WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (CN) – A Florida man claims in court that a 2015 massacre in which his 7-year-old son was killed by his grandmother could have been prevented if police had complied with a request to do a “wellness check” the day before the murder.
Derek Neff sued the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office and the City of Greenacres on June 15, claiming local law enforcement shrugged him off after he asked them to check on his son Xavier the day before the killing.
He says that on June 26, 2015, he was worried because the mother, with whom he shared custody, had not shown up at the scheduled time to drop off Xavier.
Neff says he communicated with the sheriff’s office and the Greenacres Police Department and asked whether one or both of them would drive by the duplex where the mother resided, to make sure Xavier was alright.
Greenacres police declined to do the checkup, and the sheriff’s office indicated the matter did not fall under its jurisdiction, Neff claims.
The next day, the lawsuit says, the 7-year-old boy was fatally shot by his grandmother Nilda Sheffield.
Sheffield, a hospital EKG technician, allegedly murdered Xavier, her two-year-old granddaughter Sofia and the children’s mother Elizabeth Flores in their Greenacres residence before committing suicide.
Sofia was found dead, nuzzled against Sheffield’s body on a small trampoline in the family’s living room. Xavier was curled up, covered in blood under the dining room table.
Police say they discovered a journal entry written by Sheffield, which states, “Xavier is the sacrificial lamb. From day one I knew he came with a mission. I will free him from the hell he did not ask to be born into and I pray to god he returns to a better world with better parents.
“Don’t be sad for me. Think of me as if I was away on vacation certain to be reunited with all of you soon. It is time for my next journey, my next life. … Xavier and I will walk together hand and hand and again I will let go of him when he is ready for his next journey,” the journal entry reads, according to police.
A sheriff’s chaplain stated in the police report that Sheffield had “delved into the Christian faith as well as other religions which included teachings concerning ‘reincarnation.'” The chaplain said that “due to the lack of proper spiritual guidance and insight, she was consumed into an abyss of confusion and desperation.”
Palm Beach County court records indicate that prior to the shooting, Flores was often surrounded by domestic turmoil. She was the purported victim of physical abuse at the hands of her boyfriend, David Chiddo, who was arrested in 2013 on charges that he struck Flores and threw her to the ground.
Flores had sparred in court with Neff over custody of Xavier, and in the weeks leading up to the massacre, she unsuccessfully pursued a restraining order against Neff’s wife for allegedly injuring her with a car door, according to court records.
On the day before the murder, Neff wanted to have a sheriff’s deputy present for the scheduled dropoff, as he feared another altercation might transpire with Flores, the police report says.
Sheffield was not listed as a defendant or respondent in the Palm Beach domestic relations cases involving Flores.
When asked for a response to Neff’s lawsuit, a spokesman for the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office said PBSO does not comment on active litigation.
The City of Greenacres meanwhile has not responded to calls.
In early 2016, the sheriff’s office took over Greenacres police services under a contract with the city.
Neff is represented by Lionel Plasencia in West Palm Beach.