MAMARONECK, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — A whirlwind of emotions are haunting a Westchester County father.
He got a court order giving him physical custody of his daughter, Gabriella, but her mother refused to surrender the child.
The next day, the 2-year-old was dead.
On Tuesday, Stephen Boyd spoke exclusively with CBS2’s Tony Aiello.
“I’m disturbed. I’m angry. I’m upset. I’m sad. I’m confused. I don’t understand it,” Boyd said.
For nearly a month, Boyd has tried to comprehend the series of events that culminated in the death of his beautiful daughter.
Aiello: “Daddys usually have nicknames for their little girls. What did you call Gabi?”
Boyd: “I called her ‘Mama.’ My name for her, nickname for her was ‘Mama.’ She was just the sweetest little girl ever.”
They were together every weekend, until the final Saturday in April. A 9-1-1 call brought Mamaroneck police to the home where Gabriella lived with her mother, Cynthia Arce.
The girl was found with fatal injuries, the exact nature of which investigators have not revealed.
Police said Arce tried to stab two officers. She was shot and remains hospitalized.
“I was hellbent on trying to get custody of my daughter,” Boyd said.
He said he worried for a year about the mother’s mental state. The day before Gabriella died Boyd got an order from a judge giving him physical custody, and ordering Arce to “stay away” from the little girl.
But police left the home when Arce wouldn’t comply.
“I just don’t understand what more you need than a signed court order from a judge that says ‘effective immediately,'” Boyd said.
The Westchester County District Attorney’s Office and Child Protective Services were also consulted the day before Gabriella died, and still the judge’s order was not enforced.
“The death of Gabi is horrific in nature, but the fact that it could have and should have been prevented simply exacerbates the situation,” said Martin Rosen, Boyd’s attorney.
They’re waiting for autopsy results, and several reviews of how the case was handled, but Boyd admitted, “I have this sick feeling in my stomach. There’s a big knot there. It was never there before.”
It’s a pain that will never subside.
Boyd told CBS2’s Aiello he is pouring his energy into creating a foundation in Gabriella’s memory, to benefit children and advocate for fathers.