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‘I don’t want them anymore,’ mother told Miami cops. They found her kids, 3 and 5, dead.

Miami Herald logo Miami Herald 4/14/2022 Charles Rabin, David Ovalle, Miami Herald

Odette Joassaint called 911 repeatedly, sounding agitated and incoherent, unable to explain why she was calling. It became horribly clear when Miami police officers arrived. “Come get them, I don’t want them anymore,” she told officers, according to a police report.

When police rushed inside her Little River apartment Tuesday night, they found Joassaint’s own children — Jeffrey and Laural Belval, just 3 and 5 years old — hog-tied and strangled. The heart-breaking discovery shook even veteran officers and homicide detectives.

By Wednesday, Joassaint, 41, had been charged with two counts of first-degree murder and had been ordered held without bond in her first appearance in Miami-Dade Court. Joassaint, who wore a padded gown designed to prevent suicide, said nothing during the brief proceeding.

But according to Miami police reports she told detectives hours after the killings Tuesday night that she had been struggling financially and her “kids were suffering and that they would suffer less if they were dead,” according to a police report.

Frantzy Belval, the father of both children but estranged from Joassaint, painted a picture of an unstable mother who had not worked for a year, and had been begging to move back in with him. He said he’d consistently refused.

“I told her, ‘You are crazy. You create too much problems,’” Belval said in an interview with the Miami Herald..

The grieving Belval said the children lived with Joassaint full time, although they would normally visit him once a week on Saturdays. “They loved me so much,” he said. “Every week, I buy clothes for the kids.”

Public records show that Joassaint’s life had been in turmoil.

She’d gone through a series of nasty domestic spats with Belval. Each parent had been jailed at least once on allegations of domestic violence, and over the years they’d come to the attention of Florida’s child welfare agency, the Florida Department of Children and Families.

The exact scope of the agency’s involvement with the family was not clear on Wednesday. DCF, citing a confidentiality law, declined to provide more information on the family.

“The events that unfolded yesterday in this home are devastating. The Department is working closely with law enforcement to uncover the circumstances that caused the tragic and untimely death of these two children,” the agency said in a statement. “We have launched a full investigation and will provide updates regularly and publicly.”

It was Joassaint’s own 911 call that brought Miami police to her apartment home on the 100 block of Northeast 75th Street.

“She was having a mental crisis and was irate,” said Miami Police Spokesman Michael Vega, describing the disturbing call. The scene inside the Little River apartment was gut-wrenching: two kids, laying in bed face-down on a bed, hands, feet and necks bound together. According to the police report, Joassaint said she strangled each child with a red ribbon. Officers and Miami Fire Rescue tried desperately to resuscitate the children.

During hours of questioning, the distraught Jossaint ultimately confessed, police said. An appointed public defender could not be reached for comment.

The children’s father told The Herald that Joassaint had lost custody of a third child, a 14-year-old girl, a claim that could not immediately be verified.

The couple had come to the attention of police and state child-welfare authorities in the past. In March, Belval said, the police were called to her apartment when they got into an argument in front of the children. No one was arrested.

In 2017, Joassaint was arrested for misdemeanor battery in Homestead after police said she got into a heated argument with Belval over money. She’d bitten Belval, leaving teeth marks on his arm, and was “the primary aggressor,” according to a police report. Prosecutors wound up dropping the case.

Two years later, when Joassaint was pregnant with their youngest, Belval was arrested in North Miami Beach on a charge of aggravated battery. He was accused of striking Joassaint — who sported a swollen eye and small cut on her lip — during an argument over her being on the phone too long.

Joassaint, however, refused to give a statement to the police. Prosecutors did not press the charge.

She did, however, go to family court to get a restraining order, alleging multiple instances of abuse. Among the allegations: that he threatened to pour boiling water on her, and “brandished” his gun and threatened to shoot her.

A permanent injunction was issued, but later withdrawn after Joassaint wrote the court saying they wished to “reconcile for our children’s well being.”

Her petition also noted that the DCF “[has] gotten involved in the past.”

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