ALBANY, Ore. (KOIN) — For nearly 2 years Rebekah and Scott Gasperino have been going through a divorce battle. During that time they’ve fought each other for custody of their daughter, Sophia. Each claimed the other’s mental health put Sophia in danger.

Now, Rebekah Gasperino is charged with aggravated murder in the death of the 3-year-old. Rebekah was arrested in the early hours of Saturday during a traffic stop when officers learned she was considered a danger to herself and others.

Albany police went to their house and found Sophia dead.

Neighbors in the cul de sac of the 2000 block of Sun Place SE in Albany are reeling at the death of the girl and her mother’s arrest for premeditated murder. No one wanted to speak with KOIN 6 News on camera, but the empty-nesters in the block said they loved having a little girl play in the streets again.

A makeshift memorial of balloons and flowers on the driveway of the Gasperino home in Albany, where 3-year-old Sophia was murdered, April 26, 2022. (KOIN)

The back-and-forth court motions

Rebekah filed for divorce and asked for full custody of Sophia in June 2020. That was denied.

Then Scott sought full custody in September 2020 and said Rebekah was “observed to be unfit” to watch over Sophia. He claimed Rebekah was seen at a shelter “hearing voices and obeying said voices to make dangerous choices.”

In October 2020, Scott said his family, Rebekah’s family and their pastor all agreed Sophia would be in danger being in Rebekah’s custody.

Court documents obtained by KOIN 6 News showed a counselor from Cross and Crown Counseling agreed and said Rebekah had acted competitively and aggressively toward Sophia.

About a month later, in November 2020, Rebekah filed for full custody of Sophia. She said Scott was a danger to her daughter. But a judge disagreed and denied the motion.

The parents agreed to split custody from March 2021 through March 2022. That’s when Scott filed a protective plan through the Department of Human Services and took Sophia to live with his parents. In the filing with DHS, Scott said Rebekah was having a “spiritual vision” in which Sophia was dead.

Those plans were in effect for 10 days but on April 1 the presiding judge, Judge Rachel Kittson-MaQatish, dismissed an extension and forced Scott and Sophia to live back with Rebekah at the end of the protective order.

On April 12, 2022, Rebekah sent a letter to the same judge asking for the divorce trial to begin because she was concerned about Scott’s mental health. Judge Kittson-MaQatish answered the letter and said Rebekah has a good attorney and that they’re waiting on documents to be sent to proceed with divorce case.

Ten days later, Sophia was found dead and Rebekah arrested for her murder.

Rebekah Gasperino at her first court appearance for an aggravated murder charge in the death of her 3-year-old daughter in Albany, April 25, 2022 (KOIN)

KOIN 6 News reached out to the clerk for Judge Kittson-MaQatish on why she dismissed that protection plan supported by DHS but because she is still presiding over the domestic relations case involving Rebekah and Scott Gasperino, Oregon law prohibits her from commenting on specifics of the case. 

Rebekah Gasperino is expected back in court on May 9.

KOIN 6 News will continue to follow this story.