Nation/World

Sobbing Dad: `My Family Was My World’ But Fleming Has Been Convicted At Least Twice Of Spousal Abuse, Police Say

A sobbing father said Wednesday he doesn’t know why his wife apparently threw their two boys off a river bridge - drowning one - and then jumped herself.

“I don’t know why it happened,” Michael Fleming told reporters at St. Mary Medical Center, where his surviving son remained in critical condition.

“My family was my world, and it’s a shock. There’s no way to express it,” he said, reading a statement and refusing to take questions.

Police said he has a record of spousal abuse.

According to police, a witness saw Donna Jean Fleming, 23, drop the boys off the Ocean Boulevard bridge into the Los Angeles River on Tuesday, her husband’s 37th birthday.

Craig Alan Fleming, 22 months, drowned, and 3-yearold Michael Robert Fleming Jr. was unconscious when rescued.

Dr. William Perkins, St. Mary’s medical director of pediatric intensive care, said Michael Jr. had a very good chance for a full recovery.

The boy suffered hypothermia and pneumonia and was breathing with the aid of a ventilator, which prevented him from talking, Perkins said.Fleming said he was donating a heart valve from his dead son for organ transplants.

Mrs. Fleming was held without bail in a jail ward at County-USC Medical Center in Los Angeles, where she was undergoing psychiatric evaluation.

She was booked for investigation of murder and attempted murder and was expected to be arraigned today in Municipal Court, said police spokeswoman Karen Kerr.

Neighbors of the Flemings in San Pedro said the couple sometimes had noisy, violent fights, and that Mrs. Fleming seemed depressed.

“Donna’s been crying out for help for a long time,” said Kay Kender, a friend of Mrs. Fleming’s mother. “She told her husband and her mother that she didn’t want the kids.”

Fleming was convicted at least twice in the past 13 months for beating his wife, Los Angeles police said. Police were called to the house at least six times, most recently Jan. 12, Detective Dick Simmons said.



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