SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) — More information has come to light regarding Parth Gandhi, the man police said killed his son, Om Moses Gandhi, and then himself over Mother’s Day weekend earlier this year.
Experts say warning signs were ignored.
Dozens of police reports regarding Parth Gandhi have been filed over the years, but only one body cam recording has ever been found. In this specific case, the officer closed the case as “unfounded.”
The body cam recording, captured in 2017 by the Salt Lake City Police Department, showed Gandhi saying he wanted to keep his kids away from the “chaos” between him and his ex-wife, Leah Moses.
Anne Blythe, an advocate and founder of Betrayal Trauma Recovery, has known Moses for years. Hearing this body cam footage made her feel hopeless.
“No matter how hard you try, no matter all of the things you do right, all the reporting everything that you do, that [the abuser] can just stand there calmly and laugh a little bit and get away with torturing people,” she said.
Video of custodial disputes
According to Salt Lake City Police documents, in 2017, Moses went to pick up her kids from school, but Gandhi showed up early and took them. SLCPD reported both Moses and the officer tried calling him, but neither could reach him or leave a voicemail.
Officers eventually located Gandhi and asked him if the incident was a disagreement or miscommunication. Gandhi responded, “I hope so.”
According to Blythe, abusers typically use coercive control to continue abusing their victims post-divorce. The goal of coercive control, she said, is to undermine the victim so the victim seems like part of the problem.
She believes that in this case, police officers gave Gandhi the words for a “perfect cover story,” rather than holding him accountable.
Despite Moses’s repeated attempts to get help from various state agencies, Blythe said Gandhi controlled the narrative that Moses was overreacting — something Gandhi also presented in custody court.
“Leah has used false allegations as a strategy to control custody,” Gandhi said at a custody proceeding in 2019. “I am flawed in many ways and I have apologized many times for the actions during our marriage, but I am and will always be a very good father.”
Moses spent nearly 14 years in custody court trying to protect her children from a man she knew was abusive. The body cam footage was the 18th report filed with SLCPD involving Gandhi. ABC4’s Justice Files managed to find at least 40 reports filed over the years with several different law enforcement agencies involving Gandhi, but no criminal charges were ever filed.
Blythe said it’s a tragedy that Om Moses Gandhi was murdered, but wants people to think about the years of abuse that Moses and her children endured.
Blythe is a survivor herself. She and Moses joined other advocates at the Utah State Capitol back in February demanding change and a law they believed could save lives — nearly three months before Gandhi murdered his 16-year-old son.
Kayden’s Law was created after Kathy Sherlock said the justice system failed her family.
Sherlock lost her daughter Kayden nearly five years ago when her judge granted her ex, Kayden’s father, unsupervised visits — despite his history of assault charges. He murdered the seven-year-old by hitting her over the head with a dumbbell multiple times.
Sherlock believes that if she had one person who listened to her, “maybe something would have changed.”
Kayden’s story helped create the Keeping Children Safe From Family Violence Act, also known as Kayden’s Law.
It provides federal money to states that implement several safety measures, such as requiring more training for people within the court system, as well as those who testify as experts in custody cases.
Sherlock believes that children’s safety and best interest should be everyone’s first priority — not just in custody cases.
Now, Sen. Todd Weiler is working on legislation to bring Kayden’s Law to Utah. He said he’s planning on presenting it during the next legislative session.
What did SLCPD know?
According to SLCPD, Moses was concerned Gandhi had taken the kids and left the state. The body cam footage showed an officer going to Gandhi’s home to “make sure the kids were okay,” according to the officer, at Moses’s request.
SLCPD would not confirm if that officer ever checked in with the children.
The officer’s follow-up report stated that the parents had differences of opinion on visitation, writing that it seemed like Moses “made it a bigger deal than necessary.”
SLCPD declined the Justice Files’ request for an interview. Instead, Communications Director Brent Weisberg provided the following statement:
“Helping to ensure the safety of victims, children, and other individuals remains at the forefront of the work we do. Speaking generally, investigations into domestic violence and custodial disputes can be complex and challenging due to various factors. These investigations require a delicate balance of ensuring the safety of all parties involved while gathering evidence and conducting a thorough examination of the situation. However, officers with the Salt Lake City Police Department are trained to handle the complexities in any case. By working in partnership with community-based stakeholders, including our own social workers and victim advocates, our officers can effectively navigate challenges and provide comprehensive support to those affected by these types of investigations.”
The Justice Files also obtained two concerning reports filed with SLCPD by women against Gandhi in the year leading up to the murder. This included a woman who told SLCPD in February that Gandhi raped her, but officers never followed up with him. According to that police report, the next interview was a follow-up with the victim on May 15th, two days after Gandhi killed his son and then himself. The case was closed.
When asked why the police never followed up with Gandhi, SLCPD told the Justice Files they did not have enough information to move forward.