Maria Darlene Gardner
Maria Darlene Gardner (AKA Maria Joseph) has not been having a good year. Her husband, Simeon Joseph, Jr. committed suicide by shooting himself in the head as he lay next to her in October of 2008. This princess had five young children and it must have been more than she could handle in her grieving state. Sure, wrangling five young children can be about as easy as herding chickens at times, but you don’t flambé the children because you are tired of them or want to send them to heaven. On January 28, 2008, while the four oldest children slept in her bed and the youngest child, 16-month-old Ashia, slept in her crib, this mom of the year poured gasoline around the bed and crib of her children and over their bodies, before setting it on fire.
That’s right, this gene pool winner poured gasoline on her sleeping children and then set them on fire. During a 911 call, a child can be heard screaming, “Why did you? . . . You killed them. Why did you kill them. I loved them.” The child was later identified as an 8-year-old boy, who went on to tell the 911 operators that “We were asleep. She dumped some oil on the ground and started it on fire.” And even though Gardner claimed to want to commit suicide, after setting the fire, she ran from the home, away from the fire and her burning children.
Take a look at Maria Darlene Gardner’s arrest affidavit (This is tough stuff, so be prepared – I cried for a long time)
Sadly, little Ashia did not survive the fire. She died of smoke inhalation and burns. The other four children suffered burns ranging in severity from second-degree burns to third degree burns over 80% of their bodies. They will endure years of painful skin grafts, physical therapy and most scarring of all, the knowledge that their scarred little bodies are the result of their mother’s actions.
The saddest part is that Maria Gardner had shown signs of mental deterioration from the time that her husband committed suicide until the night of the fire. To say that she did not handle the loss of her husband well would be an understatement. Colorado Springs detective Mareshah Hale testified that Gardner asked the funeral home after Joseph’s funeral if “the body could be preserved and stuffed.” “She said she would love to have him sit on the couch and have him hang out with her,” Detective Hale testified. Gardner would also leave notes at Joseph’s grave asking him to “wait for them.” Why wasn’t she reported to authorities as a danger to herself and her children before she tried to burn them?
In January, Gardner reached a plea deal for one count of fatal child abuse, and four counts of child abuse. At her sentencing hearing, a therapist read letters from two of her children. They wrote, “Tell my mom to be nice to us next time. If I see you again, please don’t hurt us.” And, “I want my mom in jail for 87 years. What she did was not nice, and she killed someone.” She was sentenced on February 20, 2009 to 85 years in prison. Gardner’s sister stated after the sentencing that she wished she had helped Gardner with her emotional problems sooner. Duh.
Editor’s Notes: The man with the dreadlocks pictured in the article is the late Simeon Joseph Jr, the father of the five children.
I just have a couple of things to add to the story.
I’d like to share some of the testimony of Stacy Braun, the psychologist who is counseling two of the children. She was a witness during Gardner’s presentencing hearing.
“Supreme in the beginning wanted to talk, talk, talk and tell the story over and over. After about a month, he shut down. It’s too painful for him – you can see it in his face,” Braun said.
Domenic believes the fire was his fault and “takes responsibility for the death of his baby sister.” He also has a bright scar across the length of his neck where his mother slashed him.
“He feels isolated and different.”
Supreme wrote a letter to the judge, which was read in court by Ms. Braun.
“…tell my mom to be nice to us next time. If I ever get to see you again, please don’t hurt me.”
Domenic also wrote a letter to the judge:
“I’m sad my sister is not with me. My right arm hurts and people look at me because I’m different.”
“I have nightmares almost every night and am afraid of the dark,” he wrote. “I’m scared my mom might come and do it again.”
What more can I add to that?
Does Maria Darlene Gardner Deserve Hell? Total Voters: 251
Does Maria Darlene Gardner Deserve Hell?
Total Voters: 251
59 Comments »