Unexpected Killers: A Look Into Parricide EN 101: English Composition Miller-Motte Online Stacey Reid UNEXPECTED KILLERS: A LOOK INTO PARRICIDE 2 Several nights ago, my eight year old daughter and I were lying on the sofa together watching a movie. I remember stroking her hair as she fell asleep and thinking, as I often do, how much I love her. If you are a parent, then you know exactly the kind of moment I am describing: the moments where you are overwhelmed with the love you feel for your child, but what if that child, one day, turned out to be a killer?
Worse yet, what if you, their parent, turned out to be their victim? Most of us couldn’t imagine meeting our deaths at the hands of one of our children, but for some parents it becomes reality.
Parricide, the murder of a parent by their child, accounts for 3 percent of all homicides in the United States. Although this is a very small number in the great scheme of things, it translates to about 5 parents per week being murdered by their children, which I think really puts it into perspective.
Parricide is fascinating, and always presents one main question to us: Why do they do it?
There are varying motivational factors and circumstances surrounding parricide. First, as one might suspect, mental illness often plays a role in parricides. I personally can’t imagine a child who is mentally stable and who has a secure, balanced home life killing their parents. Therefore, I think it is fair to say that there is almost always going to be some form of mental and/or emotional instability present when a child commits parricide. Unfortunately, in most cases, the condition goes undiagnosed and, thus, untreated, until it is too late.
Findings show that in cases where a mental illness is diagnosed prior to the parricide, it is most often major depression, bipolar disorder or some form of conduct disorder. The minority of diagnoses are psychotic disorders such as schizophrenia (Malmquist, 2010). Many offenders and their attorneys are successful at getting their charges reduced or their sentences lightened as a result of a diagnosed mental illness, and some, found to be incompetent, never even go to trial. There are also cases where the defendants are acquitted in court on the grounds of self-defense.
These are usually children whose mental and emotional instabilities stem from years of abuse suffered at the hands of a parent. UNEXPECTED KILLERS: A LOOK INTO PARRICIDE 3 Abuse is undoubtedly the most frequent cause of parricide. Los Angeles defense attorney, Paul Mones, who specializes in representing parricide offenders, says that over 90 percent of his cases have been the victims of severe abuse by the parent they killed. These are children who, often times, feel that there is no other option.
They have reached a breaking point at which the conditions at home have become so unbearable that, percievably, the only way to escape is to kill the person or persons responsible for inflicting the pain. One might wonder why these children don’t just ask for help from Child Services, teachers or other family members. The sad truth is that they often do seek help, to no avail. Their claims may have been ignored by those they asked. Some of them may have even tried to run away only to be found and returned home by law enforcement or on their own because they find they have nowhere else to go.
They absolutely believe that the only remaining option for self-preservation is to eliminate the source of the threat. In addition to self-preservation, the preservation or defense of another parent or family member is sometimes the reason for parricide. Many children witness the severe abuse of a parent or sibling by the other parent. I can personally attest to how painful and emotionally damaging it can be to see your family members suffer abuse and mistreatment inflicted by another family member.
I can honestly say that there were times growing up that I wished death upon my father, knowing that we (the rest of the family) would be much happier if we didn’t have to endure his drunken, abusive rampages everyday. Luckily it didn’t come to that because my dad eventually sought help, got sober and finally stopped the abuse. However, for most children the reality is that the abuse doesn’t end. It gets worse, eventually leaving no other option but to eliminate the offending parent. They feel that this is the only way to change the family dynamic, and though this may sound blasphemous, most often it does change it… or the better. There have been several such cases in the media in recent years. One is of a 10 year-old boy who stabbed his father to death after he (the father), allegedly drunk, threatened to beat his mother and siblings with a steel pipe. Police said the family had endured their father’s abuse UNEXPECTED KILLERS: A LOOK INTO PARRICIDE 4 for years and that the boy and his mother showed physical signs that proved it. Most would agree that parricide as a means of self defense or defense of a family member is often justifiable. However, there are sometimes more disturbing and sinister reasons behind it.
Believe it or not, some children who kill their parents do it out of sheer frustration or because something didn’t go their way. There was a story in the media back in 2007 that, to this day, gives me chills. Sixteen year-old Daniel Petric, the son of Mark and Sue Petric, a couple in their mid-forties, was a seemingly normal teenager. He enjoyed sports, hanging out with his friends and video games. His father, a pastor, and his mother, both agreed that Daniel was spending to much time playing violent and sexually explicit video games, particularly “Halo 3. His parents confiscated the game from Daniel and put it away in a locked box: the same box where his dad’s 9mm pistol was kept. Outraged at the punishment imposed by his parents, on October 20th, 2007, Daniel broke into the box to retrieve his game, but that wasn’t all he got out of the box. He walked into the living room and said to his parents “Would you guys close your eyes, I have a surprise for you:” and what a surprise it was. Daniel shot his father once in the face and his mother three times. His father survived, but his mother wasn’t as fortunate.
Petric’s defense attorney would later argue that the boy had been home bound for almost a year after a snowboarding accident, and as a result had become severely “frustrated. ” In an emotional testimony, Daniel’s father told the court that he forgave Daniel and selflessly pleaded for his son’s life. It is obvious that Daniel Petric was suffering some sort of emotional or mental instability at the time of the incident, but, nevertheless, it is scary to think that a child could feel so entitled to something that he would kill his own parents for it. This was, undoubtedly, an unjustified case of parricide.
Also unjustified in their actions, are those children that kill their parents for attention or other selfish reasons. Although few in numbers, there are some rare cases of dangerously anti-social children that kill for attention, usually with their parents on the receiving end. Some children, on the other hand, do it for other selfish reasons. For instance, a 16 year-old Texas girl and her boyfriend, along with two other UNEXPECTED KILLERS: A LOOK INTO PARRICIDE 5 male accomplices, killed her mother and two younger brothers, age 8 and 13, inside their home and then set fire to the house in an attempt to hide the evidence.
Her father, though badly injured, was able to escape and crawl to a neighbors house for help. The girl made the decision to kill her family after a dispute over the amount of time she was spending with her much older boyfriend. The offenders that commit these types of parricides almost always display conduct and or social problems, but usually have fairly normal home lives ( Heide, 2012). For the most part, these children seem to thoroughly enjoy the media attention, and very rarely do they show remorse for their actions.
Each year, 300 parents are killed by their children, and as I discussed, there are many possible factors that can play into parricide. Sometimes it is easy to sympathize with the child who kills his parents, especially if he was the victim of abuse, or was coming to the aid of the other parent or a sibling who was suffering abuse. On the other hand, n those rare instances where it was out of selfishness, frustration or the need for attention, it is hard not to be horrified and appalled. It makes you wonder what was going through that child’s mind.
Moreover, it makes you wonder what was going through the parent’s mind when the knife was being jabbed into them, or the gun being pointed at them by, of all people, their own child. References Heide, K. M. ( 1992 ) . Why Kids Kill Parents . Retrieved from http://www. psychologytoday. com/articles/200910/why-kids-kill-parents Malmquist, C. P. ( 2010 ) . Adolescent Parricide as a Legal and Clinical Problem . Retrieved from http://www. jaapl. org/content/38/1/73. full Anderson, J. (1992) . Attorney Defends Children who Kill a Parent . Retrieved from http://www. paulmones. com/media/newspaper-articles/parricide/attorney-defends-
Cite this Unexpected Killers: a Look Into Parricide
Unexpected Killers: a Look Into Parricide. (2016, Oct 22). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/unexpected-killers-a-look-into-parricide/