Divorce documents show earlier claims suspect killed child

Christopher Ripley
Christopher Ripley

Court documents portrayed a tumultuous relationship between Amanda Crews and her ex-husband, Timothy Ripley that included allegations against the man now charged with murdering their son.

While they agreed to settle their divorce to “get on” with their lives, their relationship worsened when their 2-year-old son, Christopher Ripley, died suddenly on Oct. 2, 2014. Martin Martinez, Crews’ boyfriend, has been arrested in that case. Martinez also is the prime suspect in the deaths of Crews, another woman and three children.

Attempts by The Modesto Bee to speak to Ripley Monday at his Modesto home were not successful. Neighbors at the apartment complex said Ripley lived there, but he was not at home. Nobody answered his door Monday.

Crews and Ripley’s divorce was finalized the same month their son unexpectedly died. But Crews filed documents a month later that claimed Ripley was a bad father who was traumatizing their 6-year-old daughter, Elizabeth Ripley.

Crews said in the court documents that Elizabeth was having a tough time dealing with her brother’s death. “They were close and each other’s best friends,” their mother said.

The little girl had responded well to counseling. Crews said Ripley chose not to join his daughter in counseling; instead he chose to “negatively interact with Elizabeth,” according to the court documents filed Nov. 13, 2014.

Ripley told Elizabeth that Crews’ boyfriend, presumably Martinez, killed Christopher, according to Crews’ statements to the family court judge. The mother also said that Ripley told Elizabeth that Crews’ boyfriend was going to prison for the rest of his life.

Crews told the court that her daughter had grown close to her boyfriend, and Ripley’s ideas that he “implanted” in his daughter were causing the girl to have nightmares and exhibit negative behavior.

The documents indicate that Crews asked Ripley to attend mediation hearings or counseling sessions to deal with his anger issues, but Ripley refused.

Their divorce, before Christopher’s death, had been fairly amicable. Ripley had not contested the divorce, and he never hired an attorney to legally represent him.

Crews and Ripley were married on June 9, 2006, and they separated on Jan. 30, 2014. A month later, Crews had hired an attorney and filed for divorce.

The parents ultimately agreed to joint custody, with Ripley having visitation rights on alternate weekends. Ripley was ordered to pay for child support. Court documents indicated he had received an inheritance and that’s how he supported himself. He lived in an Oakdale Road apartment in Modesto, and there was no indication he was employed.

In her November 2014 statement to the family court judge, Crews said Ripley was a chronic drug user for years. Crews claimed that Ripley was not able to pass a drug test.

Crews had not mentioned Ripley’s alleged drug use before in the divorce proceedings. She told the court that she now had a different perspective based on Ripley’s “irrational and cruel behavior” toward his daughter.

The mother said Ripley would often return Elizabeth and Christopher dirty and hungry. She also said that Ripley once let Christopher run through a busy shopping center parking lot. Crews claimed that some of Ripley’s relatives said they feared his parenting skills.

On Oct. 5, 2014, Elizabeth was left unattended by an adult in the common area of Ripley’s apartment complex waiting for her mother to pick her up, according to Crews. That alleged incident occurred three days after Elizabeth’s little brother had died.

Crews claimed that Ripley’s previous wife had sought a restraining order against him, citing domestic violence. Ripley had two children with his previous wife. Crews told the court that Ripley’s daughter alleged that her father had hit her mother and her brother.

Crews said she had not witnessed Ripley hit their children. At that point, she was asking the court to order Ripley to only have supervised visits with his daughter. Crews offered to pay for the costs of supervision.

The court’s joint custody ordered was strengthened soon after to include language that warned the parents not to behave in an adverse manner that would harm the child’s development of love for both parents. After December 2014, Crews did not file any other requests in this family court case.

Rosalio Ahumada: 209-578-2394, @ModBeeCourts

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