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Spitz has a very specific concern about the degree of Lynn's future contact with their son, who's now seven years old. CMHIP program directors have supported her efforts to resume "her role as a parent," despite the fact that she admitted to Miller and others that she'd had "bad thoughts" about hurting Lee, too. A few weeks before the shootings, she'd even contemplated drowning him, an incident Spitz didn't find out about until many months later.
"She'd been giving him a bath, and she let him slip under the water," Spitz says. "I'm not clear on what happened next. Teresa told me that my mom asked from another room if she needed any help, and it startled her. She also said the baby was smiling from the water because he thought she was playing. Then she pulled him out."
Lynn has had several visits a year with Lee, either in the hospital or on trips to the Denver area, accompanied by a hospital staffer. She has never been left alone with him. Spitz says he's raised concerns about Lee's safety with his guardians, to no avail: "They say it wasn't a deliberate effort, she's never alone with him, she's in a controlled environment. They pretty much blew it off."
But Don Reynolds, Lee's guardian, says he's seen nothing in Lynn's interactions with her son that would contradict the positive review of her from her treatment team. "I talk to her and her therapists regularly," he says. "When someone is doing everything they can do to get better, I think they should be able to take that next step. Is it too soon? I don't know. It's not up to me to be the judge on that."
Spitz himself has been denied any access to his son since last spring. After the trial, he saw Lee regularly and often had him for an entire weekend. But his relationship with Don and Sheila Reynolds has become strained, with disagreements over whether he can provide a "suitable environment" for his son. Spitz sought to terminate the guardianship at one point, arguing that he was capable of raising his son himself, but the judge rejected the motion. Then Spitz's visits were cut off entirely, based on a therapist's recommendation that the move would be in the best interest of his son.
"I was told he was having difficulty transitioning between us," Spitz says. "When he's with me, he's great. But they say he's throwing tantrums when he gets back to them."
Reynolds declined to comment on Spitz's version of the dispute. His attorney, Bonnie Saltzman, declines to go into specifics but insists that the guardians have legitimate "safety, health and welfare concerns" about the environment Spitz provides for his son. "They're not insurmountable," she says. "We know that Mr. Spitz loves this child dearly." The two sides are in discussions now and hope to resolve the situation, she adds.
Spitz is frustrated that the therapist never bothered to observe or evaluate his interactions with Lee. People who have spent time with the two of them describe Spitz as a doting father and say Lee thrives with him, taking his blindness in stride and eagerly guiding him at the mall.
"I find the guy kind of remarkable," says Roger Primm, an RTD bus driver who befriended Spitz at church. "He's good with his son, and he has a good attitude about life — especially the hand that he's been dealt. He's a good Marine."
"I don't see anything wrong with him raising his own child," says Benjamin Spitz, the youngest son from Spitz's first marriage, now a Marine staff sergeant who's seen three tours in Iraq. "I really look up to my father. He's given me a lot of learning points. Being with him and [Lee] when I'm on leave has really been something to look forward to."
But in his battle to reunite with his son, Spitz has had to contend not only with opposition from the guardians, but an unexpected volley from his ex. At a hearing last May, Lynn announced that she was concerned that Spitz (the man she tried to kill) might harm Lee (the son she tried to drown) in the future.
"Teresa stood up in court and accused me of being a child molester," he says. The allegation apparently stemmed from an e-mail exchange the two had had, in which Spitz wrote something about how he was so lonely he might be reduced to cruising nursing homes or buying an "underage girl" in Latin America — some off-color joking around, Spitz says, that wasn't unusual in their communications.
The accusation didn't go anywhere, but it was the last straw for Spitz. He now keeps his contact with Lynn to a minimum. "What I've seen over the last six years is that she's totally focused on herself," he says. "She wants her freedom. She really thinks she's going to be back in our son's life. But she's been so vindictive and dishonest. She's been working very hard against me, and she's never defended me when I needed her."
Spitz has hired a new attorney and is seeking to resume visits with his son. It's all he cares about now.