The father of one of the two Upper Makefield boys hospitalized in extremely critical condition after their mother allegedly shot them recently sought to cancel a previously agreed on trip to Vietnam fearing she would not return, court documents show.
Edward Tini, in court documents, called his ex-wife, Trinh Nguyen, a flight risk and a “classic parent kidnapper.”
The couple had a long history of custody disputes, dating back to 2015, shortly after they were married.
In recent months, Tini had asked a Bucks County judge to revisit the 2015 custody petition he had filed shortly after he said that Nguyen took their then 3-year-old son, Nelson, to Texas and threatened not to return, according to documents filed in Bucks County Court.
Nguyen, 38, is accused of shooting now 9-year-old Nelson Tini and his older half-brother Jeffery “JT” Tini, 13, in the head while they lay in their beds on Monday morning, police said.
After shooting the boys, Nguyen allegedly attempted to shoot her neighbor, Gianni Melchiondo, the nephew of Edward Tini, but the gun didn’t fire. Melchiondo got the gun away from Nguyen, then ran into the house, while she escaped in a white minivan.
She was spotted several hours later in the parking lot of the Washington Crossing United Methodist Church, where she was apprehended. She is being held without bail on charges of attempted homicide and possession of an instrument of crime. Nguyen legally owned the registered gun she used, authorities said.
Authorities do not expect the boys to survive their wounds. They remain on life support, and the family is planning to donate their organs, according to police. On Thursday morning the District Attorney’s Office confirmed the boys’ condition has not changed.
District Attorney Matt Weintraub has not released a motive for the shootings, but court documents show Nguyen was about to lose her home and was facing a looming custody battle over Nelson, who was born in October 2012.
Nguyen had legal sole custody of Jeffrey Tini, whose father was her first husband, court records show. The couple divorced in 2009.
Court records show that Edward Tini, 51, filed the original custody petition in Bucks County court shortly after the couple married in July 2015 when he says Nguyen left the state with their son. The courts awarded the couple shared joint custody of Nelson. Both parties had equal physical custody as well.
The order included a provision that barred either parent from taking Nelson out of the continental United States without first obtaining written permission, and agreed that consent would not be unreasonably withheld.
The couple reconciled and the custody case went dormant, according to the court docket. It was reopened last April, after Nguyen filed for divorce and Tini moved out of the home in the 100 block of Timber Ridge Road, where the couple had lived since 2012.
In December, Nguyen filed a contempt and modification petitions against her ex-husband alleging the 2015 custody order was never executed, according to documents. She also stated the order wasn’t fair to her because she did not have her son every weekend.
“I still honor the 50/50 custody with a different share to be fair for both parties,” Nguyen wrote in her filing.
In her request she asked the court to change the days when she had custody so she had weekend time with Nelson and for permission to get a passport for Nelson and take him on vacation to Vietnam this summer. As part of the couple’s 2021 divorce settlement, it was agreed that Nguyen could take Nelson to visit her family in Vietnam for five weeks every other summer, starting this June.
Edward Tini agreed to change days, as long as it remains 50/50 custody, but wanted to delay the change until at least April because with both parents were moving to new homes and he felt it was enough change for the child, according to court documents.
But he changed his mind about the overseas visit.
“Vietnam is not a Hague member country. mother just received $220K in a divorce buy out. Father is afraid she will run to Vietnam with the child and that money and he will never get his son back,” according to paperwork. “Father thinks Mother is a classic flight risk and she presents as a classic parent kidnapper.”
Court documents did not offer additional evidence that Nguyen was a flight risk beyond the 2015 incident.
Tini said he would reconsider the Vietnam trip when Nelson was a teenager and could call him to come get him if his mother refused to return to the United States. He refused a compromise where Nguyen would require to post a bond for the trip to happen.
Nguyen, though, denied she had any intention of moving to Vietnam.
“She has two children who attend a great Council Rock School District. She has no intention of taking them to live in Vietnam. She would never do that,” she said in court filings.
Following a March hearing, the court entered an order where Tini and Nguyen agreed to continue with 50/50 physical custody Nelson and a new schedule effective April 1. Judge Denise Bowman also ordered an evaluation of Nelson to determine if he needed therapy.
Bowman also held Tini in contempt of the divorce agreement and he was warned if he wanted to modify the settlement agreement he needs to take appropriate steps.
Bowman did not make a decision on the Vietnam trip. A separate hearing was to be held on that issue.
In court, Tini, who lives in Philadelphia, and owns a window tinting business there, documents claimed that he was house-hunting in Newtown Township to be closer to his son.
At the same time, Nguyen, who was newly self-employed, and her sons were set to be evicted from the Timber Ridge Road home on May 3 following a nine-month legal battle with her landlord, and ex-sister-in-law , Corrina Tini Melchiondo, who lives in the adjoining home with her adult son.
Tini Melchiondo is the legal owner of the property, described as a duplex, but had an oral agreement with Edward Tini to pay off the home’s mortgage in five years and pay one-half of the ongoing bills and property maintenance and extensively renovate it, according to documents. Nguyen was not part of the home agreement.
Under the divorce settlement, Nguyen agreed to continue paying the household bills, an estimated $2,400 a month to Tini Melchiondo, who agreed to let her “temporarily reside” at the home.
Court filings show that Tini Melchiondo was awarded more than $11,000 in unpaid rent and fees, which she alleged Nguyen refused to pay. Records show Edward Tini agreed to pay Nguyen $3,500 a month in child support for two years and she received a $220,000 payout on a house the couple sold.
Court documents do not indicate if Nguyen found a new residence.
Nguyen remains held without bail in county prison. Charges against her are expected to be upgraded to homicide.
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