From the Editor’s Keyboard

Delving into the minds of children who kill their parents

22 August 2019 at 19:13 | 1446 views

By Dr. Nanah Sheriff Fofanah-Sesay, USA

According to Guy (2018), parricide is an act which causes horror when the lives of parents are taken, often brutally, by their own offspring.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation suggest there are around 200 to 300 murders where the person responsible was not only known to their victim but was their own child (Guy, 2018).

The purpose of this article is to delve deeper into the minds of children who kill their own parents with the hope of finding solutions that will mitigate these incidents. Let me start by looking at some famous published narratives from children who killed their parents around the world.

In 2001, Alex and Dereck King ages 12 and 13 were troubled youths from a broken family who had bounced from place to place until they finally both winded up living with their father. The two boys engaged in a homosexual relationship with other men that was not favored by their father. As a result of this, the two Florida boys killed their father and set his house on fire.

18 years old Lowell Lee Andrew killed his parents and sister while visiting from college during a Thanksgiving holiday in 1958. The incident took place in Kansas. Lowell later admitted that he “felt nothing while killing his parents.”

David Brom, a 16 year-old from Minnesota got up from his bed, obtained an axe and goes to his parent’s room killing his father with a 28 inch axe. He then proceeded to kill his mother, Paulette, his 13 year-old sister, Diane, and 11 year-old brother, Ricky, all with the same axe. This unfortunate incident took place in February 1988. The motive for the killing stemmed from an argument over a “Punk-Rock Cassette” with his father.

In Canada, 12 year-old Jasmine Richardson fell in love with a 23 year- old man who allegedly claimed to be a 300-year-old were-wolf that loved the taste of blood. He later convinced Jasmine to kill her parents and younger brother by stabbing and slashing. This incident took place in the evening of April 6, 2006.

In 2013, Brad Lee Davis, aged 34, of McCloud, Oklahoma got into a fight with his step-father, named Denver St. Clair after St. Clair allegedly made a derogatory comment about Davis’ mother. Davis knocked St. Clair unconscious, gave him an “atomic wedgie” and took photos of his handiwork. The underwear’s waistband would prove fatal for St. Claire, as it chocked him to death.

In August 1989, Joseph Lyle Menendez aged 21 year and his younger brother Eric Menendez aged 19 killed their wealthy parents in their Beverly Hills mansion. The motive for the killing was to acquire their parents’ wealth.

In July 2001, Sef Gonzales aged 21, killed his parents and sister in Australia using two butcher knives. The motive for the killing was he found himself a failure at age 21 and decided to kill his family to gain control of their fortune.

18 year-old Stacey Lannert shot her father with a rifle while he was asleep, hitting his collarbone with a subsequent fatal bullet to his head. Stacey later testified that her father had sexually molested her since she was 8 years old and can no longer take the abuse when her father began abusing her younger sister. This incident took place in Missouri on July 4, 1990.

In June 2015, 25 years-old Roberto Martinez-Marinero of Omaha, Nebraska beat his mother with a baseball bat and repeatedly stabbed her before dumping her still living body in a ditch. She later died from her wounds. During the same incident, Marinero also threw his four-year old brother off a bridge above the Elkhom River and tossed his 11-month old half-brother into a dumpster. All three family members died from their injuries. This incident stemmed from an argument with his mother regarding Marinero putting his girlfriend and kids above most of his family.

In May 2015, Tyler Blansit, aged 22, of Alabama was a struggling college biology student who argued with his mother over failing grades at the University of Alabama. The argument escalated to him killing his mother with a single blow to the head.

In 2011, Indiana native Nina Holbrook, 34, poured gasoline on her 50-year-old father, lit him on fire with a candle and left him to die. There was no motive for this killing. Nina’s legal team attempted to use mental illness as her defense but failed.

In August 19, 2005, Esmie Tseng, 16 years old, of Overland Park, Kansas, grabbed a knife and stabbed her mother to death. She later alleged in court that her success driven Chinese parents were so overbearing and that she felt suffocated. Esmie further gave instances where she alleged that her mother would ground her for scoring 96 percent on an exam, threatened to move her to another school district to punish her because of attaining three Bs on a report card, and threatened to sell her piano if her grades did not improve.

In May 20, 1998, Kipland Kinkel aged 15, used a .22 caliber rifle his father had bought him to kill both his parents. Before shooting his mother, he allegedly told her “I love you, mom.” The next morning, he drove his parents’ car to his school and fired 51 rounds in the school cafeteria, killing one and injuring 23 others.

In March 1, 2013, Henry Chau, 30 years old, of Hong Kong killed his parents for allegedly putting utmost pressure on him. The most gruesome aspect about this killing is the fact that he further instructed his friend, Angus Tse, to chop up his parents corpses, salt them, and bake them in hope it will all look like “barbecued pork” rather than human bodies.

Early this year, a Maryland mother from Nigeria signed for her adolescent mentally ill son from a psychiatric hospital against medical advice. She was later killed by the same son within 24 hours of discharge from the hospital.

In July 2019, a 17 year-old Maryland boy stabbed his father while driving and dragged his body in the woods. Officers say they saw the teen walking out of the wooded area and he was then taken to the hospital where he was treated for minor injuries. The teen allegedly told court authorities that his father was controlling him.

In a paper published in Current Psychiatry by Dr. Sara West and Dr. Mendel Feldsher, which provides a breakdown of the most common characteristics found in offenders, please review the following variables.

Characteristics of sons who killed their fathers
1. Schizophrenia is common in sons and they are most often single.
2. Fathers are often domineering and aggressive.
3. The father is often the only victim.
4. The relationship with the son is often cruel and abusive.
5. The crime often involves excessive force and following the crime, the offender experiences relief, rather than remorse

Characteristics of sons who killed their mothers
6. They are often immature, and dependent.
7. Schizophrenia is common.
8. They are often single and living with their mother while the father is absent.
9. Mothers are often domineering, demanding, and possessive.
10. Mothers are likely to be the only victim.
11. Excessive force is often used in the crime.
12. The motive is usually delusional beliefs, altruism, threat of separation, or arguments.
13. The crime is often committed at home.

Characteristics of daughters who killed their fathers.
14. Daughters are less likely to be psychotic.
15. Fathers are often tyrannical and abusive.
16. Father’s relationship with their daughter is likely violent.

Characteristics of daughters who killed their mother
17. Daughters are often middle-aged, single and living with mother.
18. Psychosis is common.
19. Mothers are often the only victims.
20. Mother’s relationship with their daughter is likely hostile and dependent.
21. The crime often involves excessive force.

In spite of all these variables, most parents will decisively argue that children who killed their parents are simply bad kids. As humans, we must be objective in our insight, judgements, and decision makings. On that note, I urge all readers to be open-minded, respectful of others differences, and most importantly, be accommodating within the realm of family dynamics.

This article is dedicated to all those affected by the loss of a family member through the hands of their sons and daughters. May the souls of the deceased rest in peace.