Filicide: children killed by parents is increasingly common
Filicide is defined as when a parent kills his or her own son or daughter. From the sounds of it you would think it is an awful and rare crime, however, it is very common in the world and more importantly the United States.
More than 200 women in the United States kill their children every year according to aaanet.org. It is believed that some of them were suffering from postpartum depression and others, in more severe yet less common cases, suffer from postpartum psychosis. "While postpartum depression occurs in up to twenty percent of women who have children, psychotic manifestations are much rarer, and thus much less understood. Only one in five hundred births result in the mother's postpartum psychosis," says forensic psychiatrist Michael Welner.
One of the best known cases of maternal filicide is that of Andrea Yates who, in June of 2001, drowned all five of her children claiming that she "was a bad mother and deserved to be punished". Yates believed that her children were not developing properly and that she was a bad mother. Her reasoning for killing her children was that if she had not killed them sending them to heaven, they would have sent themselves to hell by the way they were acting.
There were also several cases dating back to the 80s where Theresa Cross killed her husband and was released on a self defense plea. Within a span of 10 years she eventually killed 2 of her six children. The first daughter she shot with a .22, however, this did not kill her. The daughter recovered and later decided she wanted to move out. The crazy mother agreed with the stipulation on the condition that the bullet be removed. By her brother. There were complications to the in-home surgery which led to infection. The mother decided it was too risky to get her help so she took her to a forest and burned her. The next daughter was sent out to be a prostitute and, when Cross suspected a pregnancy, locked her in a closet where she died, and Cross took her body to an empty field in a cardboard box.
Susan Smith who, in the early 90s, had been divorced and recently dumped by her boyfriend because of her two sons, rolled her car, containing her two sons, down a boat ramp into a lake. She claimed she was planning on killing both herself and her sons because they were better off without her. She tried to convince everyone that a black man had car-jacked her and then kicked her out of the car, not allowing her to take her children. After nine days of grueling interrogation, she finally confessed to the crime.
Finally, Ellen Feinberg, a pediatrician who stabbed her two sons killing one and injuring the other, was released to the mental institution on an insanity plea.
Mothers aren't the only ones who have been known to kill their children. Paternal filicide, though not as common as maternal, still happens. Generally, when fathers decide that death is the only way out, they end up killing both their children and themselves. Sometimes, in severe cases, they kill the entire family, also known as familicide. According to crimelibrary.com, "Perhaps the most common reason found among those men who eliminate their children is just the feeling of being overwhelmed and frustrated, with no apparent way out except through someone's death. More than 50 percent of murders of children by a parent are done by the mother. Nevertheless, when it comes to wiping out an entire family, fathers lead the pack."
There have been three reported filicide cases since the year began. January 9, 2008 in Alabama a fisherman named Lam Luong admitted to throwing his four children off of an 80 foot bridge after having fought with his wife for two days. He first claimed the woman who had the children failed to bring them back, and it was suspected that he had traded them for drugs because of the man's long history of crack-cocaine addiction. Luong will face four capitol murder charges.
Thursday, January 17, a man was seen throwing a boy off a Honolulu over pass and into traffic of a busy freeway 30 feet below. It turns out the man was not the baby's father, but a baby sitter who had recently been subjected to psychiatric testing.
The most recent case, a woman from Wisconsin who was reportedly suffering from depression after the death of her 18 year old son, tried to drown her two week old twins. The grandmother arrived at the home and the mother admitted that her babies were deceased. The grandmother rushed into the room to find one of the babies dead and the other one struggling for life, so she rushed him to the emergency room to be saved.
Depression or not, there is no excuse for murder. If these parents would do something about their health rather than neglect it, many children would be saved.