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Two-year-old may have lost life at hands of father

After teenagers found the body of a 2-year-old girl in a New Jersey creek, a nationwide manhunt for her father began. The 27-year-old man was the last person seen with the young girl who had been released to the custody of her alleged murderer by her mother, the man's estranged girlfriend. According to court records, the two had altered their child custody agreement from an open visitation schedule to one with a set schedule in August.

The man was found on the other side of the country and was detained. He recently appeared in a Monmouth County court in Freehold, New Jersey where his attorney attempted to argue that the $10 million bail that had been set for the man was over the top. The judge disagreed and cited the man's flight as evidence that he would try again if released. According to reports, he had given away his clothes and his vehicle before fleeing.

Both families were distraught by the incident. The 27-year-old had allegedly thrown his 2-year-old daughter into a creek at Shark River Park in Wall Township, New Jersey last month. She was strapped to her car seat which was weighted down with a car jack used to change a flat tire. Her mother had called police after the 27-year-old did not return with her that night. He had told her that he was taking their daughter to see a movie.

While in court, the man spoke with a calm voice and remained seemingly unfazed until a prosecutor began describing the scene of the murder. If convicted, a judge could sentence the 27-year-old to life in prison without parole.

This case is a tragic and rare example of the severe actions taken in child custody cases. While most cases will never reach such heights, child custody situations can sometimes fuel emotion outbursts from dueling parties.

Source: The Star-Ledger, "Prosecutor: N.J. man weighed down toddler's car seat with car jack to ensure death," MaryAnn Spoto, Dec. 5, 2011

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