Family of 2-year-old tragically killed fighting over custody of her remains

Posted at 6:59 PM, May 11, 2018
and last updated 2018-05-11 23:31:33-04

NORFOLK, Va. - The family of a 2-year-old girl who was killed in Ocean View is fighting over custody of her remains.

Harley Rae Williams tragically died in a case the Commonwealth is calling horrific. She had burns on 30 to 50 percent of her body. One week ago, a vigil was held in her honor.

Now, Harley's father, Ivan Williams, and maternal grandmother, Lois Love, are fighting over what to do now that her remains are back in Oklahoma, where most of her relatives are.

The fight is because Harley's mom, Shelby Love, is in jail, charged with felony child abuse. Love's boyfriend, John Hardee, has the same charge along with one for malicious wounding. The Commonwealth claims Hardee was alone with the two-year-old and sent text messages to Love around 4:30 p.m. on April 23, saying, "I’m going to prison" and "hurry home". According to them, the couple didn’t call 9-1-1 until about 11 hours later when the child began having seizures.

Court documents show a Norfolk Judge granted Lois Love next of kin Monday since Shelby is unable to carry out her duties as next of kin for the purposes of making funeral arrangements for Harley.

However, Ivan believes he is next of kin because he said his guardianship rights are still intact, despite divorce papers granting Shelby full custody. A clerk in Cleveland County, Oklahoma, News 3 spoke with confirmed there is no record of his rights being taken away.

A few days after Love was granted next of kin, Ivan sent the judge an email that said, "I'm not sure what exactly is going on" and as soon as he found out about Harley's death through an acquaintance almost a week after Lois Love did, he called the medical examiners office to claim his daughter, set up funeral arrangements and paid for them.

In the email, Ivan said he went to his local courthouse and got documents stating his rights were still intact and asked the judge if there's a way to stop the order. The email goes on to say his family has been looking for Harley for more than a year when Shelby fled with her and this situation makes everything "even more disgusting & sickening."

News 3 obtained court records showing a judge granted a protective order Shelby placed against Ivan in August 2016. The order states Ivan represents a credible threat to the physical safety of an intimate partner or child. The protective order is through August 26, 2021. There are also records showing Ivan violated that order a month later by driving by Shelby's place of employment while she was there.

Divorce papers say Shelby and Ivan got a divorce after three years of marriage. Shelby got custody of Harley and could get visitation if he completed parenting classes per Oklahoma state law. He didn't. However, the divorce papers state even though Shelby has custody, she has to tell Ivan if she moves more than 75 miles away for more than 60 days. Ivan's father, Roger Williams, said that didn't happen.

A clerk with Cleveland County was able to confirm Ivan is on probation but it doesn't have to do with any violence to children.

Kristi Hoffman, a family friend of Lois Love, told News 3 they offered to pay for two separate funerals for Harley. However, Ivan wanted Harley cremated after getting a lock of her hair to keep. His dad Roger said he wants Harley cremated to keep memories of her beautiful and pure.

Roger added Ivan also wants a headstone, which seals and holds her remains, to be placed in a cemetery where babies and young children are laid to rest so her half sisters and family could visit. Lois Love believes Harley deserves a proper burial.