Wednesday, June 19, 2002

Slaying suspect’s mom says
son likely ‘snapped’

By Gregg K. Kakesako

The mother of a Navy sailor held in the killing of his wife and mother-in-law says her son suspected his spouse of cheating on him.

Dee Eriz said the last time she talked with her son, Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class David DeArmond, was three weeks ago.

"There already was a restraining order (against her son)," Eriz said in a phone interview from Portland, Ore. "He was living in the barracks and he told me that she had been out all night. He suspected that she might have met a man."

Eriz said she believes that her daughter-in-law, Zaleha DeArmond, 31, "was pushing all of my son's buttons and he apparently snapped. He's a good man and not the monster everyone is painting him out to be."

DeArmond, who turned 33 on Monday, is being held in the Ford Island brig while Navy officials investigate the beating death of his wife. Also found dead on the second floor of the couple's two-story Hokulani naval housing home on Monday with multiple stab wounds was Saniah Abdul Ghani, 66. Both women were from Singapore.

The couple's three children have been turned over to the state's Child Protective Services. The couple was married in 1996 in California.

Eriz said she last visited the couple in Hawaii on Thanksgiving after her son began his second tour in the islands in 1999. DeArmond was a hull technician at the Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard.

Even then, she said the couple seemed to be having problems.

Eriz described Zaleha DeArmond as "head strong," adding, "She was a very independent woman and very possessive of her children."

Three weeks ago when she last talked by phone with her son, Eriz said he described the children as being "very unruly. He was not able to discipline them or even give them time out," Eriz said. "He said his wife believed that even if you spoiled a child they would grow up all right."

Eriz said her son was "always a good husband; always checking on the kids even when she was out with every Tom, Dick and Harry and when he was supposed to be at work.

However, Zaleha DeArmond's family was told by their mother that the Pearl Harbor sailor was "abusive."

Zaleha DeArmond, according to her brother, had wanted to leave her husband, but changed her mind fearing that would jeopardize the welfare of the three children.

Ghani, who had been living at Leal Place since December, had told her family that "there were squabbles" between the couple. She was supposed to have returned home to Singapore on Tuesday.

On May 3, Zaleha DeArmond sought a temporary restraining order after she said her husband trashed the dining table in the couple's home until it broke, threw away the Quran -- the Muslim holy book -- and threw their wedding photo in the toilet.

"You are gonna pay for everything you did to me," and "Die, bitch" were a few of the threats she said he made just two days before she filed for the order.

In 1995, DeArmond was convicted in San Diego of domestic abuse and choking his first wife, Jeanette, and placed on three months probation.

Eriz said her son met his first wife when he was first stationed in Hawaii.

"She was only 19 when they got married," Eriz said. "She also ran around every time his ship left and that is why he divorced her."

Eriz said she may not be able to attend a court-martial for her son because she is living on disability income. As of last night the Navy had not charged him.

E-mail to City Desk


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