A San Francisco father mired in a custody battle with his ex-wife regarding their 9-year-old son – including whether to vaccinate him – killed the boy before taking his own life, according to police and court documents.
The bodies of Stephen O’Loughlin, 49, and his son, Pierce O’Loughlin, were found Wednesday by San Francisco cops in what investigators are probing as a murder-suicide, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.
The bodies were found at O’Loughlin’s apartment one day after he agreed to begin vaccinations for his son amid a custody battle with his ex-wife and the boy’s mother, Lesley Hu — who sought sole legal guardianship of Pierce while claiming her former partner is an anti-vaxxer, court documents cited by the newspaper shows.
“[O’Loughlin’s] stance on vaccinations has taken on a cult-like tone,” Hu wrote in a September filing, adding that Stephen had videotaped Pierce’s breathing several times a day for ailments as minor as a stuffy nose.
Hu alleged O’Loughlin had refused to allow their son to be vaccinated since early childhood. More recently, Hu claimed O’Loughlin had gotten involved in a self-help group from 2012 through 2016 and spent thousands on sessions after becoming convinced that the “government was out to get us and was trying to mind-control us,” court documents show.
Attorneys for O’Loughlin, meanwhile, insisted he was against getting his son vaccinated because Pierce had serious side effects when he was inoculated as a child.
“This is not an ‘anti-vax’ parent seeking to prevent his child from being vaccinated,” O’Loughlins attorneys wrote in a January filing, claiming that the “risk-to-benefit” ratio did not support Pierce to be jabbed with vaccines.
Attorneys for O’Loughlin throughout the divorce and custody proceedings did not return requests for comment, the Chronicle reported.
A trial in the custody battle between O’Loughlin and Hu – who divorced in 2016 — had been set for Tuesday, but was delayed until March, court records show.
Hu had been seeking sole legal custody of Pierce since July. Both she and O’Loughlin shared physical and legal custody over their son’s medical decision since November 2016, so both had to approve “vaccinations of any kind,” court records show.
The bodies of O’Loughlin and his son were found during a welfare check after Hu told police Pierce didn’t show up for school at Convent & Stuart Hall in San Francisco. The weapon used during the suspected murder-suicide was a gun, according to police records cited by the newspaper.
An attorney for Hu, meanwhile, said the issue of whether or not to vaccinate the couple’s son was only one of their long-held issues.
“I think it is undeniable that Pierce’s father suffered from untreated mental illness, which resulted in his taking the life of his son and his own life,” attorney Lorie Nachlis told the Chronicle in a statement Friday. “I believe that he did this horrid act in order to exercise the ultimate control over Lesley.”
The divorced parents did not just clash on vaccinations, but also whether their son was a “healthy child or a sick child,” Nachlis said.
“Pierce wasn’t killed because of a disagreement over a stuffy nose and he wasn’t killed because of a disagreement regarding vaccinations,” the statement continued. “He was killed for much more complex reasons.”
Hu, meanwhile, is now asking for privacy as she mourns the tragic deaths, KRON reported.