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Published October 20, 2009 by The Arizona Republic

Mother Sought help from Family Court; Now She's Dead

by Dustin Gardiner

A Peoria mother whose body was found Friday had recently tried to leave Arizona after receiving threats from her apparent slayer, but a judge denied her request, court records show.

Two weeks before she was killed, Dawn Axsom pleaded with Judge Jose Padilla of Maricopa County Superior Court to let her leave Arizona with her son because she feared Gabriel Schwartz, the toddler's father, would harm her or their boy.

Padilla denied the 26-year-old's request and ordered the pair to attend parental counseling together.

Axsom's body was found in her Peoria residence Friday. Police also found the bodies of Schwartz, 28, and Linda Braden, 56, Axsom's mother.

Schwartz is suspected of shooting and killing both women before turning the gun on himself, Peoria police spokesman Mike Tellef said Monday.

Tellef said the violence likely began in the downstairs kitchen, where Schwartz shot Braden. Then, Schwartz went upstairs, shooting Axsom in the master bathroom and killing himself in a bedroom.

Police discovered the grisly scene at about 10 a.m. Friday after Axsom didn't show up for work and a friend and the friend's mother went to the home, located in the 7400 block of West Sierra Street, to check on her.

When the friend knocked on the door, she heard Axsom and Schwartz's nearly 2-year-old boy crying upstairs.

The woman called police, who arrived and found the child unharmed inside his crib.

"When the officer took the baby outside, he covered (the child's) eyes so he couldn't see anything," Tellef said, recounting the scene.

Friends and co-workers who gathered outside Axsom's residence Friday said she was having ongoing custody problems with Schwartz and expressed frustration that the court system wouldn't let her leave Arizona when she knew Schwartz might harm her.

Court records show Padilla granted Axsom a protective order against Schwartz four days before the Oct. 6 hearing where he ordered her to attend parental counseling with him and denied her request to relocate to Maryland with the pair's son.

Axsom's son was placed into the custody of state Child Protective Services.

 

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