RIVERSIDE, Calif. – A 10-year-old Riverside boy charged with fatally shooting his father, a California neo-Nazi leader Jeffrey R. Hall, had past problems with aggression and violence after being caught in the middle of a bitter divorce fraught with abuse allegations, court records show.
Legal experts said it was extraordinarily rare for such a young person to face a murder charge.
Investigators said the boy apparently retrieved a family handgun and shot his father about 4 a.m. Sunday on the living room couch.
“We believe it was an intentional act,” said Riverside police Lt. Ed. Blevins, “and we believe the 10-year-old was responsible.”
Detectives “received some statements” about a possible motive, Blevins said, but declined to elaborate because the underlying cause of the attack is still under investigation.
There were no reports of an argument or other incident preceding the shooting, and police have never responded to any domestic disturbance calls at the Hall residence, Blevins said. Hall, 32, and his wife have five children, with the two oldest from Hall’s previous marriage.
The boy is scheduled to appear before a Riverside County Juvenile Court judge today for a detention hearing. Both Blevins and the Riverside County district attorney’s office declined to identify the boy, citing legal protections for juveniles.
Hall was the Southwest leader of the National Socialist Movement, the nation’s largest neo-Nazi organization, and would often take his children to events, a colleague in the group said.
The accused boy’s biological mother, Leticia Neal of Spokane, on Tuesday said she had been pleading with the courts to grant her custody of their 10-year-old son and 9-year-old daughter after learning about her ex-husband’s neo-Nazi ties. Neal, during the divorce proceedings nearly a decade ago, accused Hall of abusing their two children, but the charges were never substantiated.
“All I can tell you is that I begged and begged them to please let me have full custody,” Neal said in a telephone interview.
Court records show that Hall had been granted full custody of his two children during their divorce. He had accused his ex-wife of abusing and neglecting their son and daughter during custody visits. But a Sept. 19, 2002, child protective services report filed in court stated that those allegations could not be substantiated.