An application for a temporary protection order filed by Phoukeo Dej-Oudom was denied without a hearing just weeks before her husband fatally shot her and the couple’s three children, Clark County Family Court records show.
Dej-Oudom requested the order on June 8, and it was denied the following day because it did “not meet statutory requirements,” according to court records.
Las Vegas police have said Jason Dej-Oudom, 34, killed his wife and their children — Anhurak, 9; Xonajuk, 14; and Dalavanh, 15 — before taking his own life on the night of June 29.
In the protection order application, Phoukeo Dej-Oudom indicated that her husband had threatened the family with weapons in the past.
“Throughout the marriage, the childrens’ lives as well as mine have been threatened. Guns have been pulled out and pointed to our heads multiple times,” she wrote.
She elaborated with an example from June 7.
According to the application, at 9 a.m. on that date, Jason Dej-Oudom began to call and send “harassing” text messages, and ignored the woman’s plea for him to stop. At 3 p.m., the man showed up at her workplace and threatened to take the children back to Ohio. She indicated that he had just returned from taking the kids there without her permission.
“I tell him to leave promptly. He mentioned that he will take children whenever he pleases. In conversation, he said me not returning home is not an option, and will not accept it. Also said, ‘if anything were to happen to children, hopes I can live w/ that.’ Also, has said that ‘This will not end well.’”
Phoukeo Dej-Oudom had been staying with a cousin in the northwest valley, where her husband also was harassing her in May, according to the application. She filed for divorce and custody of the children on May 25.
It was not clear why the protection order application failed to meet statutory requirements. Judge William Potter, who presided over the divorce case, was unavailable Tuesday. His assistant deferred to county court spokeswoman Mary Ann Price, who would not comment.
Amy Mastin, the hearing master who denied the application, could not be reached.
Nevada law allows the court to issue a temporary protection order whenever “an act of domestic violence has occurred or there exists a threat of domestic violence.” And statutory definitions of domestic violence include harassment and threats.
A judge also can call for a hearing when an application is incomplete or more information is necessary.
Had the court granted a hearing for an extended protection order, as Phoukeo Dej-Oudom requested, a judge could have ordered that her husband surrender his firearms.
Lisa Lynn Chapman, communications coordinator for the Nevada Network Against Domestic Violence, stressed that people can reapply if their application for a protective order is denied. Domestic violence advocates from Safe Nest and Safe House also can help guide victims through the process.
Hannah Brook, director of community relations for Safe Nest, added that state law also allows workplaces to apply for temporary protection orders against an employee’s perpetrator because of harassment.
“People don’t think that the workplace is involved,” Brook said, but it often is. She said many times a victim quits or is let go because the perpetrator shows up to the workplace and harasses the victim in front of fellow employees and customers.
Phoukeo Dej-Oudom, 35, quit her job at a southwest valley Sport Clips Haircuts store on June 18 because she was “scared for her life,” a manager said.
Brook did not know why the woman’s application for a protection order was denied, but she said Safe Nest as a whole has observed that in cases where the victim files for divorce before applying for such an order, Family Court officials often will deny the application. That is because the court that handles the divorce often will issue a no-contact order against the perpetrator, as opposed to the temporary protection order.
But Brook was quick to point out the loophole: “A no-contact order can’t be enforced by police and has no criminal penalty attached to it.”
“Our understanding is that that’s been common practice for years now,” Brook said. “That’s why it’s very important that the judges and courts continue their training and truly understand the pattern of domestic violence.”
Charles Hoskin, the presiding judge of Family Court, could not be reached Tuesday.
Phoukeo Dej-Oudom was shot in the head and killed about 7:30 p.m. June 29 outside the Walgreens at the intersection of Lake Mead and Jones boulevards.
Officers found the children and their father, all with gunshot wounds to the head, later that night in the family’s home in the Torrey Pines Condominiums, 1900 N. Torrey Pines Drive. Police said the husband killed himself after fatally shooting the others. Police do not know whether the children were killed before or after their mother was killed.
Metro officers responded to a domestic violence incident at the family’s condominium earlier in June, police said. The department has not released any information about that incident.
In the application for the protection order, Phoukeo Dej-Oudom wrote that her husband was arrested for domestic violence in Columbus, Ohio, in 2005. Records for that incident were not available Tuesday, but Columbus police said there were two incidents involving Jason Dej-Oudom that year.
Brook said those in her organization were frustrated to learn about the denial of the wife’s protection order application.
People often wonder why such orders are necessary, she said. “But the reality is victims are dealing with someone who is irrational, who is not thinking clearly, so it’s even more important for victims to have a safety plan,” including protective orders.
“It’s unfortunate we only talk about domestic violence when domestic violence homicides happen,” Brook said. “That’s why it’s important to have a continuous dialogue so that the community can be continuously educated not only on domestic violence but on the effect it has on the victim, the family members and the community, and so the community is aware of the resources that can help.”
Safe Nest’s hotline can be reached at 702-646-4981 or 1-800-486-7282. The state’s domestic violence hotline can be reached at 1-800-500-1556.