LONG ISLAND, NY (PIX11) — A Long Island mother whose 2-year-old daughter was murdered six years ago during a court-ordered visit with the child’s father applauded Gov. Kathy Hochul’s signature on a new, Family Court law over Christmas weekend.
“This is a landmark law,” Jacqueline Franchetti told PIX11 News. “For this to happen in New York State is a huge leap forward.”
The law contains strict rules for the hiring of forensic, child custody evaluators—the people who interview parents and children and then make recommendations to a judge. It calls for biannual training in child abuse, family violence, and trauma.
Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz of the 81st District pushed the bill through the New York legislature after he was moved by Franchetti’s testimony before a state committee several years ago.
“When she told me her story, I could almost cry,” Dinowitz said. “Unfortunately, we’ve seen too many cases in recent years where bad decisions were made by a judge, and we want to avoid that.”
In the last six years, at least 23 children have been killed by a parent during family court disputes.
Franchetti actually spearheaded efforts to get the law passed, not long after receiving the numbing news in July 2016 that her toddler, Kyra Franchetti—just 28 months old—had been fatally shot while she slept, during a weekend visit with her father Roy Rumsey in Fairfax County, Virginia,
After the dad killed his little girl, he set the house on fire and perished with his daughter.
Jacqueline Franchetti said a forensic evaluator in her daughter’s case, who had a PhD., heard testimony Rumsey had abused Kyra’s mother during pregnancy.
“He heard from eyewitnesses of the abuse,” Franchetti recalled. “He knew about Kyra’s father’s anger and rage issues and knew he was suicidal. Plus, he had purchased not one but two guns.”
Franchetti said, despite this, the evaluator recommended joint custody and wrote that Kyra’s father should always play a role in her life.
“Well, he did play a huge role in her life,” Franchetti observed of Rumsey on Monday. “He killed her.”
Jacqueline Franchetti turned her pain into advocacy and reached out to other parents who lost a child to murder in family court battles.
One of the women she met was Cherone Coleman. Coleman’s 3-year-old daughter, who went by her middle name, Autumn, was chained to the back seat of a car by her father, Martin Anthony Pereira, and set on fire, as a weekend visit finished up in 2019.
Coleman attended one of Franchetti’s rallies outside Nassau County Family Court in August, concerned that reform wasn’t coming fast enough.
“And it upsets me,” Coleman said to PIX11 News at the time. “There are going to be more moms and more children that are going to go though this.”
Dinowitz felt he had to keep fighting to get the family court law passed, because of Franchetti’s pain—and passion for her cause.
“She took the most horrible tragedy any human being could suffer,” Dinowitz said, “and she turned it into something to help other people.”