Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Maternal Filicide: Spousal Revenge Motive: Facts vs. Ideology (24 cases)

Here is an example of the application of the Marxist-oriented ideology which holds that individual human behavior is exclusively (or primarily) determined by “socializing” (or other material forces). Social engineering, according to this utopian belief system, which in much of the professional world is accepted as irrefutable dogma, would when enforced by government be able to employ an alternative “social construction” in order to eliminate crime.

The specific topic is filicide (the killing of a child by its own parent). The sociologist uses standard Marxist "social constructionist" theories to argue the false position that women who commit filicide do not do with any conscious malicious volition and instead of being persons with agency, with personal responsibility for their own decisions and actions.

The false claims by Wilenski are used by others to paint a false picture of the crime, promoting the false view that men and women behave in accordance with the Marxist theory of patriarchal oppression, such as exhibited in the radical "social constructionist" blogger Barry Deutch’s claims:

The typical father-killer is a longtime abuser, and is motivated by a desire to control his family, or by jealousy because he believes (rightly or wrongly) that his wife is cheating on him or leaving him. (He is, however, sane, in the legal sense that he has an understanding of right and wrong.) The typical mother-killer is committing neonaticide in a context of postpartum depression, denial, and social isolation; or, if she’s killing an older child, she’s doing so out of a deranged belief that the child is better off dead. [Nov. 21, 2008]

UPDATE: These are now:dead links
Here is the debate on the Wilczynski’s article between a father’s rights writer, Robert Franklin, and writer, Barry Deutsch, which prompted creation of the post you are now viewing:

2) Barry Deutsch (“Ampersand”), “Mothers and Fathers Who Murder Get Treated Differently Because They're Different,” Alas! A Blog, Nov. 21, 2008

You will find that the evidence presented below (which was not part of Wilczynski’s research) does not support the Neo-Marxist "social constructionist" argument.


EXCERPT FROM 1995 article by Ania Wilczynski:

“Marked sex differences were also apparent in filicide motivation. While men tend to predominate in the retaliating, jealousy and discipline categories of filicide, women tend to be found in the unwanted child, altruistic and psychotic categories…. The literature reports comparable results on both these findings. [Note: The phrasing “tend to” is used by Wilczynski to hide the fact that the differences which she claims show a clear difference between sexes may not indeed be very marked. The wording facilitates a sound-bite style statement to be made and disseminated by journalists which implies there exists a strong (or even a black-and-white) contrast between male and female motivations.]

The gender differences in filicide motivation indicate that an understanding of the social construction of masculinity and femininity may be crucial to an adequate understanding of filicide. Men are socialized to be unemotional, aggressive, dominant and sexually possessive. Therefore their filicides tend to most commonly involve retaliation, jealousy and discipline. Conversely, social norms encourage women to be passive, nurturant and self-sacrificing. Hence women’s filicides tend to be found in the altruistic, psychotic and neonaticide categories. Thus, while filicide is often seen as an aberrant and inexplicable act committed by someone who is either evil or mentally deranged, it is important to place the crime in its social context and to see that it represents in extreme form the playing out of traditional gender roles.” [The “psychotic” designation allows perpetrators who are retaliating and jealous to be eliminated from the statistical group, yet the designation “psychotic” which is usually applied during the court process following the crime is in many instances is highly arbitrary [and frequently countered by disagreeing forensic evaluators] and unsupported by genuinely scientific evidence.]

[Wilczynski, Ania (Dec. 1995). “Child Killing By Parents: A Motivational Model.” Child Abuse Review, Vol. 4, Issue 5, pp. 365-370.]


CRITIQUE of this viewpoint:

“The female ‘retaliators’ tended to be motivated by resentment at their lack of power.” [Wilczynski]

A great irony exists in the method employed in this study whereby “emphasis was placed on the subjects’ explanations for their behavior.” When the author takes the perpetrators claims at face value she is ignoring the possibility that the perpetrator is presenting a rationalization of the murder that would be consistent with a personality disorder. The rationalizing and the compulsive blaming of others of the person who acts anti-socially, who has a personality disorder, is not considered by the author. Neo-Marxist theories that women are class victims of male class-“power” is given the spotlight.

A circularity of thought which reveals itself. We are expected to accept the Marxist “social conditioning” hypothesis as an explanation as a primary causative factor. It follows that since the perpetrators have been exposed to (“conditioned by”) 19th century class-warfare theories, which are ubiquitously found in our culture, which promote the idea that women should always see themselves as victims and that any personal dissatisfaction can be explained by “gendered” oppression, then the verbal explanations given by female perpetrators citing their “lack of power” as a motivation might themselves be described as a “social conditioning.” “Gender” ideology provides a standardized script or formula which the female perpetrator, when being interviewed by the Neo-Marxist, merely regurgitates in a manner typical of one who suffers from a narcissistic or borderline personality.

Since men have not been conditioned to adopt the “gender” victimization, then script their verbal statements – whether rationalizing or not – will not follow the ideological formula (the “get out of jail free” card) promoted for exclusive use by women. Yet it is obvious that both men and women in all child custody disputes are equally experiencing personal frustration over a “lack of power” in one form or another. These cases are not battles in a war between the Woman Army versus the Man Army. These parents are not mere pawns in, what in Marxist terms would be the “dialectical struggle” in the “historically inevitable” march toward utopia. Yet these people are real, and highly complex, individual adults with individual agency.

An examination of 24 news reports (cataloged and summarized below) on filicide cases involving female “retaliators” (in Neo-Marxist labeling) however paints a much different picture of motivation of these women who murdered their own children while in a dispute with their father than the dogma-derived one constructed by Wilczynski.

The 24 cases dating from 1905 to 2010 displayed below exhibit verbal explanations that are of a sort that Wilczynski does not seem to have been able to locate in cases she has researched. These verbal explanations in these 24 cases are candid revelations of a revenge motive. The statements made by these filicidal mothers are not, for the most part, expressions of regret but rather are self-justifications that seem to make sense to the rationalizing perpetrator as explanations of justifiable actions. Within the framework of the world view of an anti-social, abnormal, personality the expressions of a vengeful motive are perfectly, if perversely, consistent and logical. The actions and the attendant rationalizations do not display a “gendered” difference. Men who commit these acts will often do so for exactly the same reasons. The perverse logic of the filicidal parent is echoed in the perverse logic of the ideologue who tries to subsume all individual human experience under an ideology of class struggle (the sexes being, in this viewpoint, two “classes” in conflict).

We can apply this observation of the distortion of reality on the part of Neo-Marxist interpreters of filicides to the entire area of the Neo-Marxist discourse on “domestic violence.” Violent men are always to be classified as agents of the patriarchal conspiracy while violent women are to be always classified as “retaliators” against that patriarchal conspiracy.

The bizarre result of this ideology-fixation personality disorder that we see displayed by Neo-Marxist sociologist Wilczynski and blogger Deutsch – and tens of thousands of other professional Neo-Marxists is that violence by women against girls, boys (and even against other adult women) must be rationalized away by convoluted arguments – must be “disappeared” – in the service of the grand march to the Marxist utopia.


24 Cases - Maternal Filicide: Spousal Revenge Motive

1905 – Gades – Anna “Annie” Gades (Mother-perpetrator), Hans Gades (19 months, murdered), Mr. Gades (Father-“Left-Behind”); New York, N. Y.

On Jul. 18, 1905, in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn, N. Y., Anna Gades stabbed her 19-month-old son, Hans, to death in New York. She told police that: “There was no reason to kill Hans, but when I could not get a chance to kill my husband, because he watched me so closely, I had to kill his son for revenge. I hated to kill the boy, but I wanted to make his father wretched.” [“Kills Child For Revenge - “Woman Stabs a Nineteen Months Old Baby to Inflict Pain Upon Husband - Crazed By Jealousy - Knife Driven Through Infant’s Body So Forcibly That Mother Is Wounded,” The Call (San Francisco, Ca.), Jul. 20, 1905, p. 2]

“Believing the loss of his son would be the most cruel blow she could inflict on her husband, Mrs. Anna Gades, 34 years old, of Williamsburg, in a fit of jealousy and anger stabbed and killed her 13-month-old child, Hans.” [“Mother Murders Babe to Spite Her Husband – Believing Spouse Was Paying Too Much Attention to Her Sister, Woman Sought Revenge,” Janesville Gazette (Wi), Jul. 20, 1905, p. 8]

Bibliography: “May Die of Police Neglect – McAdoo Investigating Treatment of Mrs. Gades, Who Killed Her Baby,” New York Times, Jul. 21, 1905, p. 7;  “Woman Violent in Court – Mrs. Gades, Who Killed Her Child, Causes Scene When Arraigned,” New York Times, Jul. 27, 1905, p. 2

1919 – Dunn – Gladys Courvoisier Dunn (Mother-perpetrator), J. Allan Dunn Jr. (2 ½, murdered), J. Allan Dunn (Father-“Left-Behind”); Pittsfield, Massachusetts

Aug. 11, 1918 = Murder

Pleaded guilty to manslaughter; sentenced to one year of hard labor; Motive: mother’s jealousy of father’s love for child explicitly stated; previous threat; drank chloroform, father had emptied gun clip before she could shoot herself.

Detective Bligh testifies about his interview of the defendant: “Do you realize that you have done wrong in shooting the child?” he is alleged to have asked. “I don’t think so,” she replied. “Mrs. Dunn, did you ever hear of the Ten Commandments?” “No, what are they?” “One of them: ‘Thou Shalt Not Kill.’” “Well, if God had any children, He would have thought differently?” The prosecution will combat the plea of emotional insanity, put forth by the defense, with one alleging jealousy of the child as a murder motive. Bligh aided in getting this idea before the jury when he told of Mrs. Dunn telling him that ‘she hoped the child would die because of unhappy relations between her and her husband.” … Bligh said that a quarrel had occured on the morning of the tragedy between Dunn and the child’s mother. She told Bligh, according to the testimony, that Dunn found fault with her cooking, following which she threw porridge over the magazine writer and ran upstairs.”   (Typos: defense attorney’s name: “Knoxson,” “Dixon,” “Nixon”) [“Dunn’s Action Saves Slayer from Suicide – Detective Testifies at the Trial That Removal of Cartidge Clip From Pistol Prevented Mrs. Courvoisier’s Death – Defense for Killing Three-Year-Old Boy to Be Emotional Insanity; Tried to End Her Life With Poison,” Oakland Tribune, Jul. 25, 1919, p. 1]

1920 – Marino – Maria (“Mary,” “Marie”) Marino (Mother-perpetrator), Angelina Marino (5, killed), James Marino (Father-”Left-Behind”); New York, N. Y.

Mrs. Marie Marino, 25 years old, hurled her five-year-old daughter, Evangelina, in the path of an automobile at Eastern Parkway and Rockaway Avenue, Brooklyn, yesterday, and attempted to throw herself under the wheels of the car. Her husband, James, a barber, dragged her to safety, but the child’s skull was fractured so that she died. The impulse to kill herself and her daughter, the woman told Detectives Donelson and Reif and Assistant District Attorney John Hurley, attacked her when her husband refused to return to her. She was locked up in the Brownsville Station charged with homicide.

The couple, who had separated several times recently and took their grievance to the Domestic Relations Court. They were in court yesterday and after they left Marino told his wife he would sue her for divorce. “There’s your child,” cried the woman throwing the girl  in front of the automobile when she heard Marino’s declaration. Marino was held as a material witness pending the police investigation of the case. [“Hurls Child in Auto’s Path – Mother Then Attempts Suicide – Says Marital Troubles Caused Act.” The New York Times (N.Y.), Jun. 5, 1920, p. 32]

Bibliography: “Mother Throws Child to Death Under Auto,” syndicated, The Kokomo Daily Tribune (In.), Jun. 19, 1920, p. 6; “Mother Acquitted of Killing Child.” The New York Times (N.Y.), Jul. 24, 1920, p. 4

1926 – Millman – Belle Millman (Mother-perpetrator) Joseph Millman (Father-”Left-Behind”), Martin (3, murdered); New York, N. Y.

Murder = Aug. 3, 1926

“A young mother in the Bronx, estranged from her husband, lifted her 3-year-old son to the telephone yesterday and had him speak to his father. ‘Hello daddy,’ the father heard the child say. ‘Don’t say “Hello, daddy,”‘ came the mother’s voice. ‘Say “Good-bye, daddy.’” The child said it and a moment later the husband heard his wife’s voice, distinct and vindictive: ‘It seems that the only way I can get ahead of you is to kill the child.’ The receiver was hung up with a bang. The husband hurried out desperately to find the wife and child.” [“Mother Kills Son and Died by Own Gun – First Has Son Say ‘Good-Bye Daddy’ Over Phone To Her Estranged Husband. – Boy Slain While at Play – Bodies Found In Bushes – Wife Got Custody of Lad on Monday After Two Years of Litigation,” The New York Times (N. Y.), Aug 4, 1926, p. 21]

1938 – Thomsen – Marguerite Thomsen (Mother-perpetrator), Frank Thomsen (Father-”Left-Behind”), Kathleen (3, murdered), Frank Jr. (5 mo., murdered); Babylon, Long Island, N. Y.

Murder = Aug. 8, 1938

For two days a 25-year-old mother sulked because her husband refused to take her to the movie, “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.” [sic] Then she conceived a revenge as sordid as their existence back in the scrubland of West Babylon, L. I. Yesterday she took her two babies, one at a time, and smothered them to death.

1943 – Martin / Frailey – Mary K. Martin Frailey (Mother-perpetrator), Louise Beaumont Martin (6, murdered), Watt Martin Martin III (7, critically wounded), Watt Martin, Jr. (Father-”Left-Behind”); Dallas, Texas

Murder = May 6, 1943

“I just couldn’t bear to have them taken from me. I’d rather have them dead than away from me,”  “I did not want to give my children to their father or anyone else.” [“Murder Charged To Mother In Shooting Of Two Children,” syndicated (UP), The Abilene Reporter-News (Tx.), May 7, 1943, p. 14]

1954 – Flodstrom – Shirley Lane Flodstrom (Mother-perpetrator), Richard Flodstrom (Father-”Left-Behind”), David Andrew Flodstrom (6 mo, murdered), Richard Jr., (10 mo, died “mysteriously”); San Jose, California
Murder = Oct. 13, 1954

Revenge motive explicitly stated; probably murdered two children.

“I was upset.” Collins quoted her as saying. “My husband had been picking on me all morning. The baby was fussy and wouldn’t sleep. Dick had gone to work. Suddenly everything went black. I remember it all. I stuffed the pajama sleeve in his mouth until he stopped breathing. It was to repay my husband. I didn’t think of it long, though. I just came into my head.” [“Wife Admits Killing Baby To Get Even With Spouse,” Oakland Tribune, Oct. 13, 1954, p. 8]

Bibliography: “Attorney Claims Mother Denies Slaying Child,” The Bakersfield Californian (Ca.), Oct. 14, 1954, p. 2, photo

1958 – Pena – Rosa Pena (Mother-perpetrator, att. suicide), David Pena (6), Alvin Pena (4), Richard Pena (2), Alfonso Pena (Father-”Left-Behind”); San Antonio, Texas

Murders = Aug. 17, 1958

EXCERPT: “I have just drowned my three children,” said a 29-year-old mother, who stood in line to await her turn at the police complaint desk. “Lady, you didn’t make this up did you?” asked Sgt. Caesar Bernal. “I only wish I had,” replied Mrs. Rosa Pena. Bernal quickly dispatched three squad cars and three ambulances to her small frame home, in a poorer section of San Antonio. Patrolmen found three small boys dead – David, 6, Alvin, 4, and Richard, 2. A medical examiner said the youngsters apparently had been drowned, as the mother told Bernal. One body lay in a hallway, the other two in the kitchen. Bernal said Mrs. Pena became hysterical under questioning and when asked why she killed the children could only sob:

“I didn’t want my husband to have them.”

Mrs. Pena, booked at city jail for murder, was placed in a hospital for treatment for shock. A police guard was ordered. She told police that she and her husband had been having domestic difficulties. She quoted Pena as saying  if she left him, he would take the children away from her.

“If I can’t have them, no one can,” she declared.

[“San Antonio Woman, 24, Drowns 3 Children; ‘I Didn’t Want My Husband To Have Them,’ She Tells Police,” The Titusville Herald (Pa.), Aug. 18, 1958, p. 1]

1974 – Curry – Shirley Marie Curry (Mother-perpetrator), Sabrina Marie Curry (17, murdered), Richard Allen Curry (son, 14, murdered), Jessie Lee Curry (son, 11, murdered), Jimmy Lee Curry (ex-husband, murdered), Mrs. Jo Ann Brophy (step-sister of ex-h, murdered); Lowell, Arkansas

“I’ll kill them all.” [from: “Lowell Woman Charged With Killing Four Committed to State Hospital; Future Trial Dismissed by Cummings,” Northwest Arkansas Times (Fayetteville), Sep. 26, 1974, p. 1]

FULL TEXT: Fayetteville, Ark. – a woman who police said wanted to “solve all the heartaches and hurts” killed her three children, her former husband and his stepsister Saturday. Shirley Marie Curry, 37, of Lowell, wounded a former brother-in-law also, police said, and was arrested in Fayetteville less than two hours after the killings. She was held without bond and authorities said they would charge her Monday with five counts of murder and possibly assault with intent to kill. Sheriff’s Deputy J. D. Snow said Mrs. Curry had lost a custody fight over one of her children Friday, and that “festered in her mind.” “Apparently she thought this would solve all her problems,” Snow said. He quoted her as telling him. “This, maybe, solves all the heartaches and hurts.” Police believe Mrs. Curry first shot her sons, Richard A., 14, and Jesse L., 11, at her home in Lowell. Her former husband, Jimmy Lee Curry, 42, their daughter, Sabrina, 17, and Johann Brophy, 27, Curry’s stepsister, were killed in Springdale. [“Shots Kill 5; ‘All Heartaches, Hurts Solved’,” syndicated (UPI), Los Angeles Times (Ca.), Jul. 21, 1974, part 1, p. 4]

Bibliography: “Lowell Woman Arrested After Five Die In Wild Shooting Spree - Sixth Victim In Serious Condition,” Northwest Arkansas Times (Fayetteville, Ar.), Jul. 20, 1974, p. 1; Seth Blomeley, “Chancellor Butt has spent nearly 50 years of hard work and no nonsense on the bench,” Arkansas Democrat-Gazette (Little Rock, Ar.), Sep. 21, 1998]

1987 – Baldwin – Bess F. Baldwin (Mother-perpetrator), Clayton Baldwin (5, murdered), Mr. Baldwin  (Father-”Left Behind”); Niangua, Missouri

In October 1987 Bess Baldwin, of Niangua, Missouri, population 445, shot and killed her five-year-old son Clayton while he slept. She told police it was and accident, yet later she confessed that killed the child “because she was upset at her husband.” She ended up providing three different accounts of the event. She was found guilty of second-degree murder on May 13, 1988. [UhoM]

Bibliography: “Ozarks’ past filled with tragic murders of young children,” Springfield News-Leader (Mo.), Jan. 24, 1999, p. 1-B; “Mother Is Convicted In Death Of Son, 5,” syndicated (AP), St. Louis Post-Dispatch (Mo.), May 13, 1988, p. 7-A

1995 – Farrar / Green – Debora Green (Mother-perpetrator), Michael Farrar (Father-”Left-Behind,” poisoned), Kate (11, survived murder attempt), Tim (14, murdered), Kelly (6, murdered); Kansas City, Missouri
Dr. Debora Green, of Kansas City, Missouri, poisoned her doctor husband with a lethal slow poison, leaving him with permanent heart damage. She alienated her son, Tim from his father and blamed him for both poisoning his father and for the fire which she herself set which killed her son and one of her younger daughter, Kelly (6). When the elder daughter Kate (11), jumped down into her mothers arms, Debora deliberately let her fall to the ground, but she survived. This bizarre case was the subject of Ann Rule’s riveting 1997 book, Bitter Harvest. [UhoM]

Bibliography: Source: Tony Rizzo, “Green gets life sentence; She ‘had emotional capability of a 1-year-old’ Drinking, mental illness helped lead to murders of children, she tells court,” Kansas City Star (Mo.), May 31, 1996, p. 1

1997 – Armstrong / Eubanks – Susan Eubanks (Mother-perpetrator, attempted suicide); Brandon Armstrong (14), Austin Eubanks (7), Brigham Eubanks (6), Matthew Eubanks (4); John Armstrong (Father-”Left-Behind”), Eric Eubanks (Father-”Left-Behind”); San Marcos, California

Susan Eubanks murdered her four sons, aged 14, 7, 6 and 4, on October 26, 1997. She claimed she was protecting them by shooting them to death. The boys were the sons of two different fathers.

Mrs. Eubanks had spent the day drinking and arguing with her boyfriend. Just hours after deputies helped the boyfriend move out of Eubanks’ San Marcos home, Eubanks went on the shooting spree. She prepared by writing five suicide notes and called her estranged husband, Eric Eubanks, with a chilling message: ‘Say goodbye.’”

A note to her ex-husband read: “I’ve lost everybody I’ve loved. Now it’s time for you to do the same.”

Bibliography:: Minerva Canto, “Mother’s Trial Begins In Slaying Of Four Sons,” Contra Costa Times (Walnut Creek, Cal.), Aug. 10, 1999, p. A-7; [Minerva Canto, Death Penalty Sought For Mom Who Killed Sons Drugs, Alcohol And Rage Led To Murder Of Four Boys,” Hamilton Spectator (Ontario, Canada), August 27, 1999, F-11

1997 – Cortez / Hamilton – Sharonda Hamilton (Mother-perpetrator, attempted suicide), Jessica Dawn Hamilton (2, murdered), Terry Cortez (Father-”Left-Behind”); Gainesville, Texas

Murder = Apr. 2, 1997

“She told me sometimes, ‘You’ll never see the baby again,’” he said. “It was like, if she couldn’t be with me, then I couldn’t be with the baby.” [Kendall Anderson, “Mother indicted in slaying Woman is accused of killing 2-year-old,” The Dallas Morning News (Tx), Mar. 19, 1998, p. 31-A]

Terry Cortez said he never wanted to take full custody of his 2-year-old daughter away from the child’s mother. Now, he wonders whether his desire to be a good father cost him his daughter’s life. Less than two weeks after a Dallas County judge gave Mr. Cortez temporary custody of the child, the girl’s 24-year-old mother took 2-year-old Jessica for what was supposed to be a two-hour visit and never returned.

“The only issue I had was I wasn’t getting to see my daughter after we were separated - all I wanted was to see my daughter,” said Mr. Cortez, 20, who broke up with Ms. Hamilton early last year.

“I wonder what would have happened if I let it be, if I said, `OK! You don’t want me to see my daughter. OK. I’ll wait until she is old enough and comes looking for me.” [Michael Saul, “Custody issues haunt dad after toddler’s death Mom in hospital faces questioning after girl’s body found in Gainesville,” The Dallas Morning News (Tx), April 6, 1997, p. 29-A]

Bibliography: Stephen Power, “Dallas Toddler Found Dead At Gainesville Motel; Police Say Mom Hospitalized After Driving Car Into Red River,” Dallas Morning News, Apr. 5, 1997, p. 29-A; Kendall Anderson, “Mother indicted in slaying Woman is accused of killing 2-year-old,” The Dallas Morning News (Tx), Mar. 19, 1998, p. 31-A

1997 – Huster – Karen Lee Huster (Mother-perpetrator), Elisabeth Anne Huster (9, murdered), Michael Huster (Father-“Left-Behind”) – Tigrad, Oregon

Murder: August 1996 or after

Knapp said that Huster told an inmate: "I smothered my daughter -- I did it so that Mike (ex-husband) could not have her.” … Knapp said Huster told psychiatrists after her arrest that she shot her daughter in the head, cut up the body and threw parts of it into the Pacific Ocean from a boat chartered for whale watching. Huster told one of the psychologists she dismembered her daughter's body because she "couldn't afford a funeral," Knapp said. "She is driven by rage" and has "no empathy or remorse. She is cold, not crazy," Knapp said in concluding his opening argument.

Police believe Karen Lee Huster murdered her young daughter five years ago during a period when she was fighting with her ex-husband for custody. Elisabeth Anne was 9-years-old when she was last seen in August 1996. The girl's body has never been found. There wasn’t enough evidence to arrest Huster after Elisabeth’s disappearance.  But years later, police found the dismembered body of Huster’s missing roommate in two freezers in her apartment. [KGW and AP, “Staff Prosecutor: Huster Killed Daughter, Dumped Corpse in Ocean,” KGW and AP Staff Jan. 8, 2002]

1999 – Caro – Soccoro “Cora” Caro (Mother-perpetrator, att. suicide), Caro – Joey Caro (11, murdered), Michael Caro (8, murdered), Christopher Caro (5, murdered), Xavier Caro (Father-”Left-Behind”); California

Nov. 22, 1999 = murder

Soccoro “Cora” Caro murdered her three sons and tried to blame the victim’s father, a physician, for her crimes. She arranged the corpse of the father’s favorite, Joey, so that the father would find the body of his child face-up for maximum effect.

 Caro 45 offered no significant reaction except to slump slightly in her chair and dab her eyes with tissues. Hours before she was sentenced however she turned to her husband -- whom the defense blamed for the killings -- and let her emotions flow. “How could you do this to us?” she said as the bailiff led her away during the lunch break. “How could you?” When she didn’t get an answer she yelled “Look! He’s smirking at me! He’s smirking at me!” Her outburst continued as deputies cleared the courtroom. …
During the trial the defense tried to pin the killings on Xavier Caro who found the boys and his wife that night. But the physical evidence -- the children’s blood on her clothes her bloody palm print on a door frame gunpowder residue on her hands -- helped convince the jury she was guilty. …

[W]hen [Judge] Coleman refused to modify the death verdict Courtroom 46 was hushed as he gave a detailed chronology of what occurred the night of the murders.  He found that Caro shot Joey first and that he died instantly. Then she walked to Michael and Christopher’s room where they slept together on the bottom of a bunk bed.  She placed the muzzle of her .38-caliber revolver to Michael’s head and fired Coleman said. The shot woke Christopher who rose to see his mother pointing her gun at him.  She shot the youngest victim in the head but he didn’t die instantly, Coleman said. Instead he moved about the bed possibly trying to escape when she shot him again in the same wound.  Then in a final vengeful act before shooting herself in the head she turned over Joey -- whom his father called his best friend -- so he would be lying face-up when his father found him Coleman said.[Aron Miller, “Judge Affirms Verdict For Cora Caro: Death - Ventura County Woman Will Pay Ultimate Price For Killing 3 Sons,” Ventura County Star (Cal.), Apr. 6, 2002, p. 1]

Despite its five bedrooms and view of the Pacific, this sprawling hilltop home feels like a prison to Dr. Xavier Caro. It is here that his then-wife, Cora, lost in their loveless marriage, ended three young lives and shattered his. Now he’s trapped in the Santa Rosa Valley north of Thousand Oaks by pride and a court order.  After Cora was convicted of murdering three of their four sons and sentenced to death, the trial judge ruled that her share of the couple’s affluence should be used to pay for the two public defenders who represented her. Ventura County billed her $307,000. 

But Dr. Caro, a prominent Northridge rheumatologist, has fought the county, arguing that the woman he divorced forfeited her wealth when she destroyed their family.  And so he stays in his house - their house - to prevent the county from enforcing its lien against the property.  “There are no words,” Caro said recently over coffee in his kitchen. “There are no experiences that compare. Only a parent who has lost a child can empathize. To have that act triple is even more painful. [Brad A. Greenberg, “House Of Pain - Legal Battle Traps Man In Tragedy; Ventura County Wants Doctor To Pay Ex-Wife’s $410,000 Defense Costs,” Daily News of Los Angeles (CA) - April 9, 2006, p. N-1]

Bibliography: Aron Miller, “Xavier Caro describes finding his boys dead - Horror Scene: In second day, husband of accused mother testifies against her,” Ventura County Star (CA), Sep. 1, 2001, p. 1

1999 – Adams / Harmon – Diane Harmon (Mother-perpetrator, suicide), Brittany Adams (7, murdered); Jeff Adams (Father-”Left-Behind”); Edwin Harmon (M’s 2nd H); Acworth (area), Georgia

FULL TEXT: The father of an Acworth-area girl who was killed Tuesday by her mother in an apparent murder-suicide is baffled by their deaths. Though a suicide note indicated his ex-wife feared losing their daughter in a bitter custody battle, Jeff Adams said there was no custody battle.                      

Earlier this week, Diane Harmon sealed off the two-car garage inside her Parkwood subdivision home and turned on her car’s engine. She and her 7-year-old daughter, Brittany Adams, sat inside her car. Harmon’s current husband, Edwin Harmon, found the two dead Tuesday afternoon, poisoned by high levels of carbon monoxide.  

Police said in the suicide note Harmon said she felt no one would be able to care for Brittany the way she deserved. But Adams said he never sued for custody of his daughter and never intended to threaten Harmon’s maternal care. What he wanted, he said, was to be able to see his daughter on a regular basis.  

“Something seemed like it snapped recently,” Adams said.

Diane Harmon’s behavior had become erratic, he said. Two months ago she abruptly announced that Brittany could no longer visit Adams’ parents, he said, though she had promised that the child always would have contact with them.        

“She shut them out. It really hurt my dad,” Adams said.

Around that same time she also cut off Brittany’s phone calls to Adams.

“(Brittany) was just learning how to use the phone,” he said. “She liked to use the phone and she had all my numbers.”  

In 1995 the couple filed for divorce and Diane Harmon was awarded sole custody of Brittany, according to court records. A visitation settlement was reached and Adams was allowed to see his daughter on a regular basis for unsupervised visits.                       

But in 1997 Diane Harmon sued him for failure to pay child support and won the case. Adams’ visitation rights were temporarily revoked pending a new visitation agreement.          

Adams and his Marietta attorney, G.C. Payne III, maintain that Adams, a sales manager at a Buckhead car dealership, never missed a payment and was in fact ahead on payments.  

As part of her ‘97 child support suit, Diane Harmon also accused Adams of being an alcoholic and drinking in front of Brittany, charges Adams denies. Her court filings demanded that Adams submit to regular random drug and alcohol tests and attend monthly Alcoholics Anonymous meetings.

During negotiations for visitation rights, Adams submitted to a urinalysis and passed.                  
“They test me all the time where I work anyway,” he said. In April, a petition Adams filed for visitation rights was denied in a Cobb County court.     

Payne said he and Harmon’s attorney, Garvis L. Sams Jr., were only days away from new negotiations over visitation rights. Sams declined to be interviewed. The negotiations were intended to be made outside of a courtroom and there was no talk of changing custody rights, Payne said. Adams only wanted regular visits with his daughter again.           

“. . ., I could hardly see her, much less get custody,” Adams said. “I’d have to be crazy. That would be like throwing money down the drain trying to sue for custody.”

During the past year, Adams was allowed to visit Brittany a handful of times and even then it had to be a supervised visit, he said. Last month he saw her for the last time eating lunch at Diane Harmon’s parents’ house.

“She seemed to be fine,” he said. “I was worried that I could not see my daughter. I didn’t know what was going on with her.”

 Tuesday night, Diane Harmon’s father called to give Adams the news.

“I didn’t think it was real. Then I realized it was,” he said, speaking quietly.

“I can’t figure it out. I don’t think there is any possible way to figure out what happened.” [Julie Bryant, “Murder-suicide note about false situation - What custody battle? Cobb dad says he just wanted to visit daughter,” Atlanta Journal-Constitution (Ga.), Sep. 10, 1999, p. C-5]

Bibliography: Julie Bryant, “Custody Fight May Have Led To Deaths Distraught: Cobb Mom’s Suicide Note Cites Fear Of Losing Daughter,” Atlanta Journal-Constitution (Ga.), p. 5

2001 – “Hunter Valley, Australia Mother” – Unnamed Mother M (perp), s (5, survived), (7 mo, survived); Hunter Valley, Australia

Murder attempt = Nov. 25, 2001

2 separate fathers.

The woman [whose name was withheld from the public] gave the boys their Christmas presents before she put flammables such as a gas bottle, mower fuel, methylated spirits and lamp oil in the boys’ bedrooms. She packed a suitcase with suicide notes and left it outside, under the clothes line, with instructions for family members. Police allege it was left there to avoid getting burned when she set fire to the house. They claimed the woman had been furious after learning her former husband planned applying for full custody of his five-year-old son. It’s alleged she wrote a seven-page suicide note, three days before the poisonings, setting out plans to kill her sons and herself, taking the boys to “a better place’.” After administering the Panadol mixture to the children and taking her own concoction of pills, the woman called her de facto partner, the baby’s father, at around midnight to tell him what she had done. The woman then called her father who told her to induce vomiting in the boys and call an ambulance.

It’s alleged both boys registered large amounts of Panadol in their systems when treated at Newcastle’s John Hunter Hospital. The woman was arrested in December last year after the murder-suicide attempt. Since her arrest she has been receiving treatment at a Hunter Valley psychiatric unit. Throughout the five-minute court appearance she showed no emotion, as she addressed Judge Ralph Coolahan directly to enter her guilty plea. It’s believed she was accompanied in court by her parents.” [Natalie Williams, “Sons given cocktail of chocolate and Panadol,” Daily Telegraph (Sydney, Australia) – Sep. 24, 2002, p. 9]

2002 – “Sandstone Point Australia Mother” – Unnamed Mother (Mother-perpetrator), Unnamed Father (Father-”Left-Behind”); Sandstone, Point Australia

Murder = November 22, 2002. (bodies found); Sentenced to life

A woman who gassed her children to death in the family car as an act of revenge towards her ex-husband has been jailed for life. The 43-year-old woman, who cannot be identified, was found guilty after trial in the Supreme Court in Brisbane last week of murdering her six-year-old son and 10-year-old daughter at their home at Sandstone Point, near Bribie Island. The charge of murder carries an automatic life sentence in Queensland, which was handed down to the woman on Wednesday. She was also found guilty of the attempted murder of her 16-year-old son, for which she received a concurrent sentence of 15 years. During the trial the court was told the mother decided to kill herself and the children after being issued with a Family Court order stating they would spend Christmas Day with their dad. The mother gave the children crushed sleeping tablets before putting them in the back seat of the car, attaching a garden hose to the exhaust, and switching on the ignition. The bodies of the children, who had died from carbon monoxide poisoning, were found on November 22, 2002. [Christine Flatley, “Life sentence for mother who gassed two kids in her car,” Perth Now (West Australia, Australia), Feb. 24, 2010]

2002 – Polanco – Eulie Polanco (Mother-perpetrator) Dana (2, murdered), Octavio Polanco (Father-”Left-Behind”); Miramar, Florida

Murder = March 22, 2002; Insanity defense; sentenced to life in prison

“I hope this teaches you a good lesson for the rest of your life. ... It is your fault!”

In a fit of anger and hostility toward her then-estranged husband for leaving her and then winning visitation rights to their daughter, Polanco picked up Dana from the sitter, went home and tried to suffocate her with a pillow. When that didn’t work quickly, she tried to electrocute the child by placing her in a bathtub with a hair dryer. When the hair dryer blew a fuse, she drowned her, then tried to kill herself.
To get back at Octavio Polanco, she had to take the “one item in his life that could cause him the pain he’ll never be able to endure,” prosecutor Howard Scheinberg said. Scheinberg argued Polanco planned the crime, writing goodbye letters and e-mails to family and friends that included statements to Octavio Polanco such as, “I hope this teaches you a good lesson for the rest of your life. ... It is your fault!”  [Lisa J. Huriash, “Mom Sentenced To Life In Death Of Toddler, 2 - Judge Offers No Explanation For First-Degree Murder Finding,” Sun-Sentinel (Fl), Sep. 26, 2003, 3-B]

Miramar mother Eulie Polanco, 32, drowned her 2-year-old daughter in the bathtub after telling a co-worker she would let her estranged husband have visitation rights “over my dead body.” She will spend the rest of her life in prison after a judge found her guilty of first-degree murder and aggravated child abuse Thursday. [“Christy McKerney Mothers Who Kill Children Fit Into Varied Profiles; Two Broward Cases Put Spotlight On Troubled Women And Their Treatment In The Justice System,” Sun Sentinel (ft. Lauderdale, Fl.), Sep. 28, 2003

2005 – Giovanni – Lynn Giovanni (Mother-perpetrator), Nicole Giovanni (14, murdered), John Giovanni (Father-”Left-Behind”); Roselle Park, New Jersey

Feb. 7, 2005 = murder; Sentenced 30 years w/o parole

Pled guilty Oct. 2005; Sentenced Dec. 1, 2006, 30 years without parole, bipolar, other mental diseases, [Dec. 1, 2006, CBS News]

Self-published book on how to use protection orders against husbands/fathers: Judicial System Loopholes. While there is an apparent “suicide” attempt here, it seems perhaps more a “show” than a real attempt.

“A woman who bludgeoned her 14-year-old daughter to death with a hammer and shovel sat impassively in court Friday as her stepchildren and ex-husband called her evil and said she deserved to die instead of spending more than 25 years in prison.” [“Mom Sentenced For Hammering Daughter; ‘May You Burn In Hell,’ Father Tells Ex-Wife Who Killed 14-Year-Old Girl,” CBS News, Dec. 1, 2006]

“Friends said Lynn Giovanni had written a book, “Judicial System Loopholes,” last year that slammed the court’s treatment of domestic violence. Giovanni used the nom de plume “Faith Hope.” [Perry Chiarmonte & Leonard Greene, “Slain By Mom,” New York Post, February 8, 2005]

“Cohen’s [NJ Assemply-D] measure (A-2673) is entitled “Judy and Nikki’s Law,” in memory of Nikki Giovanni and Judy Cajuste, two young Roselle murder victims. The measure would toughen sentencing standards by making the murder of a minor age 16 or younger – regardless of motive – a crime punishable by mandatory life imprisonment without parole. Currently, mandatory life sentences are reserved only for murders convicted of killing a child age 14 or younger in a sexually related assault. The measure is currently awaiting a vote by the full Assembly.” [“Cohen: Lynn Giovanni’s Conviction ‘Justice At Last’: Mother of ‘Judy and Nikki’s Law’ namesake Nikki Giovanni pleads guilty to murdering her daughter,” Assembly Democrats News Release, October 3, 2006] 

Bibliography: Dan Burns, “Memorial park dedicated in honor of slain teenager,” LocalSource.com (Union, New Jersey), Nov. 2, 2005; Julia M. Scott & Amanda Gerut, “Police hold mother in Roselle Park slaying; Authorities say suspect confessed after trying to kill herself by crashing car into Route 78 guardrail,” Star-Ledger, The (Newark, NJ), Feb. 7, 2005, p. 13

2007 – Dangerfield / Hart – Emma Hart – (Mother-perpetrator-suicide), Shaun Dangerfield (Father-”Left-Behind”), Lewis Dangerfield (5, murdered); England

Dec. 9, 2007 = Murder (body found); taunt; Revenge; “spite”

Just remember, it’s all your fault.”: note left by Emma Hart

“A woman suspected of killing her son before killing herself left notes for his father asking if he really thought she would let him bring up their child. Twenty-seven-year-old Emma Hart’s body was found in Henley Close, Tipton, West Midlands on 9 December, 2007. Her son, Lewis Dangerfield, five, was later found dead in Walker Street, where he lived with his mother. Black Country Coroner Robin Balmain recorded Ms Hart killed herself and that Lewis was unlawfully killed. Ms Hart’s body was found at her mother’s flat. Black Country Coroner Robin Balmain heard Lewis’ father, Shaun Dangerfield, had split with Ms Hart and had a new partner. Mr Dangerfield told the inquest at the Council House in Smethwick that the last text he had received from her in the days before her death had said “I know what to do now for the best” and was signed with a kiss. He said he thought she meant it was an amicable response to a disagreement they had had over custody arrangements.

The inquest also heard that in notes she had left she told him: “Did you really think I was going to die and allow you to bring up our son... and play happy families?” She said Mr Dangerfield would now hurt for the rest of his life as he had made hers hell. She wrote: “You can enjoy your life now as you have nothing to stop you, ha ha.” She also wrote: “Just remember, it’s all your fault.” The inquest heard Ms Hart was found with a cut across her wrist and drugs, including morphine, in her system. Lewis also had high levels of a painkiller in his system. It was possible Ms Hart died because of the blood loss from her wrist although the levels of painkiller in her body were high enough to be fatal, the inquest was told. Mr Balmain said it was “simply spite” that motivated her actions and added it was the most distressing case he had dealt with in 25 years of service.

“I cannot imagine anything so evil as a mother who would be prepared to kill her son to spite Mr Dangerfield,” he said. Referring to a severely critical note she had left for Mr Dangerfield, Mr Balmain said there was nothing to support her words. “It seems to me he had done everything he possibly could to fulfil his obligations towards his little boy.” After the inquest, in a statement read out by a police officer, Shaun Dangerfield said he had lost the largest part of his life. “Take five minutes to sit back and appreciate what you have and imagine what it would be like to have all that taken away from you,” he said. Ms Hart’s family also attended the inquest and told the coroner she had “idolised” Lewis.” [“Mother left notes before deaths,” Jul. 31, 2008, BBC]

2009 – Stott-Smith / Smith – Jo Stott-Smith (Mother-perpetrator), Jason Smith (Father-”Left-Behind”), d name withheld (7, rescued), Eldon Jay Rebhan Smith (4, murdered); Oregon

May 30, 2009; drowning; Under the agreement Stott-Smith will get life in prison with the possibility of parole after 35 years

“…At the same hour in a Washington County courtroom, a judge ruled that the couple’s daughter be placed in state custody. Stott-Smith, 31, was arrested at 10:25 a.m. Saturday [May 30] in a Portland parking garage. She’s accused of pushing or throwing her two children over the Sellwood Bridge, sending them about 75 feet into the dark and cold Willamette River about 1:20 that morning. 

Jo Stott-Smith appears at her arraignment: Sometime early Saturday, Jason Smith had called Tualatin police after having had a phone conversation with his estranged wife. He was concerned about the children and their mother based on that phone call, Tualatin Police Capt. Brad King said.King declined to say the time Jason Smith called Tualatin police, other than saying, “Everything was happening about the same time.” [Maxine Bernstein, Noelle Crombie and Eric Mortenson, “Nasty custody fight preceded Sellwood Bridge tragedy; Mom arraigned on aggravated murder charge,” Oregonian (Portland), May 26, 2009]

2009 – Williams – Judith Elizabeth Williams (Mother-perpetrator, suicide), Adam Williams (16, murdered), Jim Williams (Father-”Left-Behind”); Walnut Creek, California

Murder = Jul. 17, 2009; Divorce filed in 1996

“The Walnut Creek woman who killed her teenage son on Mount Diablo before shooting herself was angry that the boy was spending more time with her ex-husband, her brother told The Chronicle after reading her suicide note. Judith Elizabeth Williams, 51, decided to kill her 16-year-old son, Adam Williams, in part because her ex-husband had recently moved back to California from Missouri and was spending every other weekend with their son, her brother said. On Friday, father and son were to have left on a trip to Southern California. “She didn’t want Adam to go to his dad,” Williams’ brother, Bill Collins, 55, of Palo Cedro (Shasta County) said Friday. “That was obvious.” [Henry K. Lee, “Murder-Suicide Mom Wanted To Keep Boy From Dad,” San Francisco Chronicle (Ca.), Jul. 25, 2009]

2010 – Pritiviraj / Silvia – Devi Silvia (Mother-perpetrator),  (d, 19 mo), Dominic James Prithiviraj (Father-”Left-Behind”); New York, New York

Murder attempt = May 14, 2010

Revenge motive; “She made clear that she threw her baby in to the freezing river in order to get back at her husband.” [New York Post, May 15, 2010, see full text below]

She wanted to get back at her husband.  Devi Silvia, the mother who threw her 19-month-old daughter into the Hudson River and then jumped in behind her in a murder-suicide attempt told cops that she was bent on revenge against her spouse, Manhattan prosecutors said yesterday. “She said she was sad and lonely and angry at her husband and that she did this horrific act on purpose,” Assistant District Attorney Robert Hettleman said in arguing, successfully, that the mother be held without bail. “She made clear that she threw her baby in to the freezing river in order to get back at her husband.” [Laura Italiano, “Ma’s River ‘Revenge’ - Tossed Baby Out Of Spite For Hubby: DA,” New York Post (N.Y.), May 15, 2010]

She threw their 19-month-old baby in the Hudson last month, just to get back at her husband -- but now he wants her back. Devi Silvia -- a 33-year-old Indian national and mother of two -- asked a Manhattan judge yesterday to set her free, into her husband’s care, while she awaits a plea or trial on attempted-murder charges. Her husband sat in the courtroom audience, teary-eyed throughout the brief hearing. He left without commenting. Judge Lewis Stone seemed amenable to setting Silvia free, telling the parties he thought Rikers Island seemed “the least appropriate situation there is,” so long as she can get outpatient treatment for her newly diagnosed bipolar disorder. [Laura Italiano, “Baby-toss ma in bid to go free,” New York Post (N.Y.), Jun. 22, 2010]

2010 – Riggi – Theresa Riggi (Mother-perpetrator), Augustino “Austin” (8, murdered), Gianluca “Luke” (8, murdered), Cecilia (5, murdered), Pasquale Riggi (Father-”Left-Behind”); Edinburgh, Scotland

Murder attempt = Aug. 2-4, 2010

‘She stated that she had a second chance and God had saved her in order to make her husband pay for what he did.’

A mother who killed her three children following a custody battle was so paranoid that she made them wear locator tags when they were with their father. Theresa Riggi did everything she could to stop Cecilia, five, and twins Augustino and Gianluca, eight, having contact with her estranged husband Pasquale. She even gave them a phone so they could call her if the oil engineer said anything they did not like.  The 47-year-old became obsessed with the idea he wanted to take the children away, a court heard yesterday.

When he confirmed he wanted full access, she ended the telephone call with the words: ‘Say goodbye then.’ She used three separate knives to kill the children, stabbing each eight times. Church music was playing in the background when their bodies were discovered. All three were laid out in bloodied clothing on the bedroom floor before Riggi tried to kill herself by jumping headfirst off a second-floor balcony at their Edinburgh home. In custody in hospital, Riggi told a chaplain: ‘I’m not meant to be here.’ She said she had to protect the children and get away from ‘the evil’. When staff accused her of stealing a knife Riggi returned it, telling them: ‘I just want to be with my babies.’ Advocate depute Alex Prentice QC told the High Court in Edinburgh: ‘She stated that she had a second chance and God had saved her in order to make her husband pay for what he did.’ [Michael Seamark, “Paranoid killer mother fitted her three children with electronic tags,” Daily Mail (London, England), Mar. 2011]

Sometime between August 2 and 4, 2010, in Edinburgh Scotland, Theresa Riggi murdered her three children, twin 8-year-old brothers Augustino and Gianluca and five-year old Cecilia (5, murdered), stabbing each of them eight times, using a separate knife for each. She had attempting to limit their contact with their father, Pasquale Riggi. When she learned that he expected “full access” she told him to "Say goodbye then." He never saw them alive again. [See online: Michael Seamark, “Paranoid killer mother fitted her three children with electronic tags,” Daily Mail (London, England), Mar. 2011]

Nov. 2015 – Samira Lupidi, 24 – Mint Street, Bradford, West Yorkshire, England – Carl Weaver, 31, father – Evelyn Lupidi, 3 (stabbed 9 times); Jasmine Weaver, 17 mo.  (stabbed 9 times); Murder = Nov. 17, 2017









[4049-8/27/18; 5059-11/23/21]


  1. Ania Wilczynski, Faculty of Law, University of Sydney, Child Killing By Parents: A Motivational Model. Child Abuse Review Vol. 4 : 365-370 (1995)

  2. Veronica Youngblood, 37, admitted to sedating and killing Sharon Castro, 15, and Brooklynn Youngblood, 5, on Aug. 5, 2018, but pleaded not guilty on grounds of insanity. [James Reynolds, “Mother, 37, murdered her two daughters, 15, and 5, after giving them sleeping gummies then shooting them as they slept in twisted bid to get revenge on her ex-husband who planned to move away with their youngest,” Daily Mail, 27 March 2023]