A Dallas man accused of kidnapping and drowning his two young sons had a history of violence, and child protective services officials had been tracking the family for months, according to records and interviews with case officials Tuesday.
Naim Muhammad, 32, is charged with capital murder and is being held on $2 million bond. Police said he kidnapped 3-year-old Elijah, 5-year-old Naim and their mother by threatening her with a brick as they walked to school Monday.
Muhammad confessed to the killings later that day, telling homicide detectives during a videotaped interview that he drowned the boys in a remote creek, according to an arrest warrant affidavit obtained Tuesday by The Dallas Morning News.
Muhammad also tried but failed to take his youngest child, a 1-year-old, from another location earlier Monday.
The children had been under watch by Texas Child Protective Services since January, after the agency received a referral of family violence, agency spokeswoman Marissa Gonzales said Tuesday. She declined to say who made the referral but said the three children and their mother, Kametra Sampson, were living together in a shelter at the time.
Caseworkers had been checking on the family ever since. They moved out of the shelter at the end of July, and during caseworkers' last visit their home Aug. 10, the children "appeared to be fine," Gonzales said.
CPS doesn't believe Muhammad lived with them at any point since the agency got involved, Gonzales said. She said she couldn't disclose details about the shelter.
"By all accounts, the mother had been cooperative with CPS and indicated she planned to be as protective as she could of these children," she said, adding that the agency is investigating to see what events led up to Monday's violence.
The incident followed at least two other criminal cases involving alleged acts of family violence by Muhammad in the last two years, according to court records.
In a pending matter, Muhammad has been charged with assault causing bodily injury for allegedly striking Sampson in the face with his fist and then attempting to flee with one of his sons in February.
Muhammad threatened to beat Sampson unless she allowed him to take the boy to school, according to a police report. Police returned the boy to his mother after finding him at a bus stop with Muhammad.
In 2009, Muhammad received five years' probation after pleading guilty to hitting his sister in the head with a hammer. The probation was ultimately modified to require that Muhammad receive drug treatment. In a report dated last Nov. 28, a counselor wrote that Muhammad "has identified thinking errors and appears to be ready to make the behavioral changes needed to become a pro-social and productive member of society."
Muhammad's court-appointed attorney in that case, Phillip Linder, said his client had issues, but nothing that would make him seem particularly dangerous.
"You could tell he had some drug issues, some family issues, and obviously CPS was involved," Linder said. "Unfortunately, sometimes they don't stand out."
Monday's incident began when Muhammad forced his sons and Sampson into his vehicle. Sampson jumped out of the vehicle after it stopped at an intersection when she saw a Dallas County deputy constable drive up.
The deputy constable called police but didn't chase the suspect, according to the report. Hours later, after police failed to catch up with Muhammad, authorities received a 911 call from a woman who said her son had drowned her grandchildren and that she had the unresponsive children in her car awaiting paramedics.
The deputy constable's supervisor said Tuesday that appropriate action was taken. Constables are armed law officers, but their main duty is to serve court documents in civil cases.
"I think the officer did pretty much what she was trained to do there," said Derick Evans, constable for Dallas County Precinct 1. "You have people who are going to run up to you sometimes and say all kind of things, and this lady (was) saying her kids were kidnapped by her husband.
"The officer probably wouldn't know if that's a family dispute, just a husband and wife having an argument, or what it could be."
Associated Press writer Diana Heidgerd contributed to this report from Dallas.
Information from: The Dallas Morning News, http://www.dallasnews.com