Tuesday, August 31, 1999
No signs of violence seen before stabbing
But a pregnant mother was murdered and her husband is being held
By Debra Barayuga
To court officials, Timothy and Bianca Ward, going through a divorce, showed no signs of domestic violence.
Apparently until Thursday.
That morning, the military couple appeared in Family Court, and Bianca Ward was awarded temporary custody of their 1-year-old son, allowing him to accompany her to her hometown in Germany. She was also expecting a second child in October and wanted to give birth there, where she had the support of family members.
That evening, Bianca Ward, 26, was found dead with stab wounds at her Helemano Military Reservation apartment. Her unborn child did not survive.
Her toddler son may have been present when she was killed and is now in Child Protective Services’ custody. Husband Timothy Ward is being held by military authorities in connection with her death.
“Sometimes, even with the best of intentions, we cannot protect all the people from each other or themselves,” wrote Dennis Chun, Family Court bailiff supervisor, in documents filed in the couple’s divorce file, a day after Ward was murdered. “Sadly this may be such a case.”
Bianca Ward apparently had not expressed any concern to her attorney, Paul Tomar, the records state. The issue of domestic violence did not come up at the couple’s scheduled court hearings, including Thursday’s hearing before Family Court Judge Allene Suemori.
Suemori said Ward “appeared unhappy with her situation but did not express any concern for her safety,” wrote Chun.
“From all concerned, there were no signs or fears that (Timothy Ward) would resolve his situation in such a violent way.”
Filed for divorce
Timothy Ward, 33, an infantry squad leader in the U.S. Army, filed for divorce from his wife of three years on April 23. On the complaint, he checked off the box that stated the marriage was irretrievably broken.
In April, Tomar filed a motion for pre-decree relief, checking an item on the document requesting a temporary restraining order and going into detail why he sought a protection order for Bianca Ward.
According to Bianca Ward, her husband used controlling behavior such as verbal intimidation, harassment and threats by denying her use of the couple’s cars, the phone or preventing her from accessing their bank accounts.
He also changed their phone number without her knowledge, put a block on all long-distance calls made from their phone, and controlled all expenses, such as grocery shopping, the records say.
Restraining order granted
His control over her emotional, economical and physical well-being resulted in a state of false imprisonment, put her in a constant state of fear and stress and put the safety of her unborn child at risk, Tomar wrote.
A restraining order was granted by the court May 5. But it never came up again, even at the Aug. 26 hearing.
In an affidavit in response to Bianca Ward’s statements, Timothy Ward denies ever threatening his wife physically or verbally. While they have had disagreements or exchanged harsh words, he has never harassed her, nor would he place his son and unborn child in an unsafe situation, he wrote.
But he said he had to take steps to ensure what happened in June 1998 would not happen again.
Last June, his wife had left for Germany with their son without his knowledge. He sought legal recourse through the Hague Convention on International Child Abduction and went to Berlin for a hearing on the case. His wife agreed to return to Hawaii on condition he drop the parental abduction charge and help her obtain permanent immigration status.
He said before she fled, she ran up a $600 phone bill calling Germany, withdrew a large amount from their bank account and left their new car parked at the airport. So he put a long-distance block on the phone, closed their joint bank accounts and destroyed her automated teller machine card. He refused to give her money until he learned she was sending food to Germany.
He denied cutting off her access to prenatal or medical care. “I believe I have acted legally and morally toward my wife,” he stated.
Could not understand
He could not understand why she wanted to leave for Germany after she learned she was pregnant in February. Her doctor also had advised her that she shouldn’t be traveling long distances after Sept. 2.
“She seems anxious to leave me and the United States and to not let me have a chance to see the new baby,” he wrote, indicating he was having doubts about the baby’s paternity and sought to have the issue resolved.
In a report by Mitchell Werth, guardian ad litem of the couple’s 1-year-old boy, the couple seemed to be willing to settle issues, including paternity of the unborn child, allowing Timothy Ward more time with the couple’s son, short and long-term visitation and custody.
The couple attended a 2–hour mediation session Aug. 19 where they appeared to make good progress, Werth reported.
They worked out a settlement where they would have joint legal custody of their son, but with primary custody to Bianca Ward. But at the end of their session, Timothy Ward reverted to his earlier desire to have his son for six months, followed by six months with his mother.
The toddler cried as they left the mediation session, but Timothy Ward would not permit his mother to comfort him, Werth noted. While there was no question the father loved his child, he failed to show the emotional sharing and nurturing his wife exhibited, Werth wrote.
Timothy Ward was given until the next day to accept the proposed settlement but he didn’t respond.
Chun’s preliminary report Friday indicated he saw no fault in the way the court handled the case. “It is important to remember that in addressing this issue of domestic violence, we are only as good as the evidence before us,” Chun wrote. “In this case there was no evidence of violence.”