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Temple Terrace murder suicide: Florida father kills 3 year old daughter then self in custody battle

Ayhan Aytes
Pictured, Ayhan Aytes and his estranged wife, Laurel Friedman and their toddler daughter, Ela.
Ayhan Aytes
Pictured, Ayhan Aytes and his estranged wife, Laurel Friedman and their toddler daughter, Ela.

Temple Terrace murder suicide: Ayhan Aytes murders toddler daughter then self following custody battle with estranged wife. How the system failed to protect a child. 

A Florida professor has killed his three year old daughter then himself. The apparent murder suicide comes as the child’s father was embroiled in a custody battle with his estranged wife and mother of the slain toddler.

The Tampa Bay Times reported Laurel Friedman, 38, saying she was having custody issues with her estranged husband, Ayhan Aytes, 48, over their 3 year old daughter, Ela Deniz Friedman Aytes.

Notice of the deaths came after Friedman on Monday asked police to perform a welfare check at her estranged husband’s Temple Terrace condominium in Hillsborough County after being unable to reach him. 

It was there, circa 4pm that afternoon that officers made the gruesome discovery of the slain girl next to her father who is thought to have taken his own life after murdering Ela.

The cause of death was scheduled to be determined by the Hillsborough County Medical Examiner’s Office.

Friedman and Aytes filed for divorce in January- with the former couple deciding to share custody of their daughter, but Friedman grew increasingly worried Aytes- a University of South Florida (USF) media professor- would take Ela to his native country of Turkey after failing to bring the toddler back after his scheduled visits, according to her divorce filings.  

Ayhan Aytes increasingly becoming erratic: 

Tensions between Aytes and Friedman escalated over the past couple of weeks in regards to Ela.  

Last Wednesday when Aytes didn’t return the little girl to Friedman after his scheduled visiting day, she filed an emergency motion in court asking a judge to issue an order to allow her to pick up the girl immediately. 

‘The Father is only refusing to return the minor child for a warped sense of satisfaction that he has disrupted the Mother’s life,’ the motion said, The Ledger reported.

‘Father’s mental health is declining, and his behavior is becoming increasingly unpredictable and erratic,’ the filing said.

Instead of forcing Aytes to immediately comply with filed custody motions- Judge Wesley Tibbals issued a directive demanding Aytes abide by the parenting plan. 

The suspected murder suicide took place just five days later. 

Ayhan Aytes
Ayhan Aytes

Ayhan Aytes: A history of repeat domestic issues. 

Police records showed officers responding to the educator’s address eight times in the past couple of years. 

‘The system failed Ela in the most tragic of ways, even as my lawyer and I did everything in our power to ensure her safety,’ Friedman told media.   

Read a released statement: ‘Our family is devastated at the loss of our beloved Ela. At this point we need time to grieve together and we ask for privacy. We hope to have a statement as we begin to comprehend this horrific event. Thank you for your consideration,’

‘Anytime a child is involved in a crime, it’s heartbreaking,’ police spokeswoman Laurie Hayes told via WFLA.

Aytes, who was born in Turkey, married Friedman in 2012. They both previously studied at the University of California San Diego

Friedman is a photographer and an instructor at the University of South Florida’s School of Communication. 

Aytes was a media and communication scholar working as an assistant visiting professor at the University of Florida. His last contract with the school expired in May, according to USF officials.

The two previously lived in Istanbul but moved to Tampa Bay following a failed coup d’état in Turkey, according to Friedman’s father Barry Friedman

‘Laurel was able to find them both employment through some contacts she had” at USF. We were glad they got back to the states,’ he said to The Ledger.  

Laurel Friedman
Pictured, Laurel Friedman with Ela. Image via Facebook.