WATCH THE INTERVIEW ON THE 10 P.M. NEWSCAST ON TV OR LIVESTREAM
Thoughts of daughter Emily bring tears to the eyes of William Zeluff of Travis in Falls County. He recalls fondly the day she was born, May 10, 2016.
“It was like a gift, like an amazing gift,” Zeluff said.
Emily Lan Dung Zeluff was a healthy baby, but William said his wife was not.
He says Dung Ngoc Thi Do-Zeluff suffered from Parkinson’s Disease, anxiety, and most likely mental illness.
“It was obvious she was unstable,” Zeluff said. “She would say 'I’m thinking about hurting myself or thinking about hurting the baby.'”
Those thoughts led to a brief stay at a mental facility while Dung Ngoc was pregnant, Zeluff said. But because her threats were not specific and she didn’t seem to have a plan for killing Emily, Zeluff said doctors sent them home.
Zeluff said Child Protective Services set guidelines for the family once Emily was born that Dung Ngoc was not allowed to be alone with the baby - then came Halloween night.
On October 31, 2016, Zeluff said he came home from an appearance at a local event. Dung Ngoc’s mother had come to Travis from Vietnam to stay with the family and allow Zeluff to get out once and a while. But that night, he said his mother-in-law was apparently distracted by a television program and didn’t notice that Dung Ngoc had locked herself in the couple’s bedroom with baby Emily.
“I unlocked the door, and that’s when I saw my wife rocking the baby, rocking Emily,” Zeluff said. “I noticed something looked different with Emily.”
Zeluff said that’s when he realized his daughter wasn’t breathing. A family member called 911 ,and Zeluff said he started CPR on Emily. Paramedics arrived and took her to the hospital, but doctors there pronounced her dead.
The Falls County Sheriff’s Office arrested Dung Ngoc Zeluff and charged her with capital murder. A preliminary autopsy said Emily was suffocated, and an arrest affidavit says she had bruising on her neck. Exactly what happened to the baby will likely come out at trial, but no date has been set for that yet.
Zeluff has since moved to Colorado, saying the memories in the family’s home are too painful. He has a message for anyone who sees signs of mental illness in a loved one.
“If they’re making threats, it kind of seems like they’re crying wolf,” he said. “But you never know. You never really know. And you should take every one of those seriously.”
Copyright 2017 KXXV. All rights reserved.