(UPDATE 2: 5/5/2017) Follow-up article released. Goes over everything that’s happened since publishing this piece.
(UPDATE: 4/26/2017) Last night I had the pleasure of talking to James and Laura Britton. I was taken back at that conversational sincerity and felt a bit lost with words. Nice people. Their family was wonderful.
Mr. Britton is Mike Martin’s step-brother by the fact that Mike’s adoptive mother Audrey Martin married James’s father Charles Britton. James emphasized to me that he would not participate in any sort of witch-hunt, but given Mike Martin’s actions there needed to be consequences for that behavior. Mr. Britton believes the Martin family should’ve gotten straight to the point in their apology. What James saw was what he calls a “poor excuse” of one. He feels they revealed too much of their hand in the numerous appearances they made.
But to back it up a bit: Mike and James at one point in their lives were inseparable as step-brothers. He tells me DaddyOFive was passionate about drawing, and highly creative with the games he and James could put together.
“He was going to be in the limelight,” James told me.
While his prediction might have come true, it wasn’t exactly in the way anyone had anticipated. James Britton first became aware of the DaddyOFive situation after his kids watched Boogie2988 talk about it. He explained to me that he could identify Mike Martin by his laugh. Something that was in-grained into memory from his earlier years.
When it comes to the disciplinary styles that Mike uses on the children in the DaddyOFive videos, James told me those sorts of things came from Audrey’s influence. She was very possessive over her husband Charles, especially when it came to money-related matters. Audrey was described as an aggressive sort of person who tended to be excessive when it came to punishment (making Mike Martin write sentences over and over, etc). Mike had a tendency to blame everyone except himself when it came to his personal dilemmas. While he was an articulate child, Mike was incapable of coping with certain situations properly. If the school system wasn’t failing him, it was the teachers, or the students for something as minute as being too loud.
Audrey Martin died of a brain aneurysm in her mid-30s. Personally, Mike had a hard time coping with the loss. That was a turning point for the family: Charles had to give up the house, Mike went to live with his Grandmother, and James moved in with the person would become his wife. Mike’s younger sister Cortney went on to live with uncles. When James and Laura tried to reconnect with Mike and Cortney years later, they were against it. The Martins said they thought they were better off without them.
James wanted me to pass along a message to Mike directly, under the assumption he’d be reading this. “Good luck,” he wanted me to say to Mike. James says he’s going to need it when it comes to the hole he’s dug himself into here. He made it clear to me that they sided with Rose Hall on the custody dispute.
“I believe Cody and Emma should be with their birth-mother,” James said to me.
James Britton said his step-brother Mike Martin wanted fame, and he certainly got it. But it might’ve not been the sort of fame he was looking for.
(Below this line is the rest of the article, as initially published)
The subject of child abuse is a complicated and serious matter. In the past week the YouTube channel known as DaddyOFive has come under fire for the content of their videos. Primarily the public is concerned about the psychological abuse and damages that these videos depict.
The purpose of this article is to go over the different aspects of all that.
Imagine waking up to your father spraying silly-string in your face. Imagine him wearing a hockey mask and pile driving you awake one morning. Imagine living in a state of constant fear that whenever you got a new gaming system or tech device, it might be smashed into pieces in front of your eyes. Imagine that every time you fight with your brother or sister, there’s a high chance that it would be recorded and shared with hundreds of thousands of people.
Such was the DaddyOFive lifestyle. It might be “just a prank bruh” but the reality of it is that these actions are real.
The DaddyOFive YouTube channel features five children: Jake, Ryan, Alex, Cody, and Emma. Father of the family Mike Martin served as the head of this household, with his wife Heather standing behind every action he took.
There was a third parent that lived in this home – the camera.
Viewers on YouTube got a front-row seat to these people. The children acknowledged Camera as a fact of their clan. It watched them just as much as people online watched this family. In the heat of dramatic DaddyOFive “pranks” and vlogs, you can see on the faces of these kids that they don’t want to embarrass themselves while Camera had its eyes on them.
It’s this relationship with the public that brings us to the reason why there’s controversy with DaddyOFive in the first place. They’re not a YouTube channel about a dysfunctional family where they vlog their daily lives and pull pranks on each other.
The pranks are their lives. The line between what’s real and what’s staged is almost non-existent, and that becomes blatantly obvious the more you look into this YouTube channel . Alongside that comes the concern about the well-being and safety of the DaddyOFive children, as they endure a daily routine of schemes and hijinks orchestrated by their father and mother.
A comment from someone in Child Protective Services put it best. “These videos are promoting domestic violence. Even if the parents do it in the best of attention, you are teaching the rest of YouTube and your own children that causing violence and distress is okay, as long as it is a joke,” they said.
The DaddyOFive situation has been acknowledged by the relevant authorities. Most notably, council member Craig Rice of Montgomery County had stated his awareness of the DaddyOFive ordeal on Twitter. He corrected a commenter by saying the family lives in Fredrick County, and not Montgomery. Craig went on to say the DaddyOFive situation had reached the offices of state authorities and agencies.
As far as video titles in of themselves are concerned, many of the items on the DaddyOFive YouTube channel are focused on the children as a subject (1) and/or in some sort of escalated situation (2).
Here are the top 50 videos (with links to mirrors) that match these criteria alone: Dad DESTROYS sons PS4, Kid gets a BLACK EYE, Kids get the BELT!, Alex SLAPPED Emma in the FACE, LOST CHILD prank, Cody BEATS UP Alex, Dad SLAMS kid, Kid FIGHT ends in BLOODSHED, Kid gets ATTACKED in the shower, Dad BEATS Alex, Kid ELBOW DROPS brother, Jake makes Cody PSYCHO, Jake BEATS UP Alex, JAKE BEATS UP RYAN, JAKE CRUSHES CODY!!, Cody POOPS on the FLOOR, Kid DESTROYS brother’s room, Kid STEALS brothers XBOX, Kid goes crazy and beats up Big Brother, Kid gets Knocked out, kid DESTROYS Dads xbox, Kid Goes PSYCHO, Dad goes on a RAMPAGE, Room DESTRUCTION, Kid RUNS AWAY from home, Dad assaults sons face with boogers, Dad DESTROYS Sons iPhone, Kid has a MENTAL BREAKDOWN, Kids get kicked out, Kid starts a FIRE, IS JAKE GAY??, PSYCHO WIFE PULLS KNIFE ON HUSBAND!!, CODY GETS THE BELT!!, I’M SENDING CODY TO MILITARY SCHOOL!!, Cody BIT Alex, Cody gets BULLIED, Alex TERRORIZES Cody, RYAN CUT A HOLE IN THE CEILING!, RYAN GETS EGGED!!, FINDING CODY A NEW HOME, Emma BIT a CHUNK out of Cody!, EMMA BEATS UP CODY!!, DAD FORCES SON TO THROW AWAY HIS TOYS!!, Our house got ROBBED Prank, Ryan gets a SPANKING!, Dad POOPS on Cody, Dad blows up on Cody, Mom BEATS UP Dad, and USING CODY FOR TARGET PRACTICE!.
That does NOT even account for the “FAIL” category: Chucky prank FAIL, DAD BUYS A NEW HOUSE PRANK FAIL!, EXPLODING ketchup prank GONE WRONG, GHOST PRANK GONE WRONG!!!!!, Kid gets KICKED IN THE FACE (PRANK GONE WRONG), PRANK ON MOM GOES HORRIBLY WRONG (ENDS IN FIGHT)
Take a second look at some of those FAIL video titles. Which of those seem innocent? Which of those seem to be more serious?
DaddyOFive and MommyOFive both approve every video that goes up on the YouTube channel. There’s proof that Mike is the one that tends to render and post them, while his wife Heather looms from behind. The crude nature of the titles is intentional as a means to appeal to immature and young, impressionable audiences. The kids’ beating each other up was “awesome” to Mike. He once explained his tendency to yell was because he was half-deaf. But don’t think Mr. Martin doesn’t care about his image. People digging into the DaddyOFive catalog have come across at least one instance where Mike edited audio after the fact to lessen the severity of his inappropriate behavior. There’s questions as to what he censors when it comes to the kids, as best exemplified in this one instance seems to indicate that Emma Martin wanted to leave Mike’s place to go back to her biological mother’s house.
Back on that point.
The DaddyOFive Twitter account is entirely run by Mike directly. He surfaced for the first time from the far corners of the internet in July 2016. The brand’s identity revolved around him and protected it as such. In these earliest days, DaddyOFive was a gaming channel on Twitch.
The start of the pranks on Mike’s children came on July 8th:
I may have just done a prank on one of my kids and there might be a video coming soon maybe idk lol
His account spoke on the channel’s behalf. For something that’s allegedly a team effort, many tweets suggest Mike wanted the limelight to himself. It was more I than We. For example, in an image titled Team D.O.5. one would expect to see the whole family. Instead it was just Mike. But when he wanted to elevate his social status further, they were a means to an end.
Follow me, because my kids. However, at the same time Mike is more than happy to mock their emotions, for YouTube money. Emma’s crush on Dashie was used for prank content, yet Mike gave a much higher degree of respect to filming his own emotions. Cody was singled out here as well.
While the children weren’t allowed to have personalized social media accounts of their own, Mike Martin used the platform as an extension of his own desires. It was a tool to embarrass the children further, where possible. Depict them in whatever positive or negative light he saw fit. But the tendency fell to new videos depicting kid’s emotional strife, tears, discomfort, conflict, and adversity. Mike wanted the audience to normalize the anger, angst, and antics.
To the viewer, these kids are eating shit literally and figuratively. For the sake of entertainment, the spotlight was on Cody for poop one week and piss the next. DaddyOFive’s followers came for that type of content, and Mike encouraged it. He once retweeted a fan video that highlighted Cody hitting his sister. At what cost does their YouTube Play Button Award come with?
While the DaddyOFive’s channel collection of videos was made private as a response to this controversy, a mirror of everything is available at archive.org.
The presentation of the video needs to be separated from the actual way events unfold within. Compilations of DaddyOFive’s most controversial moments are popping up on the web. The people making these have a plethora of examples to choose from in this debacle. There’s playlists dedicated to this sort of thing, with one example being a 21 part series dedicated to the topic of Cody Martin getting upset. In itself that builds a strong argument that DaddyOFive’s channel singled out Cody more so than any other family member.
Here’s a list of six different videos that suggest some level of emotional, mental, or physical abuse is taking place inside the DaddyOFive household.
- August 2nd 2016, “End of the World PRANK”: The thumbnail for the video is Cody’s face screaming with a nuclear explosion behind him. According to Mike in the introduction, the prank entailed using an emergency broadcast recording from YouTube in order to trick Alex and Cody into believing a nuclear holocaust was coming. The focus of the video ends up falling on Cody because Alex caught onto the ploy. When it comes to watching the prank unfold, the video cuts away to the kids watching the alert on TV. Mike or Heather integrated the clip into their device setup to make it seem more convincing. Someone flips the channel to a different station and a separate fake emergency broadcast is blaring. Cody looks confused, concerned, and puzzled at everything. “ARE WE GONNA BE OK?” a worried Cody asks. “No, do you see that?!” says Ryan. “ARE WE GONNA DIE?” Cody responds, heightening his concern. “Yeah!” Different warnings are shown playing on the TV, increasing in their threatening tone and severity as the video plays. Cody cries and hides under his blanket, freaking out. The other kids seem to be in on it at this point. The oldest one calls Mike, and you can see a subtle smirk on his face as Ryan turns and goes up the stairs. “Dad I’m really scared,” the eldest kid half-heartedly says. Cody frantically asks what’ll happen to the family pets. “I’m so scared,” he says repeatedly. “At least I get to record the last of us,” the kid holding the camera replies. Part of the prank is the eldest son staying on the phone with the father, telling him he sees masses of vehicles driving down the street. Using “they” to describe this ominous apocalyptic force, the eldest kid informs Cody that Mike told him “they” are invading people’s houses. The eldest son throws Cody into a panic by telling him these invaders have guns. “Dad says he went to the shelter already. He said we have to stay here until someone gets here.” Cody has a meltdown, begins balling his eyes out. “I WANT MY DADDY!!,” he shouts. The two boys go up to Cody’s room and rush him to put his survival clothes on. BANG BANG BANG is heard strongly from the front door. Cody screams in shock at the noise. The two boys demand the frightened lad hide under his bed while they answer the door. Mike (finally) shows up and hurriedly gathers up the kids to go in the car. Cody seems genuinely relieved to see him. Shoving everyone in his vehicle to continue this drawn-out gag, Mike assures the kids there’s apocalyptic alerts blaring on every media outlet possible. “THE WHOLE HOUSE IS ABOUT TO GET BOMBED,” Mike shouts. Cody asks what’ll happen to the family’s dogs, and DaddyOFive tells him they’re done for. He ends up taking the kids to a park, saying there’s a shelter there. “I want Daddy! Daddy!!!,” Cody says while rushing back to the car. “No! I can’t be having all you kids with me, I’ll make it better if I don’t have 5 kids. I’ll see ya later!!,” Mike tells him as he begins driving off. But then he comes right back. Laughing. Everyone tells Cody it was just a prank.
- September 17th 2016, “Kid starts a FIRE”: Thumbnail shows Cody surrounded in flames. Heather Martin opens the video by explaining that Cody had experimented with fire recently, leading to Mike and her giving him a talk about the dangers of it. In the very next sentence she says it makes for a believable prank. Heather had a friend pretend to be Cody’s teacher and call her house to leave a voicemail, claiming that Cody had lit toilet paper on fire with a lighter. The first half of the video ends up being an argument where Cody is aware his parent’s shouting is a ruse, and in return Mike and Heather scream at him in denial of that. Half-way through, they finally cave and admit to it being a prank, laughing at Cody. Visibly upset, Cody grabs a kitchen chair or two and slams them on the ground. He attempts to retreat to his room to calm down but a smirking Mike and jeering Heather follow him with the camera. Cody tries hiding under his blanket for refuge, but Mikes tears them away. Still giggling at his frustration, Mike snatches Cody’s shirt as the lad has his face turning away from the camera in one last effort at some privacy and Heather belittles him that he needs to “take a joke.” Directly requesting his parents for some time to himself, they shoot the idea down and keep the camera rolling. “TAKE A JOKE! YOU’RE THE ONLY IN THE HOUSE THAT CAN’T TAKE A JOKE AND GOT TO ACT LIKE A BUTTHOLE!” Heather shrieked at the cowering child. Crying into his pillow, Cody is upset that the situation depicted him as a crazy person.
- September 25th 2016, “TABLET DESTRUCTION prank”: REMOVED for violating community guidelines. Thumbnail showed Cody visibly upset and shouting. Earlier that week, Cody was featured in a thumbnail where he’s getting kicked in the face. Mike tells us in the introduction that Jake was going to smash Cody’s new tablet. Unbeknownst to him, Mike had purchased a second tablet that day for the purpose of this ruse cruise. But according to Mr. Martin’s Twitter, the tablet’s destruction was something that definitely happened. The tone of the video is highly serious, as it’s made clear through Mike’s and Jake’s body language that they were invested in this. In targeting Cody and making the situation appear legitimate. At [1:28] for no reason whatsoever Mike unplugs Cody’s xbox in the middle of a game he was playing. Cody is puzzled and agitated at this random act, and Jake roughs the youngster up by pushing him out of his chair. Mike refuses to leave the room after Cody requests it. “No! We came in here to get the tablet going,” Mike responded. Cody actually makes an effort to accommodate his father’s wishes. At [2:07] he tries to return to his previous activity. “BOY I’LL SMASH THAT DAMN XBOX,” Mike threatens Cody. The child becomes flustered at the illogical reasoning his father has here. After a back and forth argument, Cody tells Jake to be careful with the tablet and put it in its case. Doing the complete opposite, Jake informs Cody that he’s resetting the tablet and putting everything under his name. Mike completely ignores the fact Jake is clearly upsetting Cody, and the only outlet for Cody to express his frustration is hitting Jake with objects. [4:46] Cody tries to escape the bedroom and cool off, but Mike is blocking the exit. Instead of allowing him to leave, Mr. Martin resists and pushes Cody into a bookcase. Among the fury, Jake throws the tablet at the window. Mike mildly scolds him for that as the device lands somewhere behind the TV. Fishing it out from back there while Cody makes an attempt to intervene: Jake takes the tablet, slams it on the ground, and slaps it on the walls of the room. Cody breaks down crying as a result. It’s unclear at this point if it was because of the escalating situation that happened leading up to the tablet’s destruction, or the destruction of the tablet itself. In a tearful state of misery, Cody locks himself in the bathroom to try and get away from the crowded area he had been essentially trapped in up to this point. While Mike is screeching at Cody to open up the door, Jake is taking a hammer to the tablet to finish the prank. His father returns to the room and feigns surprise at this action. “I can understand giving a little bit of hell, but really?,” Mike shouts at Jake. Mr. Martin finally gets Cody to open up the bathroom door, and the two argue about what had just happened. [7:20] shows Cody in a peak state of frustration and upset. Pretending to still be going along with this prank, Mike deflects as Cody tries to explain his emotional state to him. Forcing the kid back to his room he acknowledges the camera for the first time. “You don’t need the camera for this,” Cody tells Mike. The father slides out of Cody’s room and into Jake’s to “yell” at him. At [10:00] we see Jake smirking victoriously. Mike turns the camera on himself and expresses a face of silent laughter at Cody’s reaction.
- October 13th 2016, “Jake makes Cody PSYCHO”: There’s not even a prank involved in this video. As outlined by Jake in the introduction, the only thing he planned to do was go to Cody’s room and sit in it. That’s exactly what he does. Without saying a word to him, Jake sits on Cody’s bed pointing the camera at him. Silent. “What?” Cody asks. Over and over. When Jake doesn’t answer, Cody shouts for Mike to come into the room. Jake throws a pillow and slams a toy robot off of Cody’s table. Cody continues to desperately yell for Mike, eventually getting a reply to “SHUT UP” as he was trying to work. This is a 24 minute long video. At the 3 minute mark, Cody starts to tear up after being stressed out about what was happening. By the five minute mark, Jake is attempting to access a private drawer of Cody’s, and the child fends off his older brother’s attempts to open it. “WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON?” Mike says as he finally enters the room. Focusing entirely on Cody, he yells at the distressed child to “get up off his ass” and come to Mike if he had a problem. This back and forth between the two continues, and it becomes clear by the tone of the words exchanged that Mike was mad at Cody instead of Jake altogether. Finally shooing Jake out of the room, the eldest son does so momentarily before proceeding to barge back in. He opens Cody’s draw to provoke the child’s ire even further. Slamming it shut, Cody hugs his entire body around this drawer to serve as a barrier. Mike arrives back in the room just in time to see Cody begin shaking profusely [7:45] as a physical reaction to the amount of stress he was under. Mike laughs at the sight of his exhausted and infuriated son. He tells Cody that he can’t take him seriously when he’s “wiggling like a fish.” Jake goes on to bully Ryan while he’s playing Xbox. When he leaves the room, Jake sneaks back in with Alex. They shout obscenities at Ryan’s friends in the voice chat, disconnect the system, remove it from Ryan’s room and stash it somewhere else in the house. This entire video is essentially Jake fighting his siblings and pushing them to get angry. Mike stands by apathetically and just let’s it happen. What was the point of this video? I don’t even think Mike watched it before he uploaded. Cody has a breakdown later on starting at 18:10, and Mike sits there incapable of calming him down in any capacity. He just films it.
- November 2nd 2016, “LOST CHILD prank”: It’s impossible for Mike Martin’s pranks to take a holiday, as he hatches a scheme for a YouTube video on the same day as Emma’s birthday. The first 17 minutes of this video is actually a vlog. Breaking the mold of DaddyOFive videos, this particular one doesn’t structure itself around the prank as its peak. In addition to that, this vlog takes us outside the Martin household and follows them in a public setting. The standard sort of yelling and explosive behavior doesn’t apply here. What does carry over into this new backdrop is the singling out of Cody. In the simple act of finding out what food the kids are ordering [8:26], Mike still finds a reason to be critical of Cody’s choices. The contrast is prevalent more so as the vlog continues. In one minute Mike is talking about something with the YouTube channel and some sort of bracelets they had made, but the next his attention is laser-focused on Cody’s every move at the dinner table. It casts a shadow on the rest of the meal intended on celebrating Emma’s birthday. [17:08] is when Mike and the rest of the family hide from Cody while he’s coming back from trip to the Mall restroom. What starts out as a walk turns into a frantic run from the can, as Cody looks around quizzically attempting to reunite with his parents. He calls out for his mother, and you can see the boy’s lip quiver as a sense of dread sets in. Cody begins asking strangers if they’ve seen his family, only to find Mike and the rest of the gang reappear to tell him it was just a prank. Heather chides him, rubbing the mockery of it all in. “Now he’s all salty,” Heather says when describing the look of betrayal that came across Cody’s face when he realized his parents had pretended to abandon him in a shopping mall for a cheap laugh. Clearly distraught at what had just happened, Heather bluntly explains the whole family hid on purpose just to see his reaction. As if the boy was incapable of understanding that on his own. [19:01] Cody takes a moment to explain the potential consequences and dangers of what they had done. “Really? Alls we did is hide behind the Coke machine,” Heather snapped. “So what? It’s called a prank. We pranked you. Stop being salty.” As the family leaves the mall, Heather and Mike belittle Cody for being upset about the prank. “That would’ve been hilarious,” Heather told Cody when he said he was about to wander off looking for them. At [22:35] Mike corners Cody by a mall game machine and sneers at him that he’s been “bad” the whole time the family was out that evening. “What’s your deal?,” Mike told Cody.
- February 24th 2017, “CODY BAD IN SCHOOL!!”: A visibly tired and irritable Mike Martin greets us with the camera while prepping Cody and Emma to go somewhere that morning. It’s never really explained. Cut away to Emma and Alex ascending the stairs with the camera to see if Cody cleaned his room. A defiant Cody smacks Emma and camera kid with headphones to fend them off. An infuriated Mike attempts to quell the conflict with little success, and he howls his way up the stairs to inspect Cody’s bedroom.”They don’t need to be recording in my room, get that camera out of here,” Cody tells Mike. There’s more arguing, with Mr. Martin yelling at Alex to tell him to “BACK OFF,” from him and Cody. Mike threatens Cody was going to “lose his level” if the room wasn’t clean by the time the children went to school. Video jump-cuts to that point in the day. As the kids are getting ready to leave, Mike is irate when Cody tells him that he didn’t have time to finish cleaning. At [4:55] Mr. Martin tells the audience in the interim he wasn’t recording their day, he heard Cody rough-housing and making noise upstairs. But more importantly, this raises the question of the camera being a parenting tool in the Martin house. It lingers in the silence of us watching Cody quietly zip up his backpack and put on his jacket before departing for school. After dropping them off, Mike comes back home and takes a tour of Cody’s room. He laments to us his regrets that he might’ve shaken the boy’s confidence at school for the day. [7:20] in the video, and we’re at the end of the school day. “They all better pray to God that they all had a good day,” Mike remarked. He begins demanding school charts from each of the kids. When getting to Emma, we see the young girl’s face go petrified. “I forgot it at school but i did good today I promise,” she says with a wide-eyed assurance. When Cody returns from his room with his chart, Mike snatches it out of the boy’s hands. I shit you not, DaddyOFive added dramatic background music to this section of the video. Where he’s reading the personal notes Cody’s teacher wrote, for the whole internet to hear. We then learn Cody spent his school day scratching at his arm to make it bleed instead of focusing on his school work. “WHY THE FUCK ARE YOU SCRAPING YOUR ARM TO MAKE IT BLEED? WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOUR HEAD?,” shrieks Mike. Cody denies it, but Mike grabs him by the arm and shoves the camera lens into focus on Cody’s bandages there. We see an angry Mike berate a clearly embarrassed Cody for the next few minutes. “I DIDN’T GO TO A MEETING AND WORK THINGS OUT WITH THE SCHOOL SO YOU COULD JUST DO WHATEVER YOU WANT,” Mike exclaimed. “This basically says that you didn’t do SHIT. All day, and was BAD as HELL. THIS HAS BEEN YOUR WORST DAY OF THE WHOLE ENTIRE DAMN WEEK.” Hanging his head in shame, Mr. Martin orders Cody to get his personal items out of the upstairs room – as he had lost the “level” Mike had been referring to here. The distressed youngster tries to explain the difficulties he had in the classroom, and Mike wrote them off completely. “The world does not revolve around you,” he said to Cody.” [12:47] “You have issues? That’s your problem. That’s how the world works. “The world don’t give a damn about your issues, the world don’t give a damn that you can’t focus. You think the world gives a damn you’re crying right now? No.” The rest of the video hold this tense atmosphere, as we see Mike’s attempt at parenting the DaddyOFive children.
There’s an established pattern of behavior on the DaddyOFive YouTube videos. A YouTuber by the name of Mister Metokur has an analysis of this up on his channel, where he goes over the tone and mood of the videos themselves. He provides a series of instances of emotional abuse (many of which are different from my own) when it came to how Mike treated Cody Martin.
This is what led YouTube’s Philip DeFranco to shine a spotlight on the situation. It was based on the concerns people already had.
DeFranco began on April 17th with WOW… We Need To Talk About This…, bringing attention to the DaddyOFive YouTube channel. He tells us the vlog/prank channel that heavily involved the family’s children was receiving blowback for an invisible ink prank video. Heather Martin devised a scheme to dump this ink all over a bedroom floor and blame Cody for the mess.
The original video he’s referring to was uploaded five days earlier on the 12th according to DaddyOFive’s Twitter. YouTube removed it “for violating YouTube’s policy on harassment and bullying,” but mirrors exist for the sake of providing context.
(UPDATE: Well. They were. YouTube is taking mirrors of DaddyOFive videos down.)
While the introduction is sweet, the carrying out of this prank is nothing short of harrowing. Escalating into screeching, shouting, and excessive swearing from Mike and Heather to the child. Cody repeatedly explains to them until he’s visibly red in the face that he had no idea what they were talking about, while the other DaddyOFive children look visibly uncomfortable and stressed all the meanwhile.
“What I saw in the video […] is emotional abuse,” says a licensed therapist that responded to the situation.
A psychologist had this to say, when Inside Edition reported on the video:
Psychologist Dr. Jeffrey Gardere told Inside Edition, “It may have been well-intentioned and maybe they thought it was funny, but I saw it as something that was very difficult for the kids to go through.
After publishing this to YouTube, there was a public outcry of concern from viewers. One of these concerned parties was worried that Cody had suffered bleeding after he was shoved into a bookshelf during the TABLET DESTRUCTION video. Denying it and saying it was red ink (that just happened to be in the same place on Cody’s pillow where his nose was), Mike Martin would end up replying to people’s unease with a video. BLOCKING ALL THE HATERS! uploaded on April 16th addressed the invisible ink prank. While the video itself was made private, the Twitter thread from DaddyOFive on the subject shows people were already very concerned about what was going on here. Mike and Heather Martin treated the allegation of child abuse as if it wasn’t of any concern. Under the eye of the camera, the DaddyOFive kids say they are not traumatized. And that people are just jealous of their YouTube channel. Heather takes it further and accuses the “haters” expressing their worries as the problem to the family. Onward further still, she claims the family was already investigated by child protective services and says to the viewers that nothing was found.
Phil takes the time to explain that he’s biased when it comes to reporting child abuse stories as he was a victim of that himself, but he assures viewers he still tries to go about it as fairly even as possible.
Philly D followed up with the story, releasing “YouTube Abuse Scandal Apology And Why It Fails To Fix Anything” on the 18th. He tells us the media traction was gaining on the DaddyOFive situation, getting coverage from a multitude of outlets.
We have had a family meeting and reviewed many comments and concerns. We discussed different alternatives for our future videos and ways we can improve. We deeply apologize for your feelings of concern. We DO NO condone child abuse in any way, shape, or form. As many of our friends and family would tell you we are a loving, close knit family and all enjoy making YouTube videos and having fun together. Thank you for your love and support. Sincerely, TEAM D.O.5
Phil himself was able to find more instances of the children being the subject of ridicule and attack by their own family within the 24 hours since his original video. He noted that the DaddyOFive audience was going to come to the defense of the channel, and the increased attention would cause the subscriber count to spike.
The DaddyOFive channel had attempted to continue their regularly scheduled programming in spite of this ordeal. The family went to Disney World without taking Cody. Mike seems disappointed to announce that fact to the audience, but Heather is more than willing to embarrass Cody by telling everyone he allegedly smeared poop everywhere. According to Phil, psychologists see this as a warning sign of OCD, PTSD, anxiety and depression. Heather Martin expresses her desire that Cody would be “normal,” and whatever his mental issues are were something out of the ordinary. Heather Martin calls Cody crazy.
KEEMSTAR is a YouTuber who reports on drama news related to other channels on the website. As a means of juxtaposition to the side of the argument DeFranco was taking with DaddyOFive, Keem reached out to the family and uploaded an interview with them on the evening of the 18th. When considering the idea of taking a break, both Mike and Heather asserted that they didn’t want to disappoint the fanbase on the YouTube channel. When it came to talking about Child Protective Services and their investigation of the channel, Mike and Heather allude to the reasoning being for a video that none of the recent criticism had uncovered as of yet (as well as their content library up to that point). The kids were interviewed individually, both in the household and at the children’s school. On top of that – friends and acquaintances were questioned, according to Heather. The alleged conclusion of that was there had nothing actionable although they found DaddyOFive’s videos “distasteful,” apparently.
After uploading, a lot of feedback on Keem’s video was negative despite the fact he asked the questions people had and didn’t dance around it. The video itself would be talked about by DeFranco the following day.
But before that, the DaddyOFive story would receive an unexpected twist.
On the evening of the 18th, a YouTuber by the name of Chambers of My Heart had uploaded an interview with Rose Hall and Crystal Reynolds. The former is the biological mother of DaddyOfFive’s Cody and Emma, and the latter is Rose’s sister. We’ll go in-depth about that discussion at a later point in the piece. In short, they are incredibly worried for the safety and well-being of these kids. “If my kids are listening to this I hope they know I never forgot about them, and I never gave them away. And I love them and I miss them every day. And I wish I could give them a hug and kiss,” she told Chambers.
If you jump to [23:39] in the video, you can hear Rose’s, Crystal’s, and their family’s reaction to Cody and Emma appearing on Inside Edition in a report on the DaddyOFive scandal.
I reached out to Chambers and asked them how they managed to find Rose.
I made my own video on the ink prank and Rose left a few comments on my channel telling me who she was. At first I thought it was a joke until I followed the link to a montage video of photos with Cody Emma and her. I then gave her my personal cell and we had a small conversation over the phone. I asked her if I could interview her. She said yes and brought in her sister too. Once the interview was complete, I was on twitter and came across the link to a live stream between YouTubers talking about the DaddyOFive situation. I began spamming the live chat with request to get in exclaiming how important it was for me to do so. Eventually, I was allowed in and explained what was going on. During the stream I uploaded the interview onto YouTube and VidMe, and it started to get around as the stream had been going on for a few hours by then. A few more of the bigger youtubers dropped by (MrRepzion, Andy Warski, Jeff Holliday) and they all pitched in to get a hold of their contacts to spread the word. Before I knew it, the interview was showing up everywhere.
Posted on the evening of the 18th was a short clip titled False accusations are killing my family, posted exclusively via Mike Martin’s Twitter (YouTube Mirror). The Martin family is gathered around the living room, Heather is crying profusely while Mike is filming them all. He tells the children to listen to the interview done by Chambers of My Heart. The first intelligible words out of Heather’s mouth are her telling Mike she wants to make a video, and plans for filming. The fact they decided to record such a sensitive moment aside, Heather’s focus was on making a video.
A third DeFranco video DISGUSTING! Deleted Video Exposes HUGE Problem In DO5 YouTube Scandal came out on April 19th. After summarizing the events that transpired in the previous installments, Phil points out the Child Protective Services in Montgomery County were unaware of DaddyOFive’s videos until they had been brought to their attention by the public.
Phil then talks about a deleted video on Mike Martin’s YouTube channel that showcases another example of child endangerment and irresponsible parenting. Within the DaddyOFive clip, we’re introduced to a game devised by Mike where the kids flip a water bottle in the hopes that it lands up-right onto a table. If it doesn’t, the participant gets slapped in the face by the other child playing.
“You know you don’t hit girls.” Martin said at first. “BUT SHE’S YOUR SISTER SHE DON’T COUNT.”
Alex slaps his step-sister in the face. The *SMACK* sound as it happens is a clear indicator that it was hard and point-blank contact.
“OHHHH MY GODDDD,” Martin said to the camera in reaction.
Going on to highlight the Keemstar interview that took place with the Martins, Phil points out to the viewer that Mike claimed the videos are edited to make the situations appear worse than they actually are. Heather spoke in more detail about Cody, saying the child’s reactions were “sometimes” real and other instances were exaggerated. DaddyOFive goes on to say that Heather’s claim that Cody smeared shit on the walls was not true. Mike says the “HE PUT POOP EVERYWHERE” excuse was a replacement for the real reason and that he apparently didn’t want to embarrass Cody. DeFranco points out the contradiction that Mike didn’t want to embarrass Cody, and in lieu of that gave a highly embarrassing fictitious ordeal that is as equally embarrassing instead. In the Keemstar interview Heather is willing to discuss private aspects of Cody at length, such as her concerns that he had a tendency to wander off on his own. She goes on to tell millions of people that Cody goes to a counselor, and that the family has gone themselves. DeFranco provides the counter-example of Heather telling Mike that she wished Cody would act “like a normal child,” and clearly saying to the viewers that neither of them know what’s wrong with him. When it came to Mike pushing Cody into a bookcase in the Tablet Destruction video, Mr. Martin claimed it wasn’t intended to harm and only a result of reflex.
DeFranco then talks about Family Destroyed Over False Aquisations [sic] which came out early in the morning of April 19th, currently the only available video on the DaddyOFive YouTube channel. Mike says the videos are fake, despite his previous statements claiming they were real.
Martin says he puts “For Entertainment Purposes Only” in the video descriptions. The problem with that assertion is that there’s clear indication that these disclaimers were added only after the recent controversy began with the DaddyOFive YouTube channel. Mike says he used keywords like “fake” in the description, whereas DeFranco counter-argues with evidence that Mike used “real freakout video” as well.
DaddyOFive apologizes for the situation getting out of hand. But then he keeps going. He tries to pin the blame entirely on Philip DeFranco in the face of indications for concern from the community showing up as early as October 2016. Phil was not the first person to complain about DaddyOFive’s behavior. A youngster YouTuber made a video condemning DaddyOFive back in February. Mike tells viewers that the controversy has caused danger to his family, they’ve received death threats, and that someone tried to run his wife Heather off the road. The problem with that claim is that a source familiar with this DaddyOFive situation checked with police and they were told that no complaints about death threats or anything of the sort were received.
At the end of the video, Phil DeFranco reveals that the biological mother of Cody and Emma Martin had recently stepped forward and tell her side of the story.
Up to this point, we had only known the elements of the DaddyOFive situation from the perspective of the YouTube channel. What Mike and Heather Martin showed everyone is all the public had saw.
KEEMSTAR made an effort to let the Martins respond to the controversy in an interview. He wasn’t the only big YouTuber to do so, either.
A YouTuber by the name of Boogie2988 tried to offer his assistance to Mike Martin and his family during this tumultuous period. You can watch his video on the topic to understand how personal it all was to him. His initial approach was to offer guidance on how to navigate the situation from a public relations standpoint, but it quickly became clear to Boogie2988 that this situation is not normal. According to him, Martin was going to need to make a 180 degree U-turn from his style of content. The kids were going to need to be seen in a happier environment in the videos, and have a child advocate come into the home to evaluate everything is safe. Not only in the day-to-day lives of the family, but help set a positive tone for filming as well.
Boogie told viewers Mike Martin had reasons and excuses to deflect every ounce of advice he had to offer. This came after Heather’s commitment to KEEMSTAR that she would make something happen. Even if the circumstances had DaddyOFive’s children filming in a 100% fake sort of arrangement, child advocates would be essential, he said.
“Today’s the day that I’m walking away from the situation,” Boogie concluded.
Keemstar himself, who was heavily defending DaddyOFive initially, could not deny cause for concern after the Alex slapping Emma video came to his attention. He sounded really disappointed, highlighting in his response video that Mike Martin had no sense of proper judgement as a parent when he thought it was okay to upload a video of his son slapping his daughter. Further on in the video KEEMSTAR said the parents needed to be in jail.
“You can’t justify that no matter what,” he reflected about it all.
What Boogie2988 doesn’t realize is that his experiences with DaddyOFive mirror the hardships faced by Mike Martin’s ex-wife Amy. I was able to track her down and ask her to reminisce about the years she spent married (2009-2011) to DaddyOFive. This marriage was the interim between his relationship with Rose, and his eventual meeting with Heather.
It’s through her that I learned more about Mike’s upbringing. He grew up in Baltimore City, going in and out of institutions all the way up through his attending at Landsdowne High School. DaddyOFive dropped out in the 10th grade and never obtained a G.E.D. Mike’s birth mother wanted nothing to do with him, and his adoptive parents died while DaddyOFive was very young. According to her, Mike said he attempted suicide at age 5. Amy says Mike Martin is bi-polar, and believes he has ADD along with a learning disability. He refused to get treatment for these mental impairments.
Amy also spoke on video about Mike Martin, doing an interview with the Gumpkin YouTube channel. Mike had begun talking to Amy in 2008 via AOL instant messenger while he was still with Rose, confessing to Amy he was unhappy in his relationship. What caused her to fall in love with Mike was his neediness, and by 2009 they had ended up married. Mike was persistent that Amy’s previous kid called him “daddy,” as if he was the sole paternal influence. That possessive aspect to his personality was something Amy found comforting. When it came to being a father figure to Amy’s 3-year old son, she says Mike was strict and demanded respect from the lad. Initially Amy was fine with this, but Mike took it an extreme. Amy said her child lived in fear. In my conversation with her, Amy said Mike wanted the father to relinquish his rights to the kid. When the child would come home from school, DaddyOFive would search their backpack to see if they got into any trouble. Mike Martin’s parenting style is described as a desire for complete control over all aspects of the child’s life. Amy felt like a prisoner in her own home. Mike called her a “fatass” and verbally hauled over the coals for months about losing weight.
“It still haunts me to this very day,” she told Gumpkin.
Friends and acquaintances in Amy’s life told her that something was wrong with Mike. In response she went to lengths with defending him. Cody and Emma didn’t visit Mike and Amy until the Summer of 2011. According to Amy, Mike treated her own son worse than Cody. But even so DaddyOFive had viewed him as a “problem” child (which he would later exploit for his YouTube channel). Mike referred to Emma as a “retard.”
Later that Summer, Amy hit the boiling point with Mike. After she came home from a long and stressful work day, the house was an absolute disaster. The kids were fooling around and doing their own thing, but an apathetic Mike did not care to tend to any of it. The pattern for the past two years was an unemployed Mike would sit around the house and play xbox all day, while none of the chores or daily upkeep was properly attended to. The kid didn’t even get dinner at times. In my conversation with Amy, she told me Mike’s grandmother had to send them money because of their financial struggles.
Amy took care of all that. One day it just became too much.
“Get off your lazy ass you bastard and help me,” Amy told Mike.
In the argument that spiraled between the two afterwards, we learn that Mike expected Amy’s help to find a job. He expected Amy’s help to get a driver’s license and education. The only thing Mike did on his own was shoot YouTube videos and do photoshops of himself (even with YouTube Mike was helpless at times). He also played pranks on his wife and kid, but they were more simple and innocent in nature than the things seen on the DaddyOFive YouTube channel.
Amy kicked Mike out of her apartment. He had nothing but a TV, computer, and desk.
Mike’s ex-wife Amy thinks Cody and Emma need a more stable home environment than the one they’re currently in now. She urges Martin to get help in dealing with and overcoming his troubled childhood and personal disorders. When it comes to Rose Hall, Amy vouches on her behalf and testifies that she’s a “sweet girl” that just wants her children back.
Rose Hall is the biological mother of Cody and Emma Martin. She’s deeply concerned about the possible abuse that goes on in the DaddyOFive home. It’s difficult for her to watch these YouTube videos where the viewer sees both Mike and Heather put their hands on these kids when they reprimand them.
The only reason I’m discussing Rose Hall’s side of the story in this article is because DaddyOFive and Heather Martin had mentioned her themselves in one of their videos.
[4:48] Starting with Heather:
And one thing we really do have to touch on now, unfortunately, is, we are a blended family. We thought that was common sense. We don’t look at each other like that. Those kids are *mine*, Cody and Emma are *my* kids just as much as Jake, Ryan, and Alex are. And for us to have to say that, because –
[5:10] Mike Martin interjects:
It’s hard. We didn’t want to say anything because we didn’t want anyone to look at our kids differently.
[5:17] Back to Heather:
And someone had some interview with the kid’s biological mother…. and you know, it broke me down. Because they said “we have their real mother.” I’M their real mother. I saved those kids.
[5:31] Mike again:
The real mother is the one who takes care of you.
[5:34] Finally, Heather says:
And you have no idea what these kids have actually been through.
Rose Hall has the right of reply when it comes to the accusations made at her in this video. Mike and Heather allude to a battle for custody of the children that took place between themselves and Rose through 2014 and 2015. The emotionally charged statements made by the Martins lack sufficient and necessary context required to fully understand this complicated matter. Conversely, it was irresponsible for them to mention these facts in the first place within this particular setting. None of the Martin children are responsible for causing the massive public scandal the YouTube channel finds itself in. By making the claims that Mike and Heather did in light of those circumstances, conflates the matter as if it was just “DRAMA” and not a legal dispute.
To start to understand Rose Hall’s place in the DaddyOFive controversy, we need to revisit the Chambers of My Heart interview mentioned earlier in this article. This debut was a spark to the public discussion about the situation, and it came at exactly the right time to gain momentum on social media.
At the crux of this whole legal tussle is a Custody Order from September 2014. It would cast a shadow over Rose’s, Cody’s and Emma’s lives as Ms. Hall had to contend with Mike and Heather Martin over how the Order was to be carried out. The wording of the document was loosely interpretative enough that it gave an extreme advantage to Mike and Heather over rose.
Rose has never been married. She started dating Mike in 2004 after she had moved to Maryland. Emma was born in October of 2005, and Mike allegedly became abusive after that. Rose committed to a relationship with her child’s father, and ended up having Cody in May 2007. Mike left in August of 2008 – not long after Cody turned 1.
“Mike Martin (daddyofive) left back in 2008 when Cody was 1 and Emma was almost 3. My sister took care of those kids by herself with no money or help from him for almost 7 years,” Crystal Reynolds said.
In 2011 Mike was given a second chance to be a father figure and take care of Cody.
She called CPS and Teddy Bear at some point in 2012 because Mike leveled sexual abuse accusations against Crystal Reynold’s ex-husband, and Rose wanted to get ahead of that and make sure everything was square from an investigative standpoint. Submitting herself for a review, Child Protective Services found no reason to believe either Cody or Emma Martin were in any danger under her care.
She contacted him again in 2014 to get help parenting him, as she was having difficulties with his O.D.D. (oppositional defiant disorder). Initially it was limited to just a summer visit, and a test run to see if a change in Cody’s environment would alleviate the child’s unfavorable behaviors. It’s important to note there’s a distinction between a child’s behaviors being difficult to deal with, and being deemed incapable of handling a child altogether. This slightest of nuances is what led Mike Martin’s pursuit of custody in regards to Cody Martin.
At one point, Rose said one of her aims for having the kid live in Maryland was so he’d have access to better medical care and doctors. It was during this time, according to Crystal, that Heather Martin had forged paperwork to make it say Rose Hall had given up her majority custody rights to Cody altogether. That this trip was much more permanent. When they all met up together to get the paperwork signed, Rose had left it alone with Mike and Heather. What Rose was under the impression of was that Cody was going to live up in Maryland for a six month period. She was shocked to see her name attached to a permanent custody change document when Mike and Heather mailed Rose’s copy of the paperwork to her several months after the fact. She had told Cody goodbye when he departed for DaddyOFive’s house to celebrate Christmas, and expected to get him back in January. Instead, all she got was the custody paperwork copy. The legal fallout did not work out in their favor, causing Cody and Emma to live separately.
Going into further detail about Mike as a person, Rose was the target of stalking and harassment from associates of DaddyOFive. These men followed Hall home from work, going as far as attempting to run her off the road. Additionally, she claimed in the interview she had police statements where-in Rose reported Mike’s harassment towards her. Here’s one of the incident reports from May 2015. In July 2015, Rose got in contact with the police again when she had spotted Mike Martin in the North Carolina area. This information is backed by an incident report as well.
Below you will find a gallery of drawings that are allegedly from Mike Martin (you can see a sample of DaddyOFive’s handwriting here for comparison). They provide a necessary level of context to the concerns raised by Rose about his behaviors.
Heather Martin herself has a 2nd degree assault charge on her personal records. Given the serious of that, I reached out to Mike Martin for details. He did not reply by the time of publishing this piece. Heather’s name in the assault record is listed as “Zopp,” which was a name she had when married previously. Coincidentally, the divorce proceedings for that instance have been recently reopened.
Chambers of My Heart and someone by the name of @basedmama were witnesses to harassment of Rose Hall. In a Google Hangout in the early hours of April 21st, Rose was chatting with them when a loud banging on the house walls happened.
“We heard it all, the banging on the walls. It sounded like it was in my house, it was that loud,” said @based_mama.
I was working on this article at the time, and I rushed into their hangout to get details about it within the hour. Police were called and a record of this was made available to me for sharing.
According to Rose and Crystal, one of the reasons that the Martins had the means necessary to carry out acts of forgery was because the couple had a cache of Rose’s personal documents (medical paperwork, insurance, etc.) they had acquired in an exchange where they had come over to grab a bunch of the children’s toys to take with them for a visit. The notion that Heather and Mike had a cache of Rose’s personal documents is backed up by the fact that such items were used against her in court. One of these was a highly confidential medical document that Rose had Hypoxic brain damage at birth. It was unclear to her at the time it was used in court how Mike Martin could have possibly obtained it.
You can read Rose Hall’s 1995 psychological evaluation here. Given the fact that the documentation in question is severely dated and used by Mike as a means of describing Rose’s character in a negative light as an adult, here’s a work reference somebody wrote for Rose Hall in 2012.
Hall told Chambers in addition to the previously mentioned issue, she suffered from short-term memory loss and has bi-polar disorder. In contrast to how Mike dealt with mental problems, Rose told viewers that she was on proper medication and went to therapy on a regular basis. There’s a plethora of supplementary documentation showing Doctors verified Rose as being stable.
On September 25th and 26th, 2015 Rose has surgery and a hospital stay. A doctor’s note backs up Rose’s claim that she was not permitted to travel long distances. Therefore she would have difficulty in fulfilling Heather’s demand out of the custody agreement that she journey all the way to hers and Mike’s house in order to get the kids.
As stated by Rose in the interview: In November 2015 Mike and Heather took Emma down to North Carolina and coaxed her to tell the courts a story that alleges Rose Hall was abusive, claim her home didn’t have enough food, and that she punched holes in the hall. According to Rose, the reality of it was she keeps the house in immaculate condition due to her O.C.D. habit of cleaning, and Emma was provided with whatever she could have wanted.
Rose shares with everyone that Heather allegedly told her when they were alone in the courthouse ladies restroom that they have more money and they will never stop suing her for custody.
Both of the judges in the county Rose had the proceedings in ended up siding against her. At times during this process, Hall had represented herself because she couldn’t afford the lawyer fees. In the periods of time where she managed to get enough money together for that, Mike and Heather declared it a conflict of interest and made the Judge force Rose to get rid of her lawyer. The Martins had claimed to have spoken with these lawyers prior to the hearings, calling as many lawyers in the town as possible to tell them about what was happening. In doing so Rose was left incapable of hiring them herself because it was a conflict of interest to have already spoken with the other party involved.
In order to further validate the conflict of interest claim made by Rose in the interview, here’s a copy of the correspondence from Mike’s lawyer to Rose’s. Highlighted in red in that image is the specific paragraph that mentions the C.O.I. (I’m obligated to point out that Mike’s Lawyer sent an entire separate fax letter saying the citation of Paragraph 8(c) was an error, with the correct one being 8(d) in place of that)
December 1st 2015, Heather had Emma taken away (using Police force) from Rose’s household while the children were on Thanksgiving break. Mike and Heather took Rose to court over Emma afterwards, and the judge presiding over the case sided with DaddyOFive instead of Rose Hall. Crystal Reynolds explains that the evidence used in the Emma trial was falsified. She reminds us during this interview that Rose had taken care of Emma on her own during the child’s earliest years, without any support from Mike at all.
She notes that Cody and Emma lost weight in the period of time since they were “enlisted” into the Martin household. Rose says psychologists, psychiatrists, and other social service workers she showed DaddyOFive videos to had all come to the conclusion that what was going on was child abuse.
In August 2016, Crystal and Rose had discovered the DaddyOFive YouTube channel for the first time. Contacting the authorities for help, North Carolina acknowledged they were wrong about Rose in the first place. Meanwhile Maryland (where the Martins live) at that time declared it Corporal Punishment to physically, mentally, and emotionally abuse your kids.
Let’s go over the timeline of the dispute between Rose and Mike/Heather once more. But supplementing the timeline of events mentioned above is a collection of text messages between Rose and Mike/Heather Martin.
Cody went to his father’s initially for the hopes that it’d benefit his mental well-being. The biological mother was initially calling him every night and in constant contact. But then that contact got more sparse at Mike’s behest. Daily calls turned into weekly, weekly into monthly, then Cody was “too busy,” etc.
In July 2014, an irate Mike yelled at Rose about the arrangements for Cody they had made. Rose had changed her mind about going through with the whole thing, based on Cody’s concerns that Mike would keep him away from his mother. He accuses her of being unstable and threatens to take Rose to court if necessary. Mike expresses his frustrations that jumping through hoops didn’t seem good enough to Rose, and in response she’s adamant that Mike needs to communicate these things to her lawyer.
By December 2014 Rose tells Heather that Mike was attempting to block communication between Cody and herself. The initial arrangements made between both parties (nightly talks on Skype and monthly visitation rights) gave the sense that everyone was going to go about this maturely. But how that panned out was radically different, leaving Rose highly disappointed. Heather responds by claiming Cody was doing better than he ever was initially, and threatens to take Emma. She goes on to say that Mike had sole custody of Cody and the paperwork states he has the power to moderate these visitation privileges. Rose sounds completely unaware of that, and comes to the conclusion the paperwork was forged. Heather denies it and says they were signed in front of a Notary, twice-over. Rose becomes upset that Heather is attempting to take Cody away from her, and gets stonewall responses that dodge answering that claim directly. Heather reassures Rose that she is always open for texting and calling, essentially giving her the position of gatekeeper to talking to Cody as trying to Mike is made impossible. Both sides of the conversation try to hash things out and get on amicable terms for the sake of the kids.
By March 2015, it appears as if this arrangement between Rose and Heather was working out. Mrs. Martin even managed to send school and baseball pictures of the children during those times of the year. Heather complains to Rose that Rose’s mother had contacted her saying she wanted to talk to Cody. Heather responded to that by claiming Rose’s Mother never got in touch with Heather to do anything like that before, and insisted the only responsibility Heather had was to communicate with Rose. But at that point, both sides seemed satisfied at this teamwork. In April 2015 Mike wasn’t on any speaking terms with Rose. But she sent an olive branch to Heather to give to Mike on her behalf. Within that message to Mike, Rose said she spent the past few years in self-reflection and came to terms with the rocky past their relationship had. She makes it clear that she deeply misses Cody and keeps the children at the front of her thoughts, and expresses the desire for a mutually healthy relationship between the kids and parents. Mike in response to the earnest attempt at an olive branch verbally slams Rose. Via Heather he says that he forgave Rose “for himself,” but adds that he never forgot “the hell” Rose and her family put him through. Claiming to never have loved her, Mike says his only motivation for moving in with Rose was the sake of his unborn child. He accuses Rose of punching herself in the stomach, self-harming, and beating Mike. In his conclusion, he says he’s willing to be civil with Heather and do what’s best for the children. Rose calls Mike’s accusations a lie but doesn’t want to fight about it unnecessarily. Heather tells her that she’s willing to take Mike’s word at face value, and that he’s happy for the first time now he has a “real woman” in his life.
By May 2015 we see Heather had Cody make an unannounced call to Rose on Mother’s Day, which came as a surprise to her because of Mike’s recent behaviors. Rose presses Heather for a discussion on visitation rights, intending to see him in person twice a month as promised by the paperwork. Heather responds by asserting she never denied her rights to see him. An important conversation takes place on the 21st, as we come to find out that Heather is keenly aware of Cody’s medical conditions. It came about after Rose asked her why Cody had a phone watch when he came over for an extended stay. Conversely she was worried that Mike and Heather wouldn’t allow Emma to have a cell phone when she went over to their household for the same sort of deal. This is backed by Emma telling Rose that Mike wouldn’t allow contact with her mother while Emma was over at his place. Heather says the phone watch is a form of security blanket, recommend by a doctor to help him cope with his personal conditions. She goes on to blame Rose for Cody’s shortcomings, telling her the child didn’t want to come to North Carolina. Heather claims that Cody tells other kids that his biological mother is his “step mom,” and that he essentially switches the title between step-mother and mother backwards between Rose and Heather. Rose goes on to say Emma is worried that Mike and Heather plan to take her away from Rose. This came about after the child had overheard Mike shouting at her mother on the phone. Rose offers the duo the opportunity to come to a joint therapy session with her. This attempt at family unity is persistent later on.
In October 2015, Rose reached out Heather and invited both her and Mike to Emma’s birthday party she was throwing for her.
That innocent invitation is responded to with a wall of text that makes their discussion take a very sharp left turn. Heather shoots the proposition down by explaining they didn’t want to interrupt Emma’s special day. They still planned on being in the area and wishing to make arrangements, but Heather was hesitant on being near Rose’s parents because of the tenuous relationship between herself and them. She reassures Rose that they are not out to keep Cody away from her. Apparently the lad was happy living with Mike and Heather, and still open to seeing the “other family,” as Heather herself describes it.
She’s adamant that the both of them are following the custody order to the letter, saying the obligation was on Rose to make the arrangement. That was on the 8th. On the 13th, Rose explains to Heather the plans Emma had made with her friends and that it would create a conflict with her request to see her. The argument turns into a fight over the nuances of the court agreement. Heather insists they are following it to the letter, and that Rose needed to travel to Mike and Heather (thus not obligated to bring Cody to Rose). In response, Rose contends Mike disallowed her from doing as such at all.
For some reason this really ticked off Heather, as she goes on a tirade against Rose. Accusing her of lying to the court about her medical ailments, twisting that against Rose as some sort of “drama” that works against her when it comes to legal rights to see Cody and Emma.
If it sounds unbelieveable you can look at both of these things for yourself. Heather Martin using Rose’s medical issues as ammunition in an argument about the kids (1), and the notes for the medical procedures Hall had undergone back in September 2015 (2).
“Your not even a fraction of woman and mother I am and this has nothing to do with us it has to do with my husband’s children,” Heather texted to Rose.
At the end of October 2015, Rose stops responding to Heather’s texts. Sending her questions about Mike’s visitation plans with Emma, Rose tells Heather to not text her. Repeatedly. Hall replies she’s highly considering getting a restraining order and suing for harassment. Escalating the tensions, Heather openly invites Rose to do so. She threatens that Mike would go after Rose and Rose’s mother for slander, intimidating her with screenshots of conversations she’s had on social media.
A final exchange of messages happens as a result of the lawyer correspondence letter that was mentioned earlier on in this piece (see the “conflict of interest” section), and Rose makes one last effort at appeasement by arranging a time to drop Emma off into Heather’s and Mike’s hands.
See with your own eyes how that panned out. On the last page of text messages in this collection, Heather is pulling all the strings when it comes to custody arrangements. She orders Rose to meet her at a location of Heather’s choosing, and failure to follow those instructions meant Rose would be forced to face accusations of being in contempt of court.
From July 2014 through the end of December 2015, we see Heather’s treatment of Rose drastically shift into a more commanding and demanding tone of discussion. The current circumstances of the Martin children are a worrisome contrast compared to what Mike and Heather had told the court system throughout the entire process.
If you’re interested in supporting Rose’s battle for custody, you can donate to a GoFundMe campaign set-up to provide legal fees.