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September 06, 2018

Family of slain Manayunk girl to meet with Gov. Wolf about new custody laws

A new 'Dateline' report on the murder of Kayden Mancuso reveals a bevy of ignored warning signs

Investigations Murder
Police lights arrests crime Thom Carroll/PhillyVoice

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The family of a 7-year-old Manayunk girl who was murdered by her biological father last month is planning to meet with Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf’s office to push for a law that would focus on protecting children in acrimonious custody battles.

Kayden Mancuso was found dead in Manayunk on the morning of Aug. 6, along with her father, Jeffrey Mancuso, 41, who had committed an apparent suicide.

Details of the custody battle between Kathy Sherlock and Jeffrey Mancuso have emerged in a new story from "Dateline," which outlines Mancuso's numerous violent outbursts over a years-long period, and a criminal record, including assault charges across a number of states. 

Despite evidence that Jeffrey Mancuso posed a threat to people in his life, Sherlock said, Bucks County Common Pleas Court Judge Jeffrey Trauger failed to protect Sherlock and Kayden Mancuso from Jeffrey Mancuso, granting unsupervised visitations.

“[Trauger] protected his rights versus hers," Sherlock told "Dateline." 

"Essentially, [Jeffrey Mancuso’s] right to be a parent was more so important than [Kayden Mancuso’s] right to, essentially, live."

More than five years ago, Sherlock and Jeffrey Mancuso lived together in what is described as a platonic relationship after having Kayden Mancuso during a “fling,” and Sherlock alleged that Jeffrey Mancuso had a violent streak that included verbal and physical abuse.

At one point, Jeffrey Mancuso allegedly strangled Sherlock so hard that she she believed she was going to die.

Sherlock moved out of the house – for good – five years ago, when Jeffrey Mancuso was charged with assault for biting a man’s ear off during a bar fight.

She eventually fell in love with a man named Brian Sherlock, and started a family with him. When Jeffrey Mancuso noticed that his daughter, Kayden, was starting to enjoy her new family, Jeffrey Mancuso’s sister, Allyson Mancuso, told "Dateline" her brother spiraled out of control. He requested partial custody of Kayden, and a court battle turned into what Sherlock described as a “circus.”

According to Allyson Mancuso, Jeffrey Mancuso never had a character witness testify on his behalf.

“Not one person in his family could go in front of a judge…and say, ‘He’s a great father. He would never hurt his child,’” Allyson Mancuso told "Dateline."

In a court-ordered psychiatric evaluation, "Dateline" reported, Jeffrey Mancuso was diagnosed with “major depressive disorder, moderate with anxious disorder.”

Despite a custody evaluator recommending to the judge that Jeffrey Mancuso’s visitations should only be unsupervised if he received mental health treatment, "Dateline" reports the judge awarded Jeffrey Mancuso unsupervised visits with no mandatory mental health treatment.

The Sherlocks believe Trauger’s inability to notice the warning signs led to Kayden Mancuso’s death.

"Dateline" says the Sherlocks plan on meeting with Wolf’s office tomorrow, Sept. 7, to talk about what they’re calling “Kayden’s Law.”


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