A woman found slain in her Round Rock home in December after her two daughters were kidnapped left a will that named her husband as the legal guardian of her youngest child, according to the will.
The will of Tonya Bates, filed with the Williamson county clerk on Monday, names Josef Scheffler as her husband and the legal guardian of 7-year-old Luliviolette Bandera-Megret.
Bandera-Megret and her 14-year-old sister, Lilianais Griffith, were recovered unharmed in Colorado on Jan. 3 and are currently in temporary foster care. Terry Miles, 44, was charged with kidnapping the girls and is a person of interest in their mother’s death. He was Bates’ roommate.
Scheffler is not Bandera-Megret’s biological father, according to Bates’ will. His relationship with Bates was previously unclear. The two girls referred to him both as their mother’s boyfriend and their stepfather, according to a court report detailing how the girls were doing while in foster care.
Scheffler filed a petition in January seeking custody of Bandera-Megret. He later sought and was denied visitation by agreement with the girl at a court hearing that same month. The Texas Department of Family and Protective Services also filed a motion in January seeking to exclude him from the custody case.
A spokeswoman for the state agency declined to comment Wednesday about Bates’ will or why the agency was seeking to exclude Scheffler from the custody case.
“I do think it is unfortunate that the one person who Lulu’s mother said she wanted Lulu to be with if anything happened to her is not being allowed to have any sort of contact with her,” said Ian Pittman, one of Scheffler’s attorneys.
Bates, who was found dead from blunt force trauma at her Round Rock home on Dec. 31, said in her will that Scheffler had helped her raise her 7-year-old daughter since Bandera-Megret was 2 months old. The will also said that Bandera-Megret’s biological father, Leonardo Bandera, had refused to recognize her as his daughter on her birth certificate.
“Josef Gabriel Scheffler has immense love and attachment towards Luliviolette Bandera-Megret and she calls him Daddy and is unaware of her biological father at this time,” the will says.
Bates signed her will on Jan. 29, 2015. She and Scheffler did not have a marriage license but were considered to be informally married, said Pittman. The couple had been separated for 60 days when Bates was killed, Pittman said.
A friend of Bates’ found her will last week at her home after police allowed the friend to gather up some of Bates’ belongings, said Pittman.
The Department of Family and Protective Services received a report in March 2013 alleging that Scheffler hit Bates’ head on kitchen cabinets during an argument with her while Bates was holding Bandera-Megret, said a court report filed about the girls in January.
The report also said both girls had “vehemently expressed” how much they did not want to see Scheffler. “They said he was mean to their mother and to them,” according to the report.
Pittman said he didn’t know anything about the allegation that Scheffler hit Bates. He also said there was “no way of verifying” the statements made by the girls about Scheffler in the report. “You also have to remember that these girls were kidnapped by Terry Miles and you don’t know what he was telling them while they were kidnapped,” Pittman said.
The next hearing in the custody case is scheduled for March 1.
*This article has been corrected to reflect the fact that a petition Josef Scheffler filed seeking custody of Lulu Violette Bandera-Megret has not been denied. It has also been clarified to say that Scheffler was denied visitation by agreement.