After CO Child Deaths, Expert Explains Five Kinds of Filicide


People tend to believe that any parent who kills a child — especially a mother — must be crazy, but a leading expert on the crime says it isn’t true, says the Denver Post. “The view that parents who deliberately kill their children are ‘mad or bad’ is too simple,” said Dr. Phillip Resnick, director of forensic psychiatry at Case Western Reserve University. Mental illness is a big factor, he said, but so is desperation.

Kelli Lynn Murphy, the 41-year-old Castle Rock, Co., mother accused in the deaths of her son, Liam, 9, and daughter, Madigan, 6, called a police dispatcher Monday and said she intended to kill herself. When asked about any children in the home, she said: “They are in heaven.” Researchers estimate 250 to 300 children are murdered by their parents each year in the U.S. “Historically, one out of 33 homicides is a parent killing a child younger than 18,” Resnick said. Filicide, the deliberate act of a parent killing his or her own child, is the third-leading cause of death in American children ages 5 to 14, Resnick says. He has identified five main types of filicide, which vary according to parent gender.

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