The story, as I first heard it, went like this:
A mother and her two-year-old toddler were sitting on the bed, while the nine-year-old was sitting on the floor, playing a video game. The mother had a loaded gun in her hand, but couldn’t find her holster, so she placed the gun (loaded with a round chambered) on the bed next to the two-year-old while she got up to look for her holster. The two-year-old then picked up the gun, pulled the trigger, shot and killed his nine-year-old brother. The mother had, in the past, allowed the toddler to pull the trigger on the gun when it was unloaded.
But since I first heard the story Wednesday afternoon, it has changed some. Now police say there are more questions than answers, and the mother, 28-year-old Wendy Lavarnia and father, convicted felon in two states, Kansas Lavarnia have both been arrested and charged with first-degree murder. And what led to this turn of events? Apparently Mr. & Mrs. Lavarnia went to some great lengths to clean up the scene, wasting precious time while their son, Landen, lay dying from a gunshot wound to the head. Police, in fact, found blood residue in several rooms in the house, as well as in the family car. And lies … initially Ms. Lavarnia claimed her husband was not at home when the shooting occurred, and it was some three hours later when he returned. But evidence says otherwise … evidence indicates that he actually assisted in the cleanup efforts. Additionally, when Mr. Lavarnia did return to the house, he had a fresh gunshot wound to his arm that he had tried to disguise by causing additional injury with a screwdriver. Interesting? Curiouser and curiouser, if you ask me.
The investigation continues, and all the facts are obviously not known at this time, so I will refrain from saying more about the actual circumstances surrounding the crime. We will never know for certain if young Landen’s life might have been saved if the parents had immediately called for help, rather than wasting precious time destroying evidence by ‘cleaning up’, but we should assume that it is a possibility, which makes the parents guilty of murder no matter who actually pulled the trigger.
It has not been said in whose name the gun was registered, but Mr. Lavarnia, being a convicted felon in both Arizona and Ohio, was prohibited from owning a gun or even being in a home where he knew there was a gun, yet he admits he knew of the gun. Ms. Lavarnia had allowed the two-year-old to “practice” pulling the trigger of an unloaded gun. As most of you know, I am against guns in the hands of civilians, however I will not go down that path at this time. In this case, the gun was not at fault, but two very selfish and stupid people who never should have had children, let alone a gun.
The couple also have a four-year-old who was also allegedly on the bed with the mother, the gun, and his younger brother, and a one-year-old … no word on where the baby was at the time. The two youngest children were “substance-exposed” newborns, and at one point all four children had been removed from the home by Arizona Department of Child Safety for a period of time, but were eventually returned to the parents. This, in my book, makes the Department of Child Safety an accessory to murder.
Today there are more questions than answers, and I will update this story when more information is available, but for today, suffice it to say this is a tragedy that has affected many and that will be forever a dark cloud in the lives of the three remaining Lavarnia children.