"He threatened to kill me, my children, and my family, and to commit suicide afterward," said the child's mother.
Trigger warning: The story contains details of murder-suicide that might be distressing to some readers.
A three-year-old child lost his life after getting caught up in a heated battle between his mother and father.
The little boy named Dylan was shot to death by his father, who then turned the gun on himself and pulled the trigger. Both their bodies were found inside their home in Lowell Township in Michigan, US.
Before the tragic discovery, Dylan's mother Katie Thebo revealed that Derek had threatened to kill her relatives after the two of them separated. They were going through a bitter divorce and custody battle, and Derek reportedly made a kill list that had the names of Katie's relatives on it.
"He threatened to kill me, my children, and my family, and to commit suicide afterward," Katie wrote in court records, obtained by FOX 17. "He rattled off the names of my family members and said he knew where they worked, he knew when they were home, and that he could get to them and hurt them."
This wasn't the first time Derek made such threats. He began threatening Katie right from the second day of their marriage, and most of their fights would end this way. When their custody battle began, Derek continued threatening Katie by saying he would kill her, their children, her family members, and finally himself.
Eventually, the court gave a no-contact order, and the two of them were not allowed to speak to each other. But Katie got the fright of her life after Derek sent her a gift on mother's day and included a chilling message: "You will be my last."
According to Daily Record, Derek later said he didn't mean to threaten her and said he loved his son.
In 2019, Derek lost his job as a corrections officer for the state of Michigan. He later got another job but eventually quit in January, 2021. This led to things between him and Katie going from bad to worse.
On September 1, 2021, the police found Derek and his 3-year-old son with gunshot wounds in a case of murder-suicide.
"Dylan was an amazing kiddo who was full of energy, loved being around family and friends, and always brought a smile to everyone's face with his crazy antics and sayings," wrote the child's devastated mother on a GoFundMe page, set up to raise funds for his funeral. "Dylan was tragically and unexpectedly taken from our family Wednesday night at just 3 years old."
In a follow-up message, Katie said it was better not to focus on "hate" and wanted to celebrate Dylan's memory instead.
"Hate is easy and destructive," Katie said. "During this time of such pain it is easy to hate and place blame anywhere... But hate doesn’t fix anything. Rather, it causes us to lose ourselves if we allow ourselves to be blinded and overcome with it. And We have already lost enough..."
"As Dylan lit up our lives with his personality and loving heart, let us be the light, the bigger person, the change we want to see in the world," the mother continued. "Let us make Dylan proud as he watches over us."
Cover image source: GoFundMe