MOTHERS Accused Of Killing Their Own Children
News about a mother killing her own child is always shocking and difficult to understand. I personally have had a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach ever since Casey Anthony was acquitted last week, July 5, 2011, of killing her two-year old daughter Caylee Marie. Actually, that sick feeling began three years ago as I have watched this case unfold. As an outsider over 1,000 miles away from Orlando, Florida, I was admittedly preoccupied with this case. And without a doubt, I saw and heard more evidence than the jury ever did.
My intent is not to create a frenzy by giving my opinions here. And I do not want to give Casey Anthony any more attention that she so craves. In researching mothers accused of killing their own children, I’ve become amazed at the stories that I have never heard and the ones that I have not thought about for a long time. This is Sharyn's Slant . . .
************************* GRAPHIC VERBIAGE WARNING *************************
PLEASE NOTE THAT WRITTEN DETAILS IN THIS ARTICLE ARE GRAPHIC AT TIMES AND MAY BE DISTURBING. ALTHOUGH THERE ARE NO GRAPHIC PHOTOS, THIS PIECE SHOULD NOT BE READ BY CHILDREN!
WHAT IS MATERNAL FILICIDE?
MATERNAL FILICIDE IS THE DELIBERATE ACT OF A MOTHER KILLING HER OWN SON OR DAUGHTER. THE WORD FILICIDE IS DERIVED FROM THE LATIN WORDS FILIA MEANING DAUGHTER AND FILIUS MEANING SON. THE SUFFIX -CIDE MEANS TO KILL, MURDER OR CAUSE DEATH. CHILDREN MURDERED BY THEIR MOTHER OCCURS MORE FREQUENTLY IN THE U.S. THAN ANY OTHER DEVELOPED NATION.
Alexandra V. Tobias
This young mother from Jacksonville, Florida was charged with the 2010 second-degree murder of her three-month old son Dylan Lee Edmondson. Apparently frustrated when her crying son disturbed her online Facebook game of Farmville, she pled guilty to shaking him to death. Tobias was sentenced to the maximum penalty of 50 years in prison but is eligible for parole in 10 years.
Susan Vaughan Smith
In 1994, this Union, S.C., mother led law enforcement on a nine-day fictitious manhunt for suspects that did not exist in the disappearance of her two young sons. What really happened instead was that she drove onto a ramp at a nearby lake with her boys sleeping in the back seat. The car remained in drive as she got out and released the brake. She watched as the car plunged into the lake and slowly sank along with Michael (3) and Alexander (14 months). Susan Smith was found guilty of two counts of murder and sentenced to life in prison. South Carolina law allows for parole eligibility in 30 years (2025).
Darlie Lynn Routier
You may recall the news scandal when Darlie Routier and other family members held a “birthday party” at her children’s gravesites to celebrate what would have been Devon’s 7th birthday. Routier was videotaped spraying silly string and laughing on her sons graves. This occurred just eight days after the murder of two of her three children in the family home in 1996. Two sons, Damon (5) and Devon, were stabbed to death.
Initially, she claimed that an intruder murdered her two children. But nothing added up. Although accused of killing both children, this Texas mom was prosecuted and convicted for Damon’s death only. She is currently on death row. Her family maintains a website proclaiming her innocence http://www.fordarlieroutier.org/.
Cases where mothers are accused of killing their children typically occur with younger infants and toddlers. Murdering teenage children is extremely rare.
Because they were “mouthy”, Julie Schenecker confessed to using a .38-caliber pistol to kill her two teenage children in January 2011. Son Beau (13) was found dead in a vehicle in their garage. Daughter Calyx (16) was found dead in an upstairs bedroom of their Tampa, Florida home. Both children were found with blankets covering them. Schenecker is being held without bond facing two counts of premeditated first-degree murder.
Nearly a year after the February 2010 death of Marissa Pagli (18), her mother confessed to first-degree manslaughter for strangling her daughter stating that she “pushed my last button.” Marissa was found dead at her family’s on-campus apartment where she was a freshman at Manhattanville College in New York. Her father was a maintenance supervisor at the college when he found her body. Stacey Pagli took a plea deal and will spend the next 20 years in prison.
Sacramento California police were initially told in March 2011 that Ka Yang was holding her daughter Mirabel (6 weeks old) at the computer when she herself blacked out. When she awoke, her daughter wasn’t breathing. Investigators were suspicious when they found a pacifier in the microwave. Plus there were burns to the child’s face although her hair or clothes did not appear to be scorched. Following a three-month investigation, it has been concluded that the newborn died as a result of being burned in a microwave oven. Yang is being held without bail facing multiple murder charges.
Robin Lee Row
This is the only woman on Idaho’s death row convicted of killing her husband and two children from a previous marriage. Randy (34), Joshua (10) and Tabitha (8) perished in a house fire in February 1992. The cause of the fire was determined to be arson and ruled a homicide. Years earlier, Row had two other children that died. A son named Keith was killed in a 1980 California house fire that was ruled accidental. Another of Row’s babies was said to have died of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome).
While Marie Moore and her son Mitchell (20) were at a shooting range in Casselberry, Florida, she shot her son in the back of the head execution-style and then turned her gun on herself. The spring 2009 murder/suicide was caught on video surveillance. This Florida mother left several notes and audio recordings explaining her motive for this hideous act. They can be found by doing an internet search but are definitely too graphic to include here.
This New York mom drove her minivan, loaded with her four children, into the Hudson River mid-April 2011. Her 10-year old son survived by climbing out a window and swimming to shore. Found dead at the scene were Lashandra Armstrong and three of her children: a five-year old boy, two-year old boy, and 11-month old girl. Just prior to the incident, this mother posted a message on her Facebook page asking for forgiveness “for what I’m gonna do.”
Monica Christine McCarrick
Facing the death penalty if convicted, this California mother is accused of stabbing to death her 3-year old twin daughters Lily and Tori. Accusations include using a samurai sword to murder her girls and set their apartment on fire in October 2010. She then attempted suicide but did not succeed. McCarrick has a history of domestic violence and drug abuse. She has pled not guilty to charges of child abuse, arson, evidence destruction and murder.
This mother stole the maternal filicide spotlight in June 2001 when she methodically drowned her five young children in the bathtub of their Texas home. Andrea Yates was convicted in 2002 of capital murder sentencing her to life in prison.
Her sentence was overturned in an appeal in which a new jury found Yates not guilty by reason of insanity in 2006. She initially was committed by the court to a high-security state mental institution and was moved to a minimum-security facility in 2007 where she remains. She is scheduled for a “recommitment hearing” in November 2011. Yates long-time lawyer, George Parnham, believes her doctors will release her recommending therapy at an outpatient facility.
In November 2004, this Texas mother amputated her baby’s arms with a knife causing 11-month old Margaret to bleed to death. Schlosser called 911 admitting that she was “offering her child to God.” Her two older daughters were at school. She was found not guilty by reason of insanity and interestingly, sentenced to a state mental hospital where she shared a room with Andrea Yates. The state released Schlosser from their care in 2008. In April 2010, she was ordered back to the state hospital after violating terms of her release.
Casey Marie Anthony
Most people, especially in the United States (and beyond), have likely heard by now the not-guilty verdict last week in Casey Anthony’s murder trial of her two-year old daughter Caylee. Obviously, she is not the first mother to be accused of killing her child. Yet her continued web of lies and lengthy trial captivated the nation for the past three years.
The not-guilty judgment has prompted relentless anger and outrage. USA TODAY/Gallup conducted a recent poll that determined approximately 64% of Americans think that Anthony killed her daughter.
The stories described above are by no means an exhausted list of mothers who are accused of killing their children in the United States. It is, however, an illustration of one of the most unthinkable acts that the majority of human minds cannot fathom. Here is a condensed list of additional mothers accused of killing their children (in no specific order).
- Mary Beth Tinning, New York, is accused of killing nine of her own children between 1972 and 1985. She was arrested in 1986.
- China P. Arnold, Ohio, is accused of killing her baby in the microwave in August 2005.
- Otty Sanchez, Texas (2009), is accused of killing her newborn son in such a gruesome way, I will not elaborate here.
- Susan Eubanks, California, is accused of murdering her four sons during a drunken rage in 1999.
- Kenisha Berry, Texas, is accused of the 1998 murder of her newborn son by gagging him with duct tape and placing him in a garbage bin.
- Michelle Sue Tharp, Pennsylvania, is accused of starving her seven-year old daughter to death in 1998.
- Socorro (Cara) Caro, California, is accused of killing three of her four boys in 1999, ages five, eight and eleven, by shooting them in the head at point-blank range while they slept. The 13-month old son was unharmed. She shot herself in the head but survived.
- Theresa Michelle Lewis, Virginia, was executed by lethal injection in 2010 for the murder-for-hire slayings of her husband and stepson in 2002.
- Frances Elaine Newton, Texas, was executed by lethal injection in 2005 for shooting to death her husband and two children, a son (7) and daughter (21 months), for insurance money in 1987.
- Marie Noe, Pennsylvania, is accused of the death of 10 of her children between 1949 and 1968. Not until 1999, Noe pled guilty to eight counts of second-degree murder. Now that she is in her 80's (born 1928), she was sentenced to 20 years probation that includes intense psychiatric studies.
- And no doubt, there are numerous additional, disturbing accounts like these -- that are not present in this writing.
POSSIBLE REASONS WHY MOTHERS KILL THEIR CHILDREN
- Mental illness
- Think they are looking after the children’s best interest
- Psychotic and irrational motivations
- Drug dependency
- Feelings that the children are a burden
- Feelings of incompetency in caring for their children
- Feelings of spite against the children’s father
- Feelings of powerlessness
- Feeling their children are an inconvenience
- Family pressures
- Financial pressures
- Do not believe that giving them up for adoption is an option
- Feelings of detachment and alienation from the family
BREAKING THE MOTHER-CHILD BOND
These stories above seem to go against everything most humans intuitively believe about the bond between a mother and child. Don’t you think it’s true that as a society, we are reluctant to believe that a mother is capable of killing her child? And wouldn’t it be true to say that this hinders our ability to identify the warnings signs to prevent more tragedies?
This phenomenon is one that is extremely difficult to understand. For most people, it is unthinkable. The fear of losing a child is usually a life-long trepidation for most parents. Therefore, when a child is murdered by a parent, the accused receives little if any forgiveness and sympathy.
THE SAFE-HAVEN LAW
In general, the “Safe-Haven” Law (or Safely Surrendered Baby Law) in the United States allows a parent or person with lawful custody to surrender a baby to a Safe Surrender Site. Safe-Haven sites typically include hospitals/emergency medical services, police stations and fire stations. In some states, personnel responding to 911 calls and even emergency medical technicians can accept an infant. This law provides confidentiality without the fear of prosecution for abandoning a child. And some states allow parents to abandon unwanted children under the age of 19 with no questions asked.
Visit the STATE STATUES SEARCH HERE for specific state laws.
Although there may be controversy surrounding these state laws, ANY PARENT OR CAREGIVER WHO FEELS THEY ARE GOING TO HARM THEIR CHILD SHOULD RELINQUISH THEIR CUSTODY TO AUTHORITIES IMMEDIATELY – THERE IS HELP OUT THERE, EVERYWHERE!