LOWELL TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — A man believed to have shot and killed his young son before turning the gun on himself had made previous threats of murder-suicide, the child’s mother alleged in court documents earlier this year.
The bodies of 3-year-old Dylan Thebo and his father Derek Thebo, 32, were found Wednesday evening in a home on Barnsley Road near Cumberland Avenue west of Lowell when deputies went there on a welfare check. Authorities say Dylan was shot and killed and that Derek Thebo shot and killed himself.
Dylan’s mother and Derek Thebo were in the process of divorcing. In March, she filed for a personal protection order against him, alleging he had threatened to kill her, her children and himself.
She told the court that Derek Thebo, to whom she had been married about four years, “started getting physical” with her when she was pregnant, on one occasion shoving her.
“One time we were having a conversation about a news story where a woman drove her car off a bridge killing her and her children,” the PPO request continues. “He said something about the woman was probably trying to save them from something worse or protecting them from someone else. This led to him threatening that if I ever left him that he would protect his son from whatever I might expose him to outside of our marriage. To me this was a threat to kill our son if I ever left him. He would repeat this threat when we would get into an argument and I would leave.”
In April 2020, she said, he hit her daughter from a previous relationship. She “intervened” and hustled the children out of the house, at which point “he yelled .. that my ‘fate was sealed,'” she said.
“To me this meant he was going to try to hurt me or the children,” the PPO request reads.
She said she called police and was referred to Children’s Protective Services, but she said she was afraid of what her husband might do, so she “explained away” what had happened.
“He was threatening to take out (kill) all of us and himself,” she wrote.
‘HE THREATENED TO KILL ME, MY CHILDREN … AND COMMIT SUICIDE’
Things got worse, she said, when Derek Thebo quit his job in January of this year: He was meaner and angrier and stressed about a job he had applied for.
“He kept talking about how depressed he was and how he didn’t know if he could go on if he didn’t get this job. He threatened to kill me, my children, and my family and to commit suicide afterwards,” she wrote. “He specifically mentioned that he would ‘save her [my daughter] for last.'”
In February, she left him after a phone call that worried her. She said she knew he was supposed to have been hearing back about the job and sounded angry.
“I was concerned to be alone with our children and him,” she wrote.
While she said she still felt threatened by him, she did want her son to be able to speak to his father on the phone. The PPO, when granted on March 8, allowed a single call per day.
The PPO was terminated March 22 after Derek Thebo and his wife reached an agreement for a mutual restraining order. By that point, according to court documents filed by his attorneys, he had gotten a job as a security guard at a local hospital, though it doesn’t state which one.
In that response, Thebo also denied abusing his wife or threatening to harm her or her children. He suggested she said those things so she could maintain custody of their son.
The document also alleged that during the April 2020 incident, Dylan’s mother struck Derek Thebo hard across the face and damaged his hearing — though Thebo also admitted that he had just hit his stepdaughter.
In a statement released to News 8 Thursday, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, the department to which CPS belongs, said it was “deeply saddened” by the deaths.
“We would like to offer our condolences to the family,” the statement said. “The department is strongly committed to providing services and resources to children and families.”
3-YEAR-OLD RECALLED AS ENERGETIC, LOVING
Three-year-old Dylan loved Paw Patrol, trucks and dancing, his mother said in an online post, recalling him as energetic and funny.
“Dylan was tragically and unexpectedly taken from our family…” she wrote in a post on GoFundMe. “We are all absolutely devastated and there are no words to describe how much Dylan will be missed by all who knew him.”
She said he loved his older sister and the family’s dogs.
“His face would light up when playing with (his sister) and they always did everything together,” Dylan’s mother wrote. “They enjoyed going for bike rides, walks, singing in the car, playing with … (family dogs), and giving cards to the local police officers.”
She said Dylan was looking forward to being old enough to play on a soccer team, like his sister.
Dylan’s mother said she didn’t have life insurance for her son, which is why she was seeking help to cover his funeral expenses. The GoFundMe account was created Thursday. Within about 18 hours, it had collected more than $13,000 of its $20,000 goal.