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 review because I placed the information before her myself. It was not an issue documented or claimed by KW and his lawyer in the court records. I found myself feeling with Joshua in the country, with his brothers and animals that it was the right choice at the time then everything fell apart. When KW changed his behavior it impacted everyone’s life; but nothing like Joshua’s, it’s when his happy started to go away. The first child abuse complaint came directly from Joshua’s school in June 1984- The Sheriffs 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.
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 bright 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 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 and where he died many years later.
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 until he died.
Raising our daughters in a fog of grieving that I entered and exited from regularly for so many years was painful but life moves forward whether you wish for it to do so or not and children grow so there came a time when I had to re-enter the outside world, did I want to, no I did not. . . the past moments in living detail are in my head at any given moment so conversations with strangers was hard and for years after his death almost impossible but we had very active girls on our hands so one has to step out but it has been a harsh struggle at times, it’s hard to keep track of someones words when the past pops in from time to time mid sentence. After the case opened in 2014 hiding out did happen once again, old worried on fear has a way of finding a person. After what happened in 1990 we were afraid then when the Sheriff Office told us KW was very angry they were coming around asking questions and they told us he blamed it all on me, sitting at our kitchen table and then they went away and slammed the door shut. .That experience scared the shit out of us but it wouldn’t be the last time the Sheriff Office would do this, 18 years later when the Attorney Generals Office forced Sheriff Smith to met with me she felt a need to crack open KW’s private personnel file and share information with without even asking for it , she shared details of work related issues then about all the domestic violence calls made to their home for years after Josh died and as I listened to her talk what I heard was that the Sheriff of Santa Clara County, California knew that one of her Deputies was continuing to abuse his family after Josh died and they did nothing for those children . . .they knew their past screw-ups with Joshua long before this time and they still watched . .
Then 18 years after his death in 2008 after finding the Klaver Trilogy, posted above , its a article written by a legal firm for police officers, it’s about KW’s work issues with the Sheriff Office after Joshua died, he was bragging how he took his issues right to the top of the Sheriff’s Office and Sheriff Smith and he kept pushing her name out as being involved in what happened in 1990 as underSheriff and that got my attention real quick, all the answers to why Homicide Deputies were sent to our home in 1990 started here I thought. Just by reading the thing I learned that while they were refusing to investigate his death after sending Homicide Deputies to us and crushing me again they were in a courtroom with his father fighting and making deals over his need to use his sick and vacation time instead of paid leave while they were being forced by the CDRT review to look at what they had done in the past or didn’t do. I again spent a good amount of time making many levels of Government aware of what happened in the past and what I had leaned since. I thought I would find a newer and improved government officials this time so many years later . . .not the case.
At this time my purpose was not to demand charges against KW, that time had come and gone with the information I had, I could not prove what happened at their house that night, I had my gut feelings for years like others had but you can not do anything with that ever when the Sheriff Office refused to protect Joshua before his death through 2 child abuse calls to his school with a social worker there and again when he died < this was a huge issue and my purpose was to expose the actions of the system when it comes to officer involved domestic violence and not just for Joshua, our Country has a huge issue with OIDV, this was my purpose . .that was until Bobbi Klaver’s friend contacted me on facebook in 2014, 7 years after I found the Klaver Trilogy on line. She said she had information about the Klavers and Joshua. Listening to what she had to share has been extremely painful and crushing to process and this is when my purpose changed .. .then after hearing Joshua’s social on the podcast MY Purposed Changed Again and now I’m 64 years old and still fighting for justice , it’s been 31 years since Josh died and we fought to stop the abuse for 4 years before that and the last 7 in the middle of a open then closed then opened again then closed again and now open again cold case homicide investigation, that is what they are calling it now but if this is what a homicide investigation looks like I worry for other victims of crime in this Country.
Bobbi Klaver shared about her life with KW with a friend or I most likely would have stopped banging on the system about their misconduct years ago, I’m tired but things keep changing because of words that come out of other people mouths, Bobbi Klaver, Joshua’s social worker, the Klavers neighbors claiming Josh was still hanging in a different part of the barn then the Klavers have always said while claiming they had cut Josh down, the neighbor says no, Sheriff Smith words on the podcast . .not my words, my words have meant nothing to this System of ours for years until other mouths finally opened . I started this page years ago talking about officer involved domestic violence and how the system protects their own by sharing Joshua’s story but things have changed over the years since.
After Bobbi shared is when the Sheriff Office became involved again under much protest from us to the State level and after more misconduct I went back to the State and Federal but nothing so I went to news agencies , local, national, I didn’t care but no one responded, 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 step forward, the San Jose Mercury News.
You might be thinking that Joshua’s death after years of abuse and Sheriff Office protection that came from the Top doesn’t happened like that anymore. .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 because the fact of findings became less of a child abuse issue but because they had 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 daughters and prep him for going to his dads for the night, help him feel safe about it and 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 then we never heard from them after that.
I feel the ‘The Klaver Trilogy’ places Sheriff Smith / UnderSheriff in charge of our 1990, 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 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.
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.
A word on the Mercury News podcast that is posted on my site – after the Podcast came out and because of the comments made about me being a druggie mom and couch hopping with a infant Josh with me for years I contacted the reporter and the paper about this and Julia’s response was I would never say those things about you Kathy but there they were . .I was told they removed such language from the many editorials in many papers from around the Bay Area they own. I still come across them from time to time, Was the information changed in all the papers ?? I’m thinking No But I know the information was never changed on the podcast, I once again threatened to bring legal action but I just stepped away. . .I decided I was willing to take the hit then have the Mercury News pull the podcast if I sued.
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