Minnesota mother murders child in bitter custody battle

family life

A Minnesota mother found dead with her five year-old son left a suicide note referring to a bitter custody battle with the boy’s father.

Police discovered the bodies of the 46 year-old and her son in the basement of her home in the central city of Orono, on the shores of Lake Minnetonka. Gina Summers had killed her son Jude and then taken her own life, the Star Tribune reports.

The Police had been alerted by the boy’s father after he had been unable to reach her to arrange a time to pick up his son. He and the mother had shared care – or ‘joint custody’ as it is known in the United States.

The mother’s typewritten suicide note claimed joint custody amounted to “allowing a child to be ripped from his mother” and repeated earlier claims that her former partner had been abusive.

The distraught father, Jeff Sandberg, lamented the sudden loss of his son. Only the previous week he had taken him fishing, he explained, but now he was “planning the funeral for Jude, murdered by his mother, Gina Summers, when he was getting ready for his first day of Ready Start Kindergarten.”

He vehemently denied the mother’s claims of abuse, saying that:

“…since the onset of the case in January 2015 when [Summers] falsely accused the father of domestic abuse, [she] never missed an opportunity to disrupt the established father-son relationship, both inside and outside of the Family Court paternity proceedings.”

She had harassed him for more than two years, he continued, with:

“…her actions and inactions, including her scheduling of multiple motions before the court, not only before but also after the trial, and subsequently to the Court of Appeals, and her absolute refusal to participate in ordered mediation.”

Jude was born in August 2012 after Summers, a ‘realtor’ (real estate agent) had undergone fertility treatment. She and Mr Sandberg had been in a relationship since 2008 but by 2015 she had taken out the US equivalent of a non-molestation order against him.

Court records include a preschool teacher’s report. Jude was described as:

“…doing great in class! He is such a smiley and loving boy!”

Photo of Lake Minnetonka by edkohler via Wikipedia under a Creative Commons licence

Stowe Family Law Web Team

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Dr. Manhattan - September 8, 2017 at 3:02pm

this is such a harrowing case. the Father must be absolutely heartbroken.
without doubt this was a very selfish act by the mother.
i would imagine most people who know her would spit on her grave for such a despicable act.

Paul - September 8, 2017 at 3:11pm

Devostating effects of a Alienator. Ultimatly why we need to be so vigilant in dealing with alienation. Unfortuatly ‘infanticide’ is part of nature. Clearly sadly part of human nature. Some people if pushed to extreames will act like lions. Killing their own litter. Rather than be parted from them. The orders and court orders aimed at men ‘nonmols’ ect are never used against women which could prevent sitiations like this because men are simply not beleived.
I think everyone who goes through family court proccedure should recieve counciling and help to come to terms with the decission. Who knows what is going through peoples minds when faced with a decission which will part them from their children.
Even now I struggle to deal with been stopped from seeing my children. I don’t accept that I have done anything wrong to warrent been sepperated. An I still wish to keep fighting this rediculous system.
If you wonder why I comment so frequently. Then maybe that is why.

Jo Archer - September 8, 2017 at 4:19pm

What this woman must have been going through to resort to such a desperate act.

Paul - September 9, 2017 at 7:49pm

Not many would look at this situation and say poor woman. But you are right. She has been through alot. The man has been through alot and tragically this time the mother broke down first. So many times this has also happened the other way. This man – woman and child needed support and help not courts orders and legal intervention. To my mind the legal proccess we have in place have killed this woman and child and devostated this family. Two familys.
No doubt soliciters, courts and judges involved with this case have earned big salerys and walked away never having to think about this tragic situation again. Two familys can’t do that.
To my mind blocking contact should never be an option. The extremes of the verdicts in family cases are simply ‘too extreme’ they are given no counciling or help to come to terms with the court decission.This drives people to extremes. Soliciters encouraging each side to escalate their behaviour throw accusations and vitriol at each other is like pouring water on a chip pan fire. Its totally the opposite of what is requiresd to sort out contact. Its the wrong approach.
The system we have is wrong.
Other systems modernise and change. Why do we cling onto a system which regularly results in such tragidy ?

Paul - September 11, 2017 at 2:27pm


An appropriate place for this. It won’t comfort many who have experienced family court procceedingd to know the awful CAFCAS organisation are looking into it.
So far no mention of ‘family courts’ getting decissions whaofully wrong or make terrible bias decissions.
Wonder if they will investigate that as a possible cause.

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