I attended the vigil in honor of Amara, Sophie and Cea at Glen Park on Wednesday evening and it was extremely well attended. The one thing that has stayed with me from that event is when a member of the sister’s church said to the crowd, “To all the children here. Each of your grief is unique. Just because you might not have known the girls, your grief is still valid and special.” She was talking to the children, but I think it resonated with many of the people there.
When tragedies like this occur, you start looking at your life and the world around you. You have many questions and wonder how someone could do this to their own children. No one can give an exact answer on why these things happen, but a research presentation titled “Men Who Murder Their Families: What the Research Tells Us” might help us understand a little bit more. The link to the presentation is: http://nij.ncjrs.gov/multimedia/video-men-who-murder.htm#tab2. It is 90 minutes in length, so I thought I would share two quotes that I felt were very important.
Dr. David Adams states “I found that there were five types of killers. The most common type was a possessively jealous type of killer, and I found that many of the men who also commit murder-suicide, as well as those who kill their children, also seem to fit that profile as well. And I agree with Jackie; I think that — what I found was the despondency was more of a secondary issue in many of those cases and that even when you look at unemployment, many of them were actually unemployed because they had quit their jobs or had been fired from their jobs in order to have time to stalk their victims. And so post-separation, post-estrangement, many of them had increased their level of surveillance, increased their level of stalking, and basically were taking so much time to stalk their victims that they were either fired from their jobs or they’d quit their jobs. One of them, unbeknownst to his wife, two weeks prior to killing her, had quit his job, but then would drive away from the home as if he was going to work, but then just sort of parked down the street in order to surveillance her every day. And so I found that, you know — obviously what we’re talking about now, Richard will talk next — that there’s a lot of different factors that are involved in these kinds of cases, and revenge is really just one of them. But I’ve found that it’s really kind of hard to separate revenge from despondency because I think that very often, when you have somebody who’s really intent on controlling their partner, that victims usually become more resistant over time, which in turn makes them more despondent over time, too. And so there’s kind of a — real kind of reciprocal influence, I think, between those two things — revenge, control, and despondency — in a lot of those cases.”
Dr. Richard Gelles states “Biological dads who kill their children are a real rarity. Child homicide is — 50 percent of it is kids under three years of age, almost most of them killed by moms or paramours. As the children get older, that’s the only place where biological dads become offenders, and it’s almost always over a meshed control-custody dispute, and it’s a different variation of what Jackie talked about — “If I can’t have you, no one can. If I can’t have then, you can’t.” Now some of those homicides are deliberate, and some of them are accidental. The numbers aren’t huge, but if you’re looking at deaths of older children at the hands of parents and if it’s a biological parent, it is pretty much gonna be a dad, and it is pretty much gonna be the consequence of a very ugly, controlling, nobody-can-win custody fight.”
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Turningpoint gratefully acknowledges the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, National Institute of Justice, for allowing us to reproduce, in part or in whole, the video “Men Who Murder Their Families: What the Research Tells Us.” The opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this video are those of the speaker(s) and do not necessarily represent the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.