Las Vegas Sun

October 19, 2019

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Wife filed for divorce before murder-suicide but didn’t appear before judge


Steve Marcus

A Metro Police vehicle is shown behind the gates of the Torrey Pines Condominiums Thursday, June 30, 2016. On Wednesday night, a man shot and killed his three children and himself at their home inside the complex, The wife, also shot and killed by the husband, was found a few blocks from their home at a Walgreens parking lot on Lake Mead and Jones boulevards.

A Clark County Family Court judge last week was to preside over a custody hearing between a woman who weeks earlier had filed for divorce and her husband. The couple never showed, court records revealed.

A week later, the husband would go on to fatally shoot the woman and their three children before turning the gun on himself, according to Metro Police.

Clark County District Court records show Phoukeo Dej-Oudom, 35, filed for divorce from Jason Dej-Oudom on May 25, records show.

On Wednesday, the man gunned down his wife shortly after 7 p.m. at a Walgreens back parking lot at Lake Mead and Jones boulevards, police said. She was struck multiple times, including once in the head.

Metro SWAT officers later found his body, along with his children — Anhurak, 9, Xonajuk, 14, and Dalavanh, 15 — in a bedroom at the family’s nearby apartment.

In the divorce documents, she requested primary physical custody and indicated there was some history of domestic violence and Child Protective Services involvement.

In separate documents seeking temporary custody, she wrote that the man was a “flight risk,” who had at least once taken the children across state lines without her consent and “the children need to be in my care for education purposes and stability. Father cannot hold a job.”

A custody hearing was scheduled for June 22. Neither the man, the woman nor their counsel appeared before the judge. The court ruled that the case would be dismissed on Aug. 24 if no action were taken.

The documents show the woman was not requesting alimony or child support, and she drafted a custody schedule that would allow the man to take the children on weekends or on his days off from work.

On Thursday few details were available about the Dej-Oudoms. Court records show the couple married in Columbus, Ohio, in 2000 and the family moved to Las Vegas in March 2015.

The children last attended Culley Elementary, Escobedo Middle School and Brinley Middle Schools, the Clark County School District said Thursday.

Metro Police Lt. Dan McGrath said early Thursday that police responded to a domestic violence call at the family’s apartment in June.

A Metro spokesman acknowledged the incident but said the department was “not releasing any information at this time” because it’s being looked at as part of the homicide investigation, Officer Larry Hadfield said.

The couple were also involved in another domestic dispute out of state about a decade ago, McGrath said. “Domestic violence is still a challenge, but when somebody kills children it disturbs everybody.”

Hannah Brook, director of community and donor relations at local shelter and advocacy group Safe Nest, said, “It’s disappointing that the only time that the community talks about domestic violence is when there's a situation like the domestic-violence homicide (that) happened last night,” she said. “It needs to be a continuous dialogue for education purposes as well as to make people aware what services are available to them.”

Brook couldn’t say if the family had sought Safe Nest’s services since the information is confidential, but said the organization is available to provide confidential shelter or provide a safety plan best suited for each situation, she said.

She called the slayings “heartbreaking” and likened them to a May 6 murder-suicide case in North Las Vegas.

A man, 40, with a protective order against him killed his 27-year-old girlfriend and wounded their 3-year-old daughter and 4-year-old son in front of a daycare center. The man killed himself. It wasn’t known if the children, who survived the gunshot wounds, were his intended targets.

This was not the case on Wednesday night.

According to Metro:

Shortly before 7 p.m. police received calls about a woman who was running through traffic near Torrey Pines Drive and Lake Mead Boulevard.

A good Samaritan picked her up and drove her to a nearby CVS pharmacy. Jason Dej-Oudom was following her in a black car and threatened the driver with a gun, dragged his wife to his car and headed east on Lake Mead. Phoukeo Dej-Oudom was partially hanging from a window.

At some point before reaching the Jones intersection, Phoukeo Dej-Oudom was able to exit the car and run. A bystander found her body minutes later.

About 8 p.m., a relative from Ohio contacted Las Vegas police saying Jason Dej-Oudom had called him saying he had done something wrong, describing him as suicidal and distraught.

Police were dispatched to the family’s apartment, 1900 Torrey Pines. Not able to contact anyone in the apartment, SWAT officers breached it and found four bodies in a bedroom.

It wasn’t immediately clear if the man killed his children before or after shooting his wife.

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