The shocking deaths of four people in an Astoria apartment on Monday were the result of a murder-suicide. In a press conference today, Chief of Detectives Dermot Shea said that James Shields Jr. killed his six-year-old son; his ex-wife, who was the mother of the child; and his current wife on Monday—and that Shields was involved in a bitter custody battle. "Financial and custody seems to be the primary reasons behind the tragic incident," he said.
Apparently Linda Olthof, Shields' ex-wife, had come to the NYC with their son Jimmy from the Netherlands, where she lives with the child. (She had also traveled with a friend, who reportedly called the police when Olthof, 47, didn't get in touch.) A building porter called 911 to the building, 23-07 30th Drive, on Monday night before 9 p.m.
Officers found the little boy, Olthof and Shields's wife, Saskia Shields, all of whom were shot, in the living room. The body of James Shields, 39, was found near a door, with his throat slashed and gunshot wounds.
Shea stressed that there's still an active search of the apartment as well as a vehicle. Two Glocks were found, and, Shea pointed out, another 70 rounds on Shields were also found on Shields. "That's an interesting wrinkle in this case... what those rounds were meant for... may never be known," Shea said.
Shields's father, James Shields Sr., was seen at the apartment building today. According to the Post, "The elder Shields called his son 'a good boy,' and noted that his son’s ex-wife was planning to take his grandson, Jimmy, to the Netherlands next week. A visibly distraught Shields Sr., sitting on the front steps of the building where his son lived, at times with his head in his hands, called his grandson 'a beautiful boy.'"
He added that his son "never talked to me much. He kept everything a secret... He’s a good man, a good boy."
Shields Sr. also confirmed that his son was involved in a difficult custody fight with Olthof. Shields had started a GoFundMe campaign titled "Child Kidnapping" in the spring, complaining that his ex-wife had taken their son to the Netherlands. He accused her of moving back to Holland because she couldn't find work in the U.S. and not letting him seeing their child: "I’ve been spending a fortune to travel there as much as I could when he was a baby. Now that he’s older he expressed he wanted to spend time in the US. This was at the same point I was getting remarried to another Dutch woman who is such a loving and supportive person. Due to my ex’s extreme jealousy and bitterness she is dragging me through court case after court case to be spiteful. In the Netherlands, the government pays for all legal expenses, so she’s enjoying this as it drags on and on ruining me."
He also said on the GoFundMe page, "She only wants my son to be in the US for 2 weeks a year, which I just can’t accept as a father," and had complained that his "own lawyer is discriminating against me not advocating for my rights as a father... had the perfect life a few years ago but it has spiraled out of control and I desperately need any help you can provide."
A friend of Olthof's told the Daily News that Shields, a physical therapist, refused to pay child support and had a bad temper. "She told me that some of the demands that he would make in court papers were totally one-sided and selfish," the friend said. "He put the financial burden on her."
A neighbor in Astoria said Shields's behavior was erratic. In an interview the Post, Tony Bekan said, "He’s friendly and nice, but he had parties like Tuesday at 3 a.m., and the whole neighborhood couldn’t sleep, beer cans everywhere... He was not himself lately. He was like a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde person. He was nice and then, you know."