Physical therapist James Shields [photo], was found in a Queens home, dead, along with his ex and current wives and his son on Monday night. Police suspect triple-murder suicide
A horrific murder-suicide in Queens may have been sparked by a bitter custody battle across two continents, sources said.
The four victims, a man, two women and a young boy, were found shot dead in a first-floor apartment on 30th Drive near 23rd St. in Astoria just before 9 p.m. Monday. The adult male’s neck was also slashed.
The dead man was identified as physical therapist James Shields, 39, who recently posted a heated appeal for money on GoFundMe complaining about his Dutch ex-wife.
“Due to my ex’s extreme jealousy and bitterness she is dragging me through court case after court case to be spiteful,” he wrote in the post. “In the Netherlands, the government pays for all legal expenses, so she’s enjoying this as it drags on and on ruining me.”
“This is devastating my family and I,” he wrote. “The financial stress of this is destroying my current marriage and life. How do I choose between financially ruining my current relationship vs giving up the battle for my son?”
He added, “I had the perfect life a few years ago but it has spiraled out of control and I desperately need any help you can provide.”
The fundraising campaign, titled by Shields “Child kidnapping,” started three months ago attracted no donors.
47-year-old Linda Olthof and her ex-husband James Shield were locked in a bitter custody battle over their six-year-old son before James killed them both and then himself. The Dutch national was in the U.S. so her son could have a court mandated visit with his father
ME removes bodies of the victims after the Shields family murder-suicide in Queens, NY July 30
A custody battle led Shields, a Queens resident to shoot dead his 6-year-old son, James Shields Jr., his ex-wife Linda Olthof, 47 and his current wife 38-year-old Saskia Shields, before fatally turning the gun on himself, police sources said Tuesday.
The triple murder-suicide occurred Monday night inside 39-year-old killer James Shields’ first-floor Astoria apartment at 23-07 30th Drive, where he lived with wife Saskia Shields, sources said.
James Shields’ ex-wife, Linda Olthof, and their son, James Jr., live in the Netherlands and were in town so that the young boy could visit with his father for two months, according to sources.
Linda Olthof and James Shield Jr both died in Monday’s shooting rampage by her ex
Olthof had been ordered to let Shields see his child, sources said.
But around 9 p.m. Monday, Shields snapped and went on the bloody rampage before taking his own life, sources said.
He left behind a note that a source described as basically saying: “I had a perfect life, and now it’s all screwed up.”
Shields’ father, James Shields Sr., confirmed his son’s custody battle Tuesday morning when he showed up at the crime scene. He was taken away by detectives for questioning.
Shields ex-wife was planning to take their son to the Netherlands next week but the heartbroken father never thought his son’s custody dispute would turn violent.
“He never talked to me much,” Shields Sr. said. “He kept everything a secret.”
Cops initially went to the apartment for a 911 call of a man bleeding. The bodies were found strewn around the living room. A black semi-automatic pistol was found next to Shields.
Armed ESU members converge on the crime scene in the Astoria area of Queens, NY on Monday night
A victim is loaded for removal to the medical examiners office for autopsy
Police said the four bodies were found with gunshot wounds in the living room, with Shields closest to the doorway.
A dark semi-automatic handgun was found next to him, according to cops
Neighbors recalled hearing yelling from the apartment.
“It would seem like it was a frequent thing,” neighbor Ellie Alvarado said. “Different times of day, there was some kind of yelling coming from the apartment.”
On Monday night, Shea hinted that police had been called to the address in the past to quell domestic arguments.
Police are leaning toward the possibility that the killing was a triple-murder suicide.
“That is something certainly we will look into,” NYPD Chief of Detectives Dermot Shea said during a press briefing at the scene late Monday.