A grieving mum has shared heartbreaking doorbell footage of her happily son leaving for school for the final time – hours before he was ‘shot dead by his own father’.
Greyson Kessler was found dead alongside his father John Stacey, 47, in May last year in what police believe to be a murder-suicide.
Shortly after his death, his mum Ali Kessler, 41, discovered footage of her and Greyson giggling when he accidentally shut the door on her as they left home together and she exclaimed ‘you almost hit mummy in the face’.
CCTV shows them walking down the path together before Greyson is heard yelling ‘a butterfly’ as he left for school for the final time.
Ali decided to release butterflies at Greyson’s funeral because of how much he loved them and she held his one-year memorial last month.
Digital marketer Ali says she watches videos of Greyson every day as she lives ‘anyone’s worst nightmare’ and that the only thing keeping her going is her campaign to raise awareness of domestic violence.
Ali, from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, said: “I found the video after he died and I was just like ‘oh my God, he’s screaming that there’s a butterfly’. I cried.
“I watch videos of him every day. I happened to take so many photos of him over the years.
“That’s not even the beginning of what I look back on.
“I shared the video because I want him to be remembered and honoured and to create awareness to what’s going on.
“He loved butterflies. He was the happiest little boy. He was everyone’s best friend. He was so funny that he put me into tears. He was fearless.
“He loved singing and dancing. He was the best and he was so smart that the teacher said he was two years ahead of all the other kids.
“It’s been a nightmare. Every day it’s a struggle to wake up. The only thing that keeps me going is helping to raise awareness.
“I don’t want his death to be for nothing. Not only did I lose my son, I lost my life. I’m not a mum anymore. My world was 24/7 all about Greyson, making him lunch, taking him to places.
“I have bills to pay so if I don’t get out of bed in the morning, I’m homeless.”
Ali had been in the process of trying to get a restraining order taken out against Stacey after he sent her abusive messages and she found a tracker attached to her car but her application was denied on the same day Greyson was murdered.
Ali says the pair met on an app in New York six years ago and although they’d dated, they were never in a relationship.
She moved to Florida and found out she was pregnant but Stacey insisted he didn’t want any part of the pregnancy so Ali was left shocked when he also moved to the same state and applied for 50% custody when Greyson was six months old.
However Stacey became increasingly jealous when Ali started dating someone else and began to inundate her with disturbing texts.
Stacey wrote in one message: “You ruined my life you f*cking piece of shit.”
And in another eerie message, he said: “Are you trying to get a restraining order because of text messages.
“That would be devastating to my career I hope you know, child support would evaporate, and would further fan the flames.
“If you don’t reply, I’ll assume that’s a yes.”
The day Ali was in court attempting to get a restraining order, Stacey failed to drop Greyson off at school so she turned up at his condo with a police escort but there was no answer.
Ali claims that officers told her there was nothing they could do because Greyson was with a parent leaving her to frantically search for her son herself.
She called a locksmith who got into the house at 11pm but at 5am the following day, she discovered her son had been killed.
Ali said: “We didn’t date for very long so it’s not like we were in a relationship. He wanted no part of the pregnancy and he didn’t want to be in our lives. I had the baby and he wasn’t even on the birth certificate. When Greyson was six months old, he sued me for 50% custody and won.
“He moved down here and tortured me for five years.
“During the pregnancy he sent horrible text messages saying that I’m an awful person and this was no way to bring up a child.
“He would degrade me and tell me what a horrible person I am. He harassed me, he’d send me 60 messages at a time and there was nothing I could do.
“The pattern was very not normal. He was making my life miserable. I tried to ignore him unless it was directly about Greyson.
“I started dating and he got very jealous, he put a tracker on my car and I could sense that I was being followed so I took my car to a shop and they found a tracker.
“He was sending horrific messages saying that he wanted to see my head separated from my body, he wanted to see me as miserable as he was.
“At the end, when I was getting those messages, I was trying to get a restraining order but it got denied the same day and that night Greyson’s father came to pick him up and I had to give him to him. That next day he was dead.”
“I called his teacher and he wasn’t in school. I asked for a police escort to go to his condo and knock on the door but nobody answered so they said there was nothing they could do because he was with a parent.
“I called the police around six times that day. I was frantic and looking for him. I was panicking the entire time from 8am. I thought maybe he’d taken him out of the state.
“I got in touch with the owners of the condo and a locksmith who got in the condo at 11pm and I got a knock on my door at 5am and they were both dead with gunshot wounds from the day before.”
Ali is sharing the video to help raise awareness of domestic violence and she’s campaigning for Greyson’s Law which would help protect children at risk of harm from their parents.
She’s also set up website called GreysonsChoice.org.
Ali said: “If someone is harming another person, they shouldn’t have a child in their custody.
“I never expected that he would hurt Greyson. It’s anyone’s worst nightmare. I knew he wasn’t ok and nor normal and there were red flags but never in a million years did I think he’d kill his own four-year-old son.
“I was asking for help for years. You have to err on the side of caution. I should have had the help. All I asked for was to be protected. I asked for help and I was denied.
“Every single day I get messages from someone asking for help or advice because they’re in a similar situation. It’s crazy. It’s brought me together with other women who have been through the exact same thing, who have lost their child and it’s crazy how many of us there are.”
In the months leading up to his death, Stacey shared on Facebook that he’d donated to suicide prevention charities PAPYRUS, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and to the National Suicide Prevention Line.
A spokesperson for the Fort Lauderdale Police Department said: “The Fort Lauderdale Police Department is investigating the deaths of an adult male and a child in what appear to be a domestic-related murder suicide. The bodies of the two were discovered on Friday, May 21 at approximately 10 p.m. The incident occurred at 520 Southeast 5th Avenue, Apt 2308 in the city of Fort Lauderdale.
“This is a parent’s worst nightmare. We understand the mother and family of the child victim are feeling an immense amount of grief at this time. We want to ensure them, and our community, we will be conducting a full investigation into this incident.
“Preliminary investigation has revealed the adult male shot and killed his four-year-old son before turning the gun on himself. Based on the information detectives have gathered thus far, it is believed the shootings occurred sometime on Thursday, May 20, inside of the residence.
“The identification of the child victim is not being released per Marsy’s Law. The adult male has been identified as John Michael Stacey, W/M, 3/4/74.
“The Fort Lauderdale Police Department encourages anyone experiencing a mental health crisis to contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).”
A spokesperson for The Seventeenth Judicial Circuit said: “Judges are prohibited from commenting on court proceedings and cannot discuss the specifics of any orders.
“As we stated at the time of the event, it cannot be stressed enough that if someone has reason to believe a child or any other person is in danger, they should call law enforcement — in all instances.”