The woman who took in Florida school shooter Nikolas Cruz, 19, and his minor brother Zachary after their mother’s death has filed for control over their mother’s estate.
Rocxanne Deschamps filed documents seeking to be named the administrator of Lynda Cruz’s reportedly $800,000 estate on Thursday, just one day after the shooter massacred 17 victims and injured 15 others at Marjory Douglas Stoneman High School in the city of Parkland.
Zachary, age 17, still lives with 42-year-old Deschamps at her home in Lake Worth, Florida, which was her grounds for seeking the court appointment, as he is a beneficiary who is also a minor in her custody, at least for the next week.
The shooter’s younger brother has been undergoing psychiatric evaluation at a mental hospital in Palm Beach since Friday.
Zachary was committed involuntarily because of Deschamps, a source told the New York Post. But he turns 18 this week and is expected to be released before his birthday.
A family friend of Rocxanne Deschamps (pictured), 42, who initially took in the Cruz brothers after the death of their mother, said she was receiving threats from parents who had children die in the school shooting. She has been taking care of Cruz’s younger brother Zachary
Chad Bennett, 37, who is a close friend of Deschamps, told DailyMail.com the only reason Zachary is being investigated is due to spurious allegations about him to police that the 17-year-old would ‘finish what his older brother started.’
Bennett did not say who it was that raised those concerns.
Bennett says Deschamp’s petition in Broward County to gain formal control of what remains of Lynda Cruz’s estate is not for her personal gain.
There is a fee associated with serving as the administrator of an estate, which would be paid out of the estate, but that fee would have to be approved by the court.
Bennett, who lives in West Palm Beach, Florida, said of Deschamps: ‘She’s got parents of kids coming after her, threatening her to the point where she’s got to have police escorts sitting outside her house.’
Zachary Cruz, the 17-year-old younger brother of Parkland school shooter Nikolas Cruz (pictured) is still in the care of a psychiatric facility, after police were told he would ‘finish what his older brother started’
Bennett characterized Deschamps’ actions as trying to take care of the children of the late Lynda Cruz, despite the horrific murders and injuries that the shooter admitted to, and threats to her own safety.
‘She’s getting threats from parents of kids who were in the shooting. Don’t get me wrong, what Nikolas did was absolutely wrong and what he gets, his punishment is his punishment,’ he said.
‘I don’t condone that and that was wrong. But she’s trying to help these kids out.’
The shooter reportedly told the family who took him in after Deschamps that she was trying to steal his inheritance, but Bennett denies that’s the case.
Last Thursday, Deschamps filed a petition in Broward County to gain formal control of Lynda Cruz’s estate – understood to be worth at least $800,000 (pictured)
Although Deschamps filed the petition for control, Bennett says it is not for her personal gain
Deschamps’ friend Chad Bennett (pictured) said the shooter appeared odd from the start while his younger brother Zachary is a ‘smart kid’ who adores video games and socializing
The older brother slaughtered 17 former classmates and teachers at the Marjory Douglas Stoneman High School in Parkland, Florida, on Wednesday.
The shooter, who remains locked up at the Broward County Jail, was charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder the following day.
According to the arrest report, he burst into the school at approximately 2.23pm and mowed down victims indiscriminately using an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle. Seven of the victims were just 14 years old.
It has since emerged that the shooter had been expelled from the school the previous February due to disciplinary issues, including an incident in which he was caught carrying bullet casings.
He then went on to two schools, most recently at Rock Island OCLC in Oakland Park, and had been diagnosed with autism and depression, according to records held by the Department of Children and Families.
The killer was born in Margate, Florida, and grew up in Parkland, not far from the school, with his adoptive parents, Lynda and Roger Cruz. Roger died in 2005 from heart problems.
His younger brother Zachary, shares a biological mother with the shooter, but has a different biological father.
Zachary, 17, still lives with Deschamps at her home (pictured) in Lake Worth, Florida, and has been undergoing psychiatric evaluation at a mental hospital in Palm Beach since Friday
Zachary, who turns 18 this week, is expected to be released prior to his birthday. Pictured: Deschamps on Friday
Bennett said of Zachary: ‘He’s had to watch his adopted father die, to watch his adopted mother die and now there’s this. That kid’s going to be scarred for life and it’s not fair to him’. Pictured: Police outside Deschamps’ home
Although the shooter was believed to be close to his mother, cops were called to the large detached home 39 times between 2010 and 2017 – with incidents ranging from vandalizing cars to shooting at a neighbor’s chickens.
In January 2017, the family sold their home and moved to a rented property in a gated community nearby – the same house given by the shooter as his address to police following his arrest on Wednesday.
When Lynda died at age 68 on November 1, both boys moved in with Deschamps who had previously lived next door and ‘loved Lynda to death’.
‘I was there with Roxy when it happened,’ Bennett, who works at a hardware store in Loxahatchee, told DailyMail.com. ‘Those boys were in the room when their mother passed.’
The shooter moved out in January after being told he could not have guns at the house.
Bennett says he helped move the brothers to Deschamps’ trailer home in Lake Worth, where the yacht company worker lives with her own two sons.
The shooter, he said, appeared odd from the start while he described the younger brother Zachary is a ‘smart kid’ who adores video games and socializing.
Like school friends who told DailyMail.com that the shooter had pestered them for their thoughts on potential weapons purchases, Bennett noticed the shooter appeared obsessed with guns but said it didn’t initially concern Deschamps.
‘He had rifles and things like that when I met him,’ he told DailyMail.com. ‘But he led me to believe that he liked hunting.
‘He didn’t let on that he felt like killing people or anything like that until the last second. I would never have seen this coming, never.’
Both boys moved in with Deschamps after their adoptive mother Lynda Cruz, 68, (pictured with one of her sons) died from pneumonia in November but Cruz moved out in January after being told he could not have guns at the house
After leaving Deschamps’ home, Nikolas Cruz moved in with James and Kimberly Snead (pictured) and their 17-year-old son
He added: ‘She [Deschamps] never seemed like she was concerned about him – she was more than happy to give them a home.
‘She had known them since they were young. Lynda was like family to her – she loved her to death.’
But Cruz moved out less than two months later, after attempting to bring a weapon into Deschamps’ house.
‘He wanted to have a gun and she did not want it in the house so she gave him the ultimatum that if you want to keep the gun, you cannot live here,’ Bennett said.
‘He chose to keep the gun and that was his decision. So the stuff about she kicked him out – no, she gave him the choice. And being 19 and an adult, the choice he made was he wanted to go.’
Cruz moved in with the Snead family, whose son, TJ, was a friend of his.
They have since spoken of their horror at discovering they had ‘this monster living under our roof’ but allowed him to keep his weapons.
Indeed, in January, the shooter added to his gun collection – purchasing an AK-47 assault rifle at Gun World of South Florida in Deerfield Beach, where he passed all of the background checks after failing to disclose his long-standing mental health issues.
Cruz faced court briefly on Thursday as he was officially charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder over the high school shooting massacre
According to Bennett, both Zachary and Deschamps have been left distraught by the shooting and he says he is furious that Zachary is being put through needless mental health exams.
Of the admitted killer’s younger brother, Bennett added: ‘He’s well taken care of – he’s got food, he’s got a roof, people who care about him and have love for him.
‘He’s got everything any child would want. But he’s had to watch his adopted father die, to watch his adopted mother die and now there’s this.
‘That kid’s going to be scarred for life and it’s not fair to him.’
Deschamps could not immediately be reached for comment regarding her court filing on Thursday.
She had six months from Lynda’s November 1 death to file the petition, so she could have done so as late as May 1, but if she did so after Zachary turned 18 she would have had to do so based on different grounds.
Deschamps’ attorney Audra Simovitz called the decision to file the day after the slaughter ‘appropriate.’
Zachary is ‘a 50 percent minor beneficiary’ of the estate, according to the documents filed by Deschamps. He’ll be 18 this week, and thus no longer a minor.
The shooter could still obtain his portion of the estate, which is believed to pass to him at age 22, even if convicted.
In the event he does, Florida probate lawyer Robert Wolf, who is not involved in the case, told the Post that the shooter would likely not see a dime of it.
‘Anything that boy inherits, he’s gonna be sued and it’s gonna be taken away,’ Wolf said.
PICTURED: Fourteen students, geography teacher, coach and athletic director shot dead in Florida high school massacre
Jaime Guttenberg, 14, (left) was described by relatives as a ‘kind-hearted, sweet’ girl. She attended the school with her younger brother who survived and rushed home afterwards. Senior Nicholas Dworet (right) was a gifted swimmer who had his sights set on 2020 Tokyo Olympics success. His devastated college student girlfriend is among those grieving his death. Friends said he was not just a talented athlete, but a ‘good guy’ who will be missed
Martin Duque, 14, (left) was missing for hours on Wednesday and his frantic family desperately appealed for him to get in touch on social media. On Thursday, his older brother Miguel confirmed his death. Martin was a freshman. Meadow Pollack, 18, (right) was preparing for college. Her father was at the school on Wednesday and showed her photograph around in the hope that she would be found alive
Cara Loughran (left) was missing on Wednesday afternoon. Her mother Denise and her father rushed to the designated hotel where parents were told to go to be reunited with their children in the hope that she would be found alive. Her grieving neighbor confirmed her death on Thursday. Alyssa Alhadeff, 15, (right) was eulogized by her mother who said she was a talented soccer player and creative mind. ‘All she had to offer the world was love… I just sent her to school and she was shot and killed,’ she said
Luke Hoyer, 15, (left) was described as a ‘precious’ child by his grandparents who confirmed his death. They found out about the shooting on television. They said he was a ‘good kid’ who ‘never got in trouble’. Joaquin Oliver, 17, (right) was also killed. Joaquin was a Venezuelan immigrant who came to the US with his family for a ‘better future’, they said on Thursday
Gina Montalto, 15, (left) was described as a ‘light and joy’. She and Jaime, another victim, volunteered at a local project called The Friendship Initiative where they acted as buddies for children with special needs. Gina’s mother Jennifer shared pleas to find her on social media on Wednesday. Alaina Petty, 14, (right) was also killed. Her Mormon church confirmed her death, saying she was a ‘valiant’ member
Carmen Schentrup, 16, (left) was also killed in the shooting. Carmen was a gifted student who last year was named as a semifinalist in the 2018 National Merit Scholarship Program. It includes students who score above average in their SATs or National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test. ROTC student Peter Wang, 15, (right) also died. His parents speak little English and relied on their neighbor to post social media appeals looking for him. They went to the Marriott hotel with other parents to wait for news of him on Wednesday night and have since confirmed that he was among those killed
Alex Schachter, 14, (left) was also killed. His mother died when he was a child and he attended the school in Florida with his brother, who survived. The teenager’s father Max said he was a ‘sweetheart of a child’ who ‘just wanted to do well and please his parents’. Helena Ramsey, 17, (right) was described by relatives as a ‘reserved’ and studious girl who was due to go to college next year
Geography Scott Beigel, 35, (left) was shot dead as he tried to lock the door of his classroom again after letting a group of fleeing students in to hide. They were running away from the gunman. Aaron Feis, 37, (right) died acting as a human shield. The track coach had thrown himself on top of the kids to stop the bullets from hitting him. He was a former student and was also a security guard at the school where he had worked for eight years
Athletic director Chris Hixon, 49, was also killed shielding students