Woman, 66, Shoots Estranged Son-in-Law Over Custody Dispute, Florida Police Say

Cheryl Hepner of Florida allegedly pulled a gun from behind grandson's pillow.

ByABC News
December 11, 2011, 10:32 PM

Dec. 12, 2011 — -- A 66-year-old grandmother is under arrest after police say she shot her estranged son-in-law because of an ongoing custody battle he and her daughter were having over the pair's young son.

The victim, Salvatore Miglino of Boca Raton, had his cell phone recording the entire time, and the audio was key to the investigation of the Wednesday shooting in Broward County, Fla.

The incident unfolded when Miglino, 39, went to pick up his 3-year-old son for a scheduled visit. His mother-in-law, Cheryl Hepner, stood outside the home with the toddler's pillow and bag.

"According to him, when he asked for the things, she instead pulled out a handgun and starts firing shots," according to Dani Moschella, a spokeswoman for the Broward County Sheriff's Office.

Miglino was shot twice with a .22 caliber Beretta handgun. The bullets hit him in the shoulder and rib cage. Even though he was injured, he pounced and wrestled the gun away from Hepner, then drove away while calling for help, police said.

But it turns out that Hepner, too, had called police, with a different version of events.

When she was asked by the 911 dispatcher about whether she or Miglino pulled the gun, Hepner replied: "No, he pulled it on me and he's got it. He drove away," according to an audio recording of the call.

She also mentions to the dispatcher that he and her daughter were in "the middle of a horrible divorce."

But in the recording on Miglino's iPhone told a different story.

Fifty-eight seconds into the recording, three gunshots are heard. Then Miglino can be heard saying: "I can't believe you did that. I can't believe you did that … I can't believe you f***ing shot me."

Miglino told the 911 operator that he had his phone recording his visit because "I knew something stupid was going to happen, but we're going through a divorce and trying to settle."

"Mrs. Hepner told authorities that [Miglino] pulled a gun on her so it was in fact the exact opposite of what had happened," Moschella said. "As evidence goes, that was a gem. That absolutely corroborated everything that Mr. Miglino had told detectives."