in his Queens apartment before taking his own life during what was to be his son's routine custodial visit.
Shea cited an April GoFundMe campaign started by Shields as an indication that the custody battle was the impetus. Shields, who was seeking $30,000 but received no donations, wrote, "I had the perfect life a few years ago but it has spiraled out of control ... How do I choose between financially ruining my current relationship vs giving up the battle for my son?" The name of the campaign was "Child Kidnapping"; he said Olthof had gone back to the Netherlands while pregnant after struggling to find work here and that he had been fighting to secure more than two weeks a year with the boy in the US. NBC New York reports the campaign was pulled from the site Tuesday. Olthof, 47, and her son had arrived in New York on July 21 and were due to leave next week, the New York Times reports. (Read more murder-suicide stories.)