In between an assault that led to a court case against Trendell Goodwin and her fearing for her life, LaShonda Childs wrote a local judge a letter asking for Goodwin to be released from jail, according to court documents obtained by this news organization.
Goodwin, 28, has been charged with murder, felonious assault and improper discharge of a firearm in the death of Childs, 17, who would have turned 18 today. She died of a gunshot wound to the head less than two weeks after she posted “domestic violence is real” on her Facebook page. Goodwin may be arraigned today.
Five months ago, Childs told a judge she loved Goodwin.
“He’s really not a bad guy,” Childs wrote in an April 23, 2018 letter to Dayton Municipal Court Judge Daniel Gehres. “We went through a rough patch in a life together, which resulted in a huge mess. I am willing and ready to patch our relationship and friendship back up.
“I could honestly say I love and miss him dearly. I wouldn’t want to see him in jail, it’s not for him; a genuinely kind hearted, family oriented man.”
Artemis Center executive director Jane Keiffer said, in general, it’s common for women to renounce earlier statements about their partners in abusive relationships.
“I think victims recant because of fear,” said Keiffer, who heads Dayton’s domestic violence resource center. “Our batterers are saying to us this case better get dropped or more violence is going to occur.”
Keiffer said batterers can be financial breadwinners or babysitters or transportation and that victims fear losing resources.
“We recant because we love our abusers and we trust that they’re going to change,” Keiffer said. “It’s really common that victims will go to a judge and say, ‘No, it was all a misunderstanding’ and I’m going to say more likely because it is fear because they’re afraid that the violence is going to continue to escalate.”
On April 24, 2018 — a day after Childs’ letter was dated — a court docket entry in Goodwin’s misdemeanor assault case against Childs noted that 161 days of Goodwin’s 180-day jail sentence was suspended. Goodwin’s electronic monitoring also was stopped.
Later in the letter, Childs wrote: “We both are just good people with short tempers. Hopefully we can put this in our past and start over.”
Police reports before and after the letter include several accusations of domestic violence.
A Dayton police report from Oct. 11, 2017 indicate Childs said Goodwin became upset because he thought someone else was texting with her and threw her phone against a wall and then into the street and tossed her purse in a sewer.
A Christmas Eve 2017 report shows Childs told Dayton police that Goodwin again accused her of texting another man, dumped a drink on her and attempted to drag her out of a vehicle by her feet.
There also were Dayton police reports involving disputes between them in January, February and March 2018.
About a month after the April 2018 letter, Childs’ mother reported to police that Goodwin threatened to kill the teen. On July 18, 2018, LaShonda Childs was accused of pepper-spraying Goodwin’s sister in the face after asking where her brother was. That case was ongoing in Montgomery County Juvenile Court when Childs died.
Keiffer said a victim attempting to lash out at her boyfriend is rare, as is putting non-cryptic domestic violence posts online.
On Sept. 10, 2018, Gehres ordered an additional year of probation for Goodwin and continued an April decision for a criminal protection order that mandated Goodwin stay 500 feet away from Childs.
On Sept. 13, 2018, Goodwin caused “burn injuries” to Childs during a robbery attempt at Childs’ North Upland Avenue residence, according to an affidavit and statement of facts written by a Dayton police detective. Goodwin allegedly lit Childs’ wig on fire and threw it at her and took her cell phone.
A Sept. 15 Dayton police report said Childs and her mother indicated shots had been fired into their home. A Sept. 25 report said Childs “was threatened by another.”
On Sept. 21, Childs’ Facebook post said, in part: “If you see the signs don’t ignore it y’all. Domestic violence is real not just in movies.”
All of those reports and her social media posts came before the Oct. 2 deadly shooting of Childs, who had said she was trying to get away from Goodwin — a marked contrast from her April letter, the end of which read:
“I want my protector back. He helps me make better decisions and I always felt a sense of security around him. Life’s been hard without Trendell. I always think about him and I know the feeling’s mutual. Please Judge (Gehres), he’s my whole heart and we both are past this, I’m sure of it. Love, LaShonda Childs.”