Why Parents Kill Their Children

Discussion in 'JonBenet Ramsey' started by cynic, Nov 18, 2009.

  1. cynic

    cynic Active Member

    Messages:
    1,652
    Likes Received:
    19
    Trophy Points:
    38
    "New stories about parents who kill their children continue to mesmerize shock and terrify the community each time they are reported. Although filicide (child murder) is uncommon, it’s a leading cause of child death in developed countries. Compared to other developed nations, the United States has the highest rate of child homicide. When a child is murdered, the perpetrators are most likely one of the child’s parents."

    "In the United States, women commit two crimes as frequently as men. The first is shoplifting. The second is the murder of their children. Women, who commit 13% of all violent crimes, kill their children at the same rate as men. Annually, more than 200 women will take the life of their child or children."

    "The Mentally Ill & Altruistic Filicide
    Altruistic filicide is the murder of a child committed out of love. It is seen as a rational act by the parent, primarily the mother. Altruistic mothers are invested in being good mothers, but, because of delusional perception, believe that by killing their children, they’re saving them from some awful fate or suffering. These mothers are frequently suicidal, are afraid of what will happen to the child or children after their intended suicide. The fact that they kill out of love is the most important feature that distinguishes this type of filicide from all other homicides.
    Twenty-one percent of all filicides are committed by parents during a period of severe mental illness or during a psychotic episode. These mothers are older (late 20s, early 30s) frequently married, and have less psychosocial stressors than mothers who kill in the context of fatal child abuse. They also kill older children. They frequently have had a significant history of mental illness: bipolar disorder, depressive disorders, schizophrenia, melancholia, manic depressive disorders and personality disorders. "

    "Parents frequently do not plan on killing the child, and there is a sense of intense passion during the act. Children were more likely to be drowned, shaken, beaten, poisoned, stabbed or suffocated. Women usually kill children in a method that involves close and active physical contact with the child, such as shaking, manual battering, suffocation or drowning."

    "Filicide & the Legal Process
    Juries are generally more lenient with female filicide offenders than males. The jury may have a hard time placing an accused mother in the common perception of a murderer. Or they may feel that the guilt and shame she has experienced has been punishment enough."
    (Grand jury ???)

    http://www.lawofficer.com/news-and-articles/columns/Kulbarsh/filicide.html
     
  2. Loading...


  3. SuperDave

    SuperDave Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    13,263
    Likes Received:
    37
    Trophy Points:
    48
    I was just in a conversation about that.

    I admit, even I resemble that remark at times.
     
  4. Sophie

    Sophie New Member

    Messages:
    1,019
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0

    This is an absolutely fascinating article, Cynic. A couple of the scenarios mentioned seem to fit Patsy like a glove. The bit about mothers fearing for their children's futures seems especially apt given Patsy's admitted eagerness to pack every day as though it were her last and her comments in DoI about the pageants being calculated to give JBR some mother-daughter memories.

    Regarding juries etc feeling sympathy for the mothers etc, I have to agree with Dave. I can imagine many mothers being distraught after harming their child and suffering almost as much through that and society's opprobrium as they would through any judicial punishment. This isn't to say we shouldn't punish them but I do know what Dave means.

    DeeDee comments on another thread about mollycoddling criminals and I must say that I don't necessarily agree with the defence we have in English law that a woman who has recently (within a year, I think, but can't really remember) given birth is viewed as not quite compos mentis and if she kills her child, she serves a much-reduced sentence (again, I forget exactly what but, if memory serves, it's minimal).

    The article also indicates why it is folly to look too closely for a motive in family killings.
     
  5. cynic

    cynic Active Member

    Messages:
    1,652
    Likes Received:
    19
    Trophy Points:
    38
    A single mother who falsely claimed raiders tied her up and started a fire in which her four-month-old son died walked free from court today.
    Danielle Wails, 22, received three years probation, after admitting killing her son.
    She told police she was tied up by intruders who set her flat ablaze last year.
    Following the fire on August 28th, police launched a manhunt for the two men who she falsely claimed had attacked her in the two-bedroomed terrace house and then tied her up with telephone cord.
    She told detectives she had been knocked unconscious and when she awoke, the lounge, where her son was, was alight.
    She said she had used her tongue to dial 999 and shouted through the letterbox to neighbours, begging them to try and save Alexander.
    Wails, who had split from the baby's father Robert Gallon after a series of rows, was living in accommodation provided by a charity which helps single mothers.
    But her story, which included claims that she called 999 using her tongue, unravelled and she was charged with little Alexander Gallon's murder.
    On the first day of the trial at Newcastle Crown Court in August, Wails' guilty plea to the lesser charge of infanticide was accepted by the prosecution after two psychiatrists both agreed she was suffering from postnatal depression and that the balance of her mind was disturbed at the time of the tragedy.
    Today, the court heard that Wails had started the blaze of the rented home in Link Road, in the Cowgate area of Newcastle upon Tyne, to try and win back Mr Gallon after splitting.
    Prosecutor Paul Sloan QC told the court: "Danielle Wails made an emergency 999 call asking for the fire service and the police.
    "During the course of that telephone call she reported a fire at 5, Link Road and she claimed that she had been attacked and tied up.
    "She said her baby son was on the other side of the other living room and she had not reached him because of the fire and the smoke.
    "The tape recording of the call makes particular harrowing listening with baby Alexander's shrieks all too audible."
    Neighbours heard Wails shouting through the letterbox: "My house is on fire. My baby, my baby," Mr Sloan said.
    He added: "Danielle Wails stumbled outside and lay down on the ground. She had some telephone wire around her right wrist only.
    "She reported to neighbours that she had been attacked and knocked out and when she awoke the house was on fire.
    "She said she had made the 999 call using her tongue."
    Fire crews rescued baby Alexander from the burning house and he was taken to Newcastle General Hospital, but pronounced dead shortly afterwards.
    He had suffered horrific burns, while he mother had suffered only minor bruises and grazes.
    Consultant psychiatrist Adrian East told the court he was satisfied Wails was suffering from postnatal depression and had been diagnosed with the symptoms in the months before the killing.
    The court heard that Wails had claimed she was not being supported by health and social services staff before the tragedy, but records showed she had missed some appointments and that efforts to contact her had proved futile.
    After Alexander's death, it emerged Wails had been bombarding Mr Gallon and his family with phone calls and text messages in a futile bid to reconcile their relationship.
    Wails told people that Alexander was ill and needed hospital treatment - claims that were proven to be lies.
    In the months before her son's death, she also told friends she had been attacked in Newcastle city centre and had lost twins and triplets.
    Mr Sloan told the court: "There were many other false claims. It would seem that the underlying purpose behind these false claims was to win back her partner's sympathies and support.
    "She was also bombarding people with calls to find out where Robert Gallon was. She clearly wanted him to return to her."
    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-412103/Mother-killed-baby-blaze-walks-free-court.html
     
  6. Sophie

    Sophie New Member

    Messages:
    1,019
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Good grief: that's my local court and I read the local paper every evening and that had completely passed me by!


    Couldn't make it up, could you?

    ETA: Mind you, a scenario involving a single mother from that part of Newcastle is exactly the sort of scenario that one imagines when thinking about mothers who kill. Talk about living up to a stereotype.

    ETA 2: Although actually this is pretty much the Debora Green scenario so posher people do commit this sort of crime.
     
  7. cynic

    cynic Active Member

    Messages:
    1,652
    Likes Received:
    19
    Trophy Points:
    38
    Lol - Bizarre
     
  8. Sophie

    Sophie New Member

    Messages:
    1,019
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Three years' probation for killing her child..... I keep saying this: Britain is a bloated Boulder in terms of criminal justice and it's the poster child for why this approach doesn't work.
     
  9. DeeDee249

    DeeDee249 New Member

    Messages:
    8,022
    Likes Received:
    24
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Think her lawyers would claim Patsy had postpartum depression for 6 years?
     
  10. SuperDave

    SuperDave Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    13,263
    Likes Received:
    37
    Trophy Points:
    48
    More likely that her treatments had severely affected her mind. I'd believe it. I've seen it firsthand twice.
     
  11. believe09

    believe09 Active Member

    Messages:
    28,114
    Likes Received:
    30
    Trophy Points:
    38
    Meth. This is why parents kill their children. jmo.
     
  12. Sophie

    Sophie New Member

    Messages:
    1,019
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    I am sure that Patsy's treatment is the key to this case. Of course, this can never be proved but I envisage a woman still feeling the effects of her treatment, possibly depressed about her premature menopause, less-than happy and secure with John and under endless pressure from her own standards and need to impress. The kids were starting to be less compliant than they were. It was Christmas and there were a million things to do and while she was packing cases and wrapping yet more gifts and colouring her hair and getting the kids ready, John just went out to the airport and didn't lift a finger to help at home. She was already at the very edge, had a rare glass of wine at the party and something - possibly small - tipped her over the edge at home.
     
  13. SuperDave

    SuperDave Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    13,263
    Likes Received:
    37
    Trophy Points:
    48
    Very well said. A perfect storm.
     
  14. redeemed

    redeemed New Member

    Messages:
    122
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    I have a feeling that the truth will be out..one day...maybe not during my lifetime ( i'm not even 30 yet!!!) but maybe the next generations will know...maybe when Burke confesses on his death bed...or his future wife finds out something...or one of the Ramseys' lawyers lets the cat out of the bag... (talk about wishful thinking)....
    and my gut feeling after following this case is that PDI...
     
  15. DeeDee249

    DeeDee249 New Member

    Messages:
    8,022
    Likes Received:
    24
    Trophy Points:
    0
    I completely agree. Perfectly put.
     
  16. Sophie

    Sophie New Member

    Messages:
    1,019
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    I wonder how often parents actually get away with killing their children either because of misdiagnosed SIDS or police taking 'accidents' at face value or whatever.

    We are always horrified by the statistics about the number of children killed by parents but it's even more galling to think that even more children probably die at their parents' hands without anyone ever realising a crime has been committed.
     
  17. cynic

    cynic Active Member

    Messages:
    1,652
    Likes Received:
    19
    Trophy Points:
    38
    “The misdiagnosis of infanticide as SIDS ''happens all over,'' Ms. Talan, a medical reporter at Newsday, said. ''A lot of doctors and police don't know how to handle it. They don't take it as seriously as they should.''

    As a result of the book's revelations, people are starting to scrutinize possible cases of this ''perfect crime,'' which involves no physical evidence and no witnesses.”

    Dr. Steinschneider's 1972 medical paper convinced the pediatric establishment that SIDS was related to apnea, a temporary cessation of breathing. His claims led to a thriving industry in apnea monitors, an expensive apparatus that sounds an alarm when a baby hooked up to its wires breathes irregularly. ''The impact of that paper is still immense today,'' Mr. Firstman said.

    Indeed, 40,000 babies are now on home apnea monitors, ''for no real medical reason,'' said Mr. Firstman. In an editorial in the October issue of Pediatrics, Dr. Lucey wrote, ''This month marks the 25th anniversary of the now infamous article by Dr. Steinschneider. We never should have published this article. When an unsupported hypothesis attracts support from parents, government and becomes 'a religion,' it's impossible to stop. In fact, monitoring is still going on and some physicians still believe SIDS runs in families. It doesn't -- murder does.''

    The Steinschneider paper detailing the five Hoyt children's deaths led to the erroneous belief that SIDS is hereditary. Only recently has the maxim become accepted in forensic pathology: ''One unexplained infant death in a family is SIDS. Two is very suspicious. Three is homicide.''

    ''Murder may be one of the most preventable forms of sudden infant death,'' the book suggests. With 3,200 cases of SIDS reported annually in the United States and 5 to 10 percent considered suspicious, especially in cases with multiple deaths in one family, there may be 160 to 320 overlooked infanticides in this country each year.

    Emphasizing that most SIDS cases are unavoidable tragedies, Ms. Talan said, ''We don't want the witch hunt days to come back,'' where grieving parents were considered suspects. ''Our hope is to separate out infanticide from the SIDS statistics,'' she said.

    ''This is the most hidden form of child abuse,'' said Mr. Firstman, ''because it's so difficult to detect. Especially when the babies are so small, smothering leaves no marks.''

    Staff at the SIDS clinic at the illustrious Massachusetts General Hospital draw some of the book's sharpest criticism. ''Dr. Steinschneider and the Boston doctors between them, without meaning to, caused tremendous harm in terms of the ideas they put out,'' Mr. Firstman said. ''They have been accepted to this day. The simple fact that they were from Harvard had enormous influence.''

    According to the book, a review of records of babies hospitalized for apnea at Massachusetts General reveals physicians' ''failure to intervene in what appears to have been the abuse, and in some instances the murder, of babies who had been placed in their care over a 25-year period.''

    The authors cite research by Dr. Thomas Truman, including ''abundant evidence that the Harvard Mass General apnea program had a long and sad history of ignoring suggestions of child abuse, some of it fatal.'' In some cases, the book alleges, the infant deaths were preventable, if the implications of child abuse had been reported to authorities. Instead, the doctor who was head of the apnea program ''actively suppressed investigations, thereby facilitating the continuing abuse and, ultimately, the horrible outcomes,'' the book states.

    The authors term the prestigious Harvard program a ''lure'' to child abusers, who found in doctors ''the allies they needed.'' Although in at least one case a state police investigator told the authors he believed a mother ''is definitely guilty of the homicide of her daughter,'' the case is not going to trial because of lack of evidence.

    Ms. Talan mentioned a case where, in reading the medical literature, she became convinced multiple homicides had occurred in one family. ''I called the District Attorney's office, and no one was listening,'' she said. The Chief of Homicide yelled at her, ''Why are you calling me after all these years?''
    http://www.nytimes.com/1997/10/19/n...deaths-exposing-infanticide.html?pagewanted=1
     
  18. BlOnDe_GuRrL

    BlOnDe_GuRrL New Member

    Messages:
    952
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    interesting.. i often wondered what would possess a woman to kill their own child (or any child)

    as for post partum depression... i've had 4 babies... i got hit with PPD bad after i had the last one at the end of may this year... i experienced just about every symptom of PPD that there is... and even when i sometimes felt that i didnt bond with the baby, or that she wasn't really mine, i still felt the need or instinct to make sure she was comfortable and protected. and i couldn't imagine doing an ounce of harm to her... i feel guilty if she has to sit in a dirty diaper longer thana minute when we're driving somewhere.
    idk if i'm buying the whole PPD defense... i've battled with depression and anxiety and PPD since i was 12 years old and i never in a million years could imagine doing harm to any of my children
     
  19. cynic

    cynic Active Member

    Messages:
    1,652
    Likes Received:
    19
    Trophy Points:
    38
    I’ve often wondered how many filicide cases have some small final element of parental “love” found at the crime scene such as a favorite doll nearby, wrapping the body in a blanket (you don’t want them to be cold), etc.
    I did come across this as one example:
    Clarke sobbed as she spoke of returning to her home to find the cold bodies of Max, aged eight, and Cordon, five, curled up on a couch, and then Kaitlynn, 10, in her bedroom wrapped in her favorite blanket, dead from stab wounds. (She was killed by her father.)
    http://www.cbc.ca/canada/british-co...schoenborn-trial-darcie-clarke-testifies.html
     
  20. DeeDee249

    DeeDee249 New Member

    Messages:
    8,022
    Likes Received:
    24
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Parents (including mothers) can and do kill their children; sometimes PPD is the cause. Some PPD is to be expected, after all- the hormone crash after delivering a baby is quite sudden. But the degree to which it affects new mothers varies greatly. No mother (and I am one as well) can ever presume to know how another woman is affected by this. And I'd venture that men are not able to understand it at all.
    I do not believe it played a part in this case, but I do believe in extreme cases it can lead a mother to kill her baby. But hormone levels adjust over time, and there should be someone in a woman's life to be able to tell if she has developed a true psychosis.
    PPD is different from other causes of anxiety or depression; while violence is rare, it can happen in a very small number of severe cases. With severe PPD, the mother can feel overwhelmed by the care of the child, see herself as worthless to her child, or the child is viewed as the trigger (actually, the sudden termination of a pregnancy is the trigger, not the child itself, and PPD occurs even with abortion, miscarriage or stillbirth as well as live birth.
    I have seen two people close to me suffer severe PPD (none with violence, thank God). In one case, hospitalization and electric shock therapy were needed. This was about 35 years ago, and I believe her PPD was aggravated by getting pregnant within 10 months of delivering the previous child. I don't know if EST is used today for this. She was not violent, but she tried to give her kids away. (one of them, to me). I alerted her husband, who saw that she got to a doctor right away. Her three kids went to different relatives, and she was hospitalized for several months. She was released completely well, and had no further problems. The shock therapy was a great help.

    The other person was again someone who got pregnant with a second when the first was only 3 MONTHS old. She also lost her own mother at the time. Big-time stresses involved. She was briefly hospitalized, but this was about 22 years ago, and by that time different medications were available that helped.
    Now, I am a grandma and my daughter and her friends don't seem to have such a big problem with PPD. Many of their doctors today recognize that it is hormone imbalance that causes it, so most of these girls go on a light dose of birth control pills right away (if they are not nursing) and it seems to nip PPD in the bud.
     
  21. Sophie

    Sophie New Member

    Messages:
    1,019
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    DeeDee, I agree with all of that. I really didn't suffer from PPD after having my girls but one of my sisters had a throughly miserable time that was only alleviated by birth control pills and an anti-depressant. I know of someone whose BPD was 'activated' by giving birth and she ended up being hospitalised for a year. The dr told her that he had seen first schizophrenic episodes activated by child-birth, too. As you say, it's so variable from woman to woman.
     

Share This Page

  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.
    Dismiss Notice