COUNTYWIDE : Father Takes Boy, 3 in Freeway Slaying
Three-year-old Andre Keith Bakker IV, who witnessed the weekend shooting death of his mother and watched her boyfriend turn the gun on himself as they drove down the San Diego Freeway, was released Monday from an Orange County children’s shelter to the custody of his father.
The boy “is aware that his mother is dead,” said Kim Berry, a friend of the family. “But he just says that ‘Mommy’s in heaven.’ ”
Young Andre is described as a “precocious but mature” toddler, but relatives and officials at Orange County Children’s Services remain concerned that he may suffer psychological trauma from the weekend ordeal.
A California Highway Patrol officer found the boy in a back seat of his mother’s car after she had been shot repeatedly by George Charles Woodford III, 28, on Saturday night. The mother, Audrey Denise Davis, 33, died from bullet wounds to her head and body. Woodford, who had been arguing with Davis, then shot himself in the head.
The car continued down the freeway out of control, finally grinding to a halt in the southbound car-pool lane north of the Springdale Street exit in Westminster.
Eugene Howard, Children’s Services director, said that releasing the boy to the custody of his father, Andre Bakker III, of Los Angeles, was the “best thing” to do for Andre. Bakker could not be reached for comment Monday.
“The father has had regular contact with the boy and has visits every other week. The child knew him and called him ‘Dad’ and obviously showed very appropriate reaction to his father,” Howard said.
Authorities initially believed that Bakker did not play an active role in young Andre’s upbringing, but they found otherwise after conducting a background check, Howard said.
“Obviously, this man had been involved with the child,” Howard said, describing a warm reunion between Andre and his father at Orangewood Children’s Home in Orange.
Police continued to puzzle Monday over exactly what motivated Woodford, a self-employed car detailer, to fire the fatal gunshots.
But the dead woman’s family described Woodford as “extremely possessive” and jealous of Audrey Davis.
A native of Kentucky, Woodford met Davis while she was buying a car. Davis became the registered owner of a 1976 AMC Pacer, the vehicle in which the murder-suicide occurred Saturday, according to the state Department of Motor Vehicles. Woodford moved into her Long Beach home just four months ago.
Westminster police consider their investigation of the tragedy almost concluded, Lt. Andrew Hall said. Police do not know how and when Woodford got his hands on the weapon used.
Audrey Davis told her family that Woodford owned a gun but had hocked it for cash from a pawnbroker, said Berry, the girlfriend of Davis’ brother, Vincent Jackson.
Woodford, Audrey Davis and young Andre were on the way to the home of the boy’s grandmother when the tragedy occurred Saturday night. Audrey Davis’ other son, 13-year-old Frankie, was being tended by Berry and Vincent Jackson.
If the other youngster had been along, the episode might not have exploded out of control, Berry said.
“Frankie didn’t want to go to his grandmother’s house, so Audrey and George left him with us,” Berry said. “Had he been with them, maybe he would have prevented it or stopped it because he’s a very big 13-year-old.”