NEWPORT, Del. — A Delaware woman who killed her toddler and herself rather than surrender custody left a note to judges, lawyers and her family accusing the system of failing to protect them from domestic abuse.

The News Journal of Wilmington delved into this month's deaths of Laura Connell and her 1-year-old boy, Walton. It reports about 450 children are killed by their parents each year, and that questions of custody were involved in nearly every case in which a mother acted alone.

Walton's father was never charged with abuse. A judge in Tarrant County, Texas, approved her protective order, saying he was likely to repeat "family violence," but another judge vacated the order without citing evidence, saying Connell wasn't credible, and ordering her to give up the boy.

Walton's father wouldn't comment.