Divorce can be difficult, especially when there is a child involved. Even when a couple is willing to work with one another, when a child is placed in the center of the dispute things can get ugly fast. If both parents are dedicated to their child’s needs, then this animosity will subside with time. Unfortunately, there are parents that cannot see outside of their own selfish needs and when this happens, things can get very dark for the child caught in the middle.

Narges Shafeirad and Hamid Azimi-Dana had a series of marital problems, the only thing keeping them together was their son Daniel. In July of 2013, Shafeirad filed a protection order against Dana, forcing him to move out of the house and prohibiting him from contacting Shafeirad unless it was through text message.

Dana was furious about the protection order, and three days later he retaliated with a protection order of his own. In the complaint, Dana described Shafeirad as physically and mentally abusive and claimed that both he and Daniel were in fear for their lives.

In spite of the turmoil the couple’s relationship was in, Dana did not want to deprive his son of a mother and did his best to share parentage with the woman he claimed he had grown to fear.

Two years later, Dana and Shafeirad would be embroiled in a bitter custody battle over 5-year-old Daniel. Shafeirad was between a rock and a hard place. She did not want to grant Dana full custody of their son out of spite, but she had reached a point where she could not get her own life under control. She had been fired from her job, on the verge of eviction, and fearful that she could not afford to support Daniel in the shared parentage agreement with Dana.

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Rather than doing what was best for little Daniel, Shafeirad began making plans to kill her own child.

The last time Hamid Azimi-Dana saw his son he could tell the custody battle had been taking its toll on him. Dana told Daniel to “Please be strong.” Daniel looked at his father and told him, “Daddy, I’m strong. You be strong.”

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It was Daniel’s last day of kindergarten when Shafeirad picked him up in a car she had borrowed from a friend. She held Daniel down and forced him to drink an entire bottle of cold medicine, causing the area around his mouth to become red and bruised. She then drove the boy’s body to the Sam Eig Highway in Gaithersburg where she covered the car in gasoline and set the boy on fire. Shafeirad was found by EMTs on the side of the road. She had also sustained burns on over 40-percent of her body.

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An autopsy report on Daniel showed that he had double the amount of diphenhydramine necessary to kill a grown adult in his system. It also showed that he had been splattered with the gasoline prior to being set on fire.

Dana wrote to the court:

“I wake up at nights with nightmares. I keep seeing Daniel’s beautiful face being forced a bottle of poison. Daniel had a beautiful face but he didn’t like medicine. So I keep dreaming how Narges forced the medicine down his mouth, and that was the last thing Daniel experienced in this world. Why?”

Shafeirad pleaded guilty to first-degree murder. She claims that she was a “broken woman” and told the courts that she is still in a state of disbelief that she has “lost her son.” She was described as “completely emotionless” as the judge sentenced her to 50-years to life in prison.