My name is Kathy Atkins, I am Joshua Klaver’s mother.
Joshua’s life started off with two parents who were unmarried with no plans to do so. Not the ideal way to start off life; but Joshua was very loved by so many people. He was our giggle and the first baby born into my group of friends; the same people who love him to this day. But I can’t share with you about what happened to Joshua without sharing something about myself first.
I had a sweet baby with a man I didn’t know well. I was old enough to know better; but too young to be having a child on my own. When Joshua was going on three years old something happened in my life and I did not deal with it well. Just prior to KW’s marriage to a women with children of her own, I talked with him about what had happened to me and what I was was going through. He and Judy offered to watch over Joshua while I found some balance back in my life. I love Joshua and I took very good care of him. While I tried to learn how to breath again, I painfully know that I should have learned to do that with Joshua at my side. I spent a lot of time with Josh, but not as much as he needed and deserved from his mom; his primary home came to be with his dad and Judy at this time. Joshua loved Judy and we did things together with Joshua often. I would take Joshua for week long visits then he would head back to his dads; not the best balance for a child but his life was full of people who loved him, three older brothers, Judy’s children and he was happy doing the country thing while I regrouped myself and I did
This is what I told myself while I made life changing decisions regarding Joshua’s care. The harshness that happened to me kept banging around inside me and I freely allowed a world of drugs and alcohol to pull me gutter side; where I played for a time, with no respect for myself or many of those around me. This path damaged relationships with people whom I love. But what I carry everyday is what started a nightmare of pain for Joshua. A time when KW and I agreed legally that Joshua’s main residence would be with him and Judy I was at my lowest and hitchhiking to court mediation appointments, no home, no job. I was lost. I didn’t feel threatened by KW at the time, more afraid of the courts. I think I got that way through KW’s friendly reasoning of my failures to me while Joshua was being well cared for with him and Judy. At times I need to remind myself that there was a long time when Joshua was happy there with his dad, Judy and his brothers. Even after I pulled myself together I never thought to take legal action for custody and pull him from the solid bonds he had with those boys, the thought was a move to Morgan Hill would be needed when Joshua started school which we did when he was entering into first grade after spending the summer with us. I have always shared this information starting with the court appointed mediator who did a full therapeutic investigation on both families along with CPS before trial. It was a time that changed Joshua’s life and I felt I needed to share with her how things changed for Joshua and it’s part of our court file because I placed the information before her myself; But it was not years of drug addict abuse the Mercury News pushed out- Damn, Julia ( reporter ) wasn’t the truth bad enough for you that you felt a need to pile on media crap on top of everything. It was not an issue documented or claimed by KW and his lawyer in the court records. I found myself in a place were I felt crushed by what had happened to me; with Joshua in the country, with his brothers and animals it felt like the right choice at the time when everything fell apart, I allowed the party to pull me away from him but when he was with me we lived normal at my parents home, we laid in front of the TV watching movies and cartoons, the park, chasing him down the street when he took off on his big wheel and would not stop, long drives in the Santa Cruz Mountains rocking out to tunes, while I did therapy on myself to get it together. Josh was fun and he was funny and the System watched as the abuse changed him, When KW changed his behavior it impacted everyone’s life; but nothing like Joshua’s. It’s when the happy started to go away. The first child abuse complaint came directly from Joshua’s school in June 1984- The Sheriff Office responded but I was never notified, I learned of this call after we started legal action when the child abuse was exposed in 1985 – From this moment on the system did nothing to help Joshua, he died January 30 1989.
As I watch my grandchildren grow happy and so very loved without any kind of harm being placed on them, I am reminded of the choices I made so many years ago. Everything reminds me of my choices, our daughter’s ages as they grew past Joshua’s ages at every stage of his nightmare, my grandchildren as they do the same and the grandchildren that are not to be with Joshua gone. I’m reminded of my choices in the faces of my dear friend son’s face as they have started their families. I see my choices in the faces of strangers, young men who would be Joshua’s age as the years go by. The ‘what could have been if only’ is a harsh thing to carry everyday through life. As I share Joshua’s story with you, know that I stand before God always when I think of Josh throughout my day. It is so very painful to have all the memories in detail swirl in my thoughts at any given moment. Keep all of this in mind if you find yourself in a place like mine where you are losing yourself a bit too much to drugs and alcohol. Please know that it is very possible to never recover from that choice. Never think there is not going to be an aftermath from your decisions that will pour out before you for years after you have cleansed your system free from the overload of anything you could get your hands on. Never think where’s my mom again? as awful as that was for Joshua to understand is not the worst thing that can happen while you are high or wanting to be high. I placed Joshua with his father where his abuse became a family secret, where he died many years later.
As I share the actions of other people who touched Joshua’s life please know I step forward first; I am responsible for the decisions I made.
The place I felt was safe for Joshua became a place with no way out, I am very serious when I say this. Joshua’s nightmare became the child abuse and the adult energy that swirled around the exposure. The Santa Clara County Family Court system, CPS and the Sheriff’s Department were our only way to get the help Joshua needed. But we were not prepared for dealings with a legal system when it concerned officer involved domestic violence in the 1980’s. KW, Joshua’s father, was a Sheriff Deputy and his second wife, Bobbi, was a Highway Patrol Officer. No one wanted to make decisions that could impact two people’s jobs in law enforcement. It was a home that ended up to be full of silence about Joshua being abused and protection of KW’s abusive behavior was widespread. There was silence that came from KW’s wives, a silence that flowed from one to the other in a breeze as one left and the other stepped into Joshua’s life.
I would also like to share with you the other adults in the room involved in Joshua’s life outside his family. Santa Clara County, California – The Sheriff’s Department, Medical Examiners office, the 1990 and 2014 Child death review boards, the DA’s Office and Child protective services (CPS) Family Court System. California Attorney General’s Office, this is not a complete list so I added a separate link on the page. . Some touched Joshua’s life harshly as they stood by and watched it happened and others who joined late but decided to try their best to ignore me for many years your on my list too. So between watching over my grandkids I spent a good about of time making many levels of Government aware of what happened. News agencies , local, national I didn’t care but no one stepped up for Joshua, no one said ,wait a minute, what ? please explain this to me, I was ignored, Even during the new investigation, I was Hey Look at Me – 27 year old cold case opened – OIDV – Nothing and a billboard in the Bay Area was not in our budget but we gave serious thought to it. Until a local reporter in the Bay Area I placed Joshua’s information before said the magic word I have been waiting to hear for so many years > What ? by someone willing to do more then just listen.
You might be thinking that Joshua’s death and the years of abuse and police protection doesn’t happened like that anymore and yes laws have changed about domestic violence since 1989 but Officer Involved Domestic Violence is still a dangerous issue. An issue full of silence in our Country, the silence that allowed Joshua’s nightmare to continue unchecked still happens today. Not all child victims of OIDV die like Joshua did, but many sit in the silence of their homes while they live their own personal nightmares.
Joshua died in January of 1989 by hanging when he was 10 years old after years of abuse at the hands of his father, Santa Clara County Sheriff Deputy KW Klaver. The Sheriff’s Department had on going knowledge of the abuse for years before Joshua’s death; as did the Family Court System, we had judges flip on their decisions, not of fact of findings but the willingness to hand Joshua over to his father with the kind of information they had before them.
After years of abuse and many family court interactions we were told by the Family Court of Santa Clara County that the next morning Joshua would meet with a Judge to talk about what he was going through. Did they place him with CPS for the night? No, did they place him to stay with me where there was no questions on his safety ? No, The commissioner ordered Joshua to go back to his father’s for the night! She felt it was important that Joshua knew that he can go to his dad’s and feel safe. I was ordered to go home, where Joshua was with my mother and our daughter and prep him for going to his dads for the night, help him feel safe about speaking with a Judge the next day about his path then drop him by his father’s I was ordered to do so but we didn’t make it home in time after court that day. Joshua died by hanging an hour after his father and his wife Bobbi took Joshua from my mother minutes before we arrived. The next morning there was a meeting with a few Judges and both family’s lawyers at the family law courthouse. They pondered over what they could have done different over the years to help Joshua, we never heard from them after that.
# I’m going to make a statement about what came from the Mercury News when the reporter spoke of Joshua going in to see the Judge to pick me or his dad – Thats not the case, I’m sure Joshua was going to be talking about many things but the child abuse forced on him was one of the issues to be addressed which could have caused issues for the Klaver’s law enforcement careers. But pushing Joshua to pick – Dennis and I never would have put that pressure on Joshua, his mind and heart were too fragile to do such a thing to him. The night before his death we talked with Hollister PD about calling in San Benito County CPS who could have chosen to place him , I regret not doing that. I wanted to talk with Joshua after court before the Klaver’s because I knew they would mess with his head as they had in the past. Dennis and I had decided we were going to ask the courts to place Joshua with KW’s first wife’s son who was also a Sheriff Deputy to watch over Joshua until the court mediator invaded our homes again, Joshua wrote a suicide note in a school journal months before his request to stay with us, he wrote this note months after Judge Fogel returned Joshua to his father, his abuser. We wanted to know what was going on and he needed to be in a safe place for that to happen, I went to Judy’s home the morning after Joshua died and I told Stretch that we were going to ask the courts to place Joshua with him, he told me he would have taken him into his home, KW would have had to follow his rules, we were willing but we never made it to court the next day.
In 2006 I found a article on line called ‘The Klaver Trilogy’. The article was written by legal defense for police officers in California. I go over the article throughout the blog and I have spent a lot of time with the system to learn what happened years ago. In 2014 Bobbi Klaver shared information that opened an investigation, I feel strongly that it was a investigation that Sheriff Smith did not want to happen because of the history the Sheriff’s Department had with Joshua. Sheriff Smith left this witness legally unquestioned for 18 months until she became legally nervous for herself after being put off by the Sheriff’s Department enough times that we lost her true statement when she was finally interviewed. . Please take the time that I would be very grateful for and read my story so you can understand why Sheriff Laurie Smith conducted the investigation the way she did starting just before her re- election bid in 2014.
This story takes place over many years. Before and after Joshua’s death in 1989 and I am very aware that my words might be challenged by other’s from time to time – I’m Ready . .Kathy Atkins
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