Meridian Deputy Chief gives update on shooting/standoff
As early as March 2018, Heidi De Leon was concerned enough about the threat her ex-husband posed to her and their daughters that she contacted authorities, the Meridian Police Department told the Statesman on Wednesday.
In December, officers were dispatched to the Meridian home De Leon shared with her new husband, Jose “Joe” De Leon, regarding threats allegedly made by Edward Epps. And on Dec. 29, when Epps showed up at the West Charles Street house for his regular visitation, officers told Epps that his two daughters would not be joining him, and escorted him from the property, according to Meridian Deputy Police Chief Tracy Basterrechea.
Epps eventually was served with a civil protection order last Saturday night; on Sunday at about 3 p.m., he stormed into the De Leons’ home armed with two handguns. He killed both Joe and Heidi De Leon, shooting each of them multiple times, and later killed himself.
On Tuesday, a woman who leads an online support group shared that Heidi De Leon had shown her a journal entry from one of De Leon’s daughters outlining a violent threat made by Epps — one that mirrored the double homicide-suicide that occurred.
“In December, Heidi submitted a journal entry from her little girl discussing her dad’s threats to kill Heidi, and she was finally successful in obtaining a restraining order,” Tina Swithin, leader of the online support group One Mom’s Battle, wrote in a Facebook post. “I have her daughter’s journal entry, and it will forever haunt me.”
Swithin shared a copy of the entry with the Statesman. Swithin, whose One Mom’s Battle supports people in problematic divorces and custody disputes, said she had received an email from Heidi on Dec. 27. In that email, De Leon wrote, “I am needing to get a protective order. I have tried 2 times in the past, but it has failed both times. “
Heidi De Leon included a chilling entry, dated Dec. 12, in which one of her children wrote that Edward Epps had said he would kill Heidi and her new husband, and then himself, if he lost a dispute over child support in court.
Basterrechea said his department learned of the journal entry after the shooting occurred. He said in the news release Wednesday that on Dec. 28, when Meridian officers were dispatched to the Charles Street house, they referred the De Leon family to the Ada County Sheriff’s Office because Epps’ threats would be under county jurisdiction, since he was a Boise resident.
Last Saturday, it was Ada County deputies who served the protection order to Epps. The Statesman attempted to get a copy of it from the courts, but the document is sealed.
Police said in a news release Monday that Epps first killed his ex-wife’s husband, who tried to stop Epps while Heidi De Leon ran toward the back of the house. After fatally shooting Joe De Leon, Epps forced his way into a back bedroom and gunned down Heidi.
The 13-year-old daughter of Heidi De Leon and Epps escaped the home and went to a neighbor’s house for help. Police arrived and were able to negotiate the release of two more children, ages 10 and 11 — one the 13-year-old’s sister and the other Joe De Leon’s daughter.
Basterrechea said in the Meridian Police Department release that when Heidi De Leon first met with an officer last March, the police could not substantiate a crime and referred her to seek a protection order and an amended child custody order.
Swithin, an author living in California who runs the One Mom’s Battle page, told the Statesman in an email that Heidi De Leon had been part of her group for several years.
The local Domestic Violence Hotline is available at 208-343-7025 through the Boise Women’s and Children’s Alliance.
Faces of Hope in Boise also provides services and advice for domestic violence victims and their families. Call 208-577-4400 or go to facesofhopevictimcenter.org.
The National Domestic Violence Hotline can be reached at 1-800-799-7233.