Wolfenbarger and Furneaux never married: Theirs was a summer romance that lasted only a few months in 2007, after a chance meeting in a campground near Lapeer.
“He said all the right things and I believed him,” said Furneaux, a churchgoing Catholic who dreaded telling her parents she was pregnant.
A few months later, the couple split up. By the first custody hearing in July 2008, when Lily was 3 months old, Wolfenbarger had married King, a woman he’d known since high school.
Lapeer Circuit Judge Michael Higgins made it clear that he believed in joint custody and intended to award it.
Higgins called Furneaux “obsessed” with her daughter and rebuked her for calling the father’s home, objected to her interest in sole custody and suggested she drop out of Central Michigan University, according to transcripts.
“You should have adopted a baby without a dad, that’s what you should have done,” Higgins said. “You had a baby with this man. And you’re devastated?”
“I’m sorry but that’s too bad. Get used to it,” the judge said, referring to joint custody.
Uncomfortable with the joint custody arrangement from the start, Furneaux and her parents, Frederick “Chico” and Lynette Furneaux, became suspicious in spring 2010 that Lily was being physically abused.
A mark on Lily’s neck that looked like a burn and a black eye were explained away by King and Wolfenbarger.
“I wanted to call the authorities,” said Furneaux. “I was afraid that I would lose my daughter.”
Our Worst Fear
Lily died Nov. 20, 2010, a few hours after her mother handed her to her father, Jeffrey Wolfenbarger, in a restaurant parking lot in Capac.
A few hours after that, Lily was dead, in the living room of her father’s trailer in New Haven. Lily’s stepmother, Renee King, was described as kneeling by her, hysterical.
King was found GUILTY on February 27, 2012, of all three charges and was subsequently sentenced to life in prison.
Lily will live in our hearts, to infinity and beyond.