The Oak Point man accused of fatally shooting his 10-year-old daughter on Christmas Eve had been investigated repeatedly by Child Protective Services
, and police believe he was probably drunk when he fired the shot, according to officials and court records.
Ashley Watrous was one of Watrous' five children, and one of three who lived with him at his Oak Point home, according to court records and police officials.
Watrous and Ashley's mother – identified in court records as Brandy Michelle Washburn-Rives, 29 – have been investigated on allegations of child abuse and neglect in Texas and Oklahoma since 2003, according to records filed Monday in a Denton County court by the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, which includes CPS.
CPS determined in March that Watrous had abused a child from a previous relationship who lived with his mother but visited him regularly
, according to court records. It was unclear whether the agency tried to remove Ashley and her siblings at the time.
Watrous was arrested in April on a charge of injury to a child, but a grand jury declined to indict him in June, according to Denton County court records.
CPS spokeswoman Marissa Gonzales said she was unaware of any attempts by the agency to remove the children from Watrous' home after the March investigation.
"In some cases, if you don't have an outcry of abuse from the other children in the home and ... they appear to be in good condition, you won't necessarily have a legal basis to remove them from the home based on an injury suffered by another child in the home," Gonzales said.
Court records paint a disturbing picture of a family racked by conflict and allegations of abuse.
A judge limited Washburn-Rives' custody of the children after a 2003 investigation found she had abused them, CPS caseworker Hiza said in an affidavit filed Monday.
CPS investigators found that Washburn-Rives had emotionally abused Ashley and neglected Ashley and her brother, according to the affidavit.
The caseworker described Watrous and Washburn-Rives' relationship as turbulent and said each has accused the other of abusing the children
Washburn-Rives told the caseworker she was at Watrous' home hours before Thursday's shooting and saw him drinking beer, according to the affidavit. Washburn-Rives admitted knowing that Watrous kept guns in the house, had an alcohol problem and became aggressive when he drank
, Hiza said in the affidavit.
Washburn-Rives said Watrous had "mind control" over her that made her unable to make decisions about the children
, according to the affidavit. She also said Watrous abused her, and she recounted a time when he choked her to the point that she "saw stars," the affidavit says.
Watrous' two children from a prior marriage are believed to be living with their mother, identified in court records as Aude Freeman. Her husband, Allen Freeman, said she would not comment on the shooting.
Aude Freeman also accused Watrous of abuse in court records related to their 2007 divorce and subsequent custody battle. In an affidavit filed in March, she accused Watrous of abusing several of his children, including Ashley and their 7-year-old son.