Parricide–Kids Killing Out Of “Desperation Or Terror”


His mother bought son Andrew Taylor a rifle because he was a history buff and it looked like a weapon used in the Vietnam War. In January, the 16-year-old Ravensdale, Wa., boy emerged from his bedroom with tears in his eyes, leveled the military-style SKS carbine at his father and pulled the trigger, says the King County (Wa.) Journal. He told police he thought his dad was going to hurt his mother. Local authorities since then encountered another case of what experts call parricide, the act of a child taking the life of their parent or guardian. This time it was a 13-year-old boy accused of stabbing to death his grandmother who had raised him since he was in diapers.

Despite their similarities, the two cases represent a minority of homicides in the United States involving sons and daughters who turn on their parents and guardians. “Most parents who are killed by their children are killed by adult children,” said Kathleen M. Heide, a professor of criminology at the University of South Florida, who has written two books studying the phenomenon of children who kill their parents. When the killer is a child, she said, “the child most often kills out of desperation or terror. They want to end the abuse, and oftentimes they’re desperate. They see no other way out than homicide.” In the Taylor case, prosecutors haven’t decided after four months whether to file charges.


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