LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – The children of a Los Angeles woman found dead at a Mexican resort last month will not be allowed to attend a memorial service for their mother Sunday, a judge ruled Friday.
A therapist hired by their father, a former “Survivor” producer named a “person of interest” in the investigation of his wife’s death, said the service could be emotionally harmful to the young children.
Mexican authorities detained the father, Bruce Beresford-Redman, as a suspect the day his wife’s body’s was found. He was released a day later.
Sunday’s memorial service is planned by Monica Beresford-Redman’s sisters, who are also fighting for custody of the children.
“We respect the decision of the court, but we are very disappointed the fact that the children were denied to participate in the celebration of their mother’s life,” Jeane Burgos said.
Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Mitchell Beckloff delayed any decision on changing the current custody arrangement. Beresford-Redman’s parents were given temporary custody last month after he was told by Mexican police to remain in the country while they investigated. He recently returned to Los Angeles and filed papers for custody to be returned to him.
The maternal sisters have also petitioned for permanent custody of the children, ages 3 and 5.
Beresford-Redman was not in court Friday because of the swarm of reporters at the Los Angeles County courthouse, his criminal defense lawyer said.
Defense Attorney Richard Hirsch used the gathering of journalists to ask that there not be “a rush to judgment” about Beresford-Redman. He said there have been other unsolved deaths and an attack at the Moon Palace resort, where Monica Beresford-Redman’s body was found in a sewer.
Hirsch cited the death of an elderly Scottish woman, who was found in a swamp weeks after leaving a pool for a walk, and a Canadian man who allegedly fell from a hotel balcony.
Jeff Toews, a Canadian, was found dead in May 2007. Investigators decided he died from a drunken fall from a balcony, but his family did not accept that explanation.
Julia Howard, a 77-year-old woman from Scotland, was found dead in a dense swamp six weeks after disappearing from a pool area last summer. Her family also rejected the police conclusion that her death was an accident.
A woman reported an attempted rape in her hotel room “several days after Mrs. Beresford-Redman’s body was discovered,” Hirsch said.
“We have brought this to the attention of the authorities and, in particular, to the attorney general in Cancun and asked them to pursue all leads before making a decision whether of not to charge our client,” Hirsch said. “We feel that this case should not be a rush to judgment.”
“There are strange things going on, I think, that need to be pursued,” he said.
A spokeswoman for the resort has not responded to a CNN request for comment.
The initial investigation suggested Monica Beresford-Redman “died of strangulation because of the bruising,” Mexican regional police spokesman Adrian Cardena said.
A source close to the wife has told CNN that she cleaned out the family bank account and took her two children to Hawaii because she was upset about her husband’s extramarital affair. The couple later traveled to Cancun in an effort to repair their marriage, the source said.
Bruce Beresford-Redman built his career as a Hollywood reality television show producer. He worked for several seasons on the popular CBS show “Survivor,” in which contestants compete against each other in a variety of extreme outdoor scenarios. He was nominated for three Emmy Awards as a producer on the show and was last credited as a producer in 2004.
He also worked on NBC’s “The Contender” and “The Restaurant,” as well as MTV’s “Pimp My Ride,” according to entertainment media company IMG.
Monica Beresford-Redman, a native of Brazil, owned a restaurant in Los Angeles.