the answer lies between the
madness and the psychotropic drugs


Parents Killing Their Children
Crime/Punishment Blog

October 29, 2004

This week's news headlines contained a rash of articles about parents killing their children, including those who beat their infants to death to a woman accused of giving her 17-month-old an overdose of methadone. Here is an example of this week's headlines involving the deaths of children:

Man Gets 40 Years In Infant Son's Death
A Henrietta man pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 40 years for inflicting injuries that led to the death of his infant son in 2002, officials said. Andy Reed Canada, 28, of Henrietta pleaded guilty and was sentenced to two 20-year sentences to run consecutively for killing his son, Clyde Bondurant, 3 months old.

Teen Mom, 17, Charged As Adult In Death of Infant Son
A senior at Patuxent High School is being charged as an adult with first-degree child abuse and second-degree murder in the death of her three-month-old son. According to charging documents, 17-year-old Samantha Staycoff of Lusby told investigators last week she stuffed a pair of socks into the baby's mouth because she was tired and he wouldn't stop crying.

Infant Dies From Methadone Overdose
A Louisville, Kentucky woman has entered an Alford plea to the accusation that she gave her 17-month-old son a fatal dose of methadone in July 2002. Shawn Rene Martin entered the plea to charges of reckless homicide, tampering with physical evidence and being a persistent felony offender.

Mother Gets 15 Years, Likely Deportation
Hanaa Mourkus told a judge that she left Egypt for the United States in 2002 to give her children a better life. Mourkus will spend 15 years in prison and face expulsion from her adopted country because she gave one of her children death instead.

Man charged in Beating Death of Infant Daughter
A Lindenwold man who is on parole for assaulting his infant son in 1998, now faces murder charges in the beating death of his 11-month-old daughter, authorities said. David Walden, 28, is accused of striking his baby, Kira Walden, multiple times on the abdomen and head while his girlfriend worked as a waitress.


                               June 28, 2001


                A personal view by Jeremy Reynalds
                Special Correspondent for ASSIST News Service

                Albuquerque, NM (ANS) -- Some of the coverage in a national news magazine of
                last week's tragic shooting in Houston of five children by their mother was
                couched in distinctly spiritual terms.

                Trying to describe what motivated the 36-year-old Andrea Yates to murder her
                children, Newsweek Magazine said she must have been "possessed by a demonic
                energy," as she "methodically" killed her children, "laying them out on the
                bed wrapped in sheets like little Christian martyrs."

                Moving on to the problem in general of mothers killing their children,
                Newsweek commented, "About 200 children are killed by their mothers every
                year, according to Justice statistics. Sometimes moms blame the devil. Or
                they think they are saving their children from a hellish life by sending them
                to heaven."

                Newsweek wasn't the only publication trying to find answers for its readers.
                In a copyrighted article in the Houston Chronicle, Houston psychiatrist Dr.
                Jay Tarnow said, "With psychosis, people are paranoid, they're out of touch
                with reality, they hear voices -- they may even hear God telling them to do

                Tarnow added, "Didn't God tell Abraham to tie up his son, Isaac, to slay him
                as a sacrifice? ...  Then God said, 'OK, get the ram instead.' I'm not saying
                Abraham was psychotic. But I am saying that if people are God-fearing and
                think they hear God telling them to do something -- sometimes they will do

                Whatever the twisted motivation behind Yates' killing of her children, she's
                now looking at a capital murder charge that could possibly mean the death
                penalty. A new twist on the bizarre case occurred earlier this week when a
                Houston television station citing unnamed sources reported that Yates was
                pregnant. Not surprisingly, the report was denied by Yates' attorneys, who
                said they were on top of the case and were not even aware of a pregnancy test
                being taken.

                But while the pundits pontificate and the news magazines ruminate about what
                finally drove Yates over the edge, what are other Americans saying? I thought
                I'd go to an America on Line bulletin board to take a look. I found 674
                messages. Here's the first post I ran across.  It read (sic),"My 7 year old
                response was he was going to bed last night and said...Mom, Should I kiss you
                goodnight. I said YES Aaron. Why would you say that... He said are you going
                to KILL me or DROWN ME like that mom did!!!!!  Its sick and she deserves to
                be punished the way the kids were!!!"

                Commenting on the statement that Yates is alleged to suffer from post partum
                depression, another response on the same bulletin board read, (sic) "Thanks
                to today's society and out of control legal system, it seems to be excusable
                to commit the unheard of, and with enough research, you can find a reason to
                justify it, packaged in a nice little box of a medical name/condition/disease
                ... two of my sister's suffered from what is called PPD, but they didn't kill
                their kids, they were a little moody and got over it."

                That's the issue, isn't it?  Yates didn't HAVE to kill those children but she
                did anyway. As someone wrote on the same AOL bulletin board, "Postpartum or
                not (she) admitted to doing it. She knows what she has done, it is not like
                she woke up from a trance and has no idea. She deserves the death
                penalty...she was coherent enough to call the police, she deserves to die."

                And dangers associated with the insanity defense are striking some chords
                with the folk in Bangor, Maine. They think back to 1954, when the then
                24-year-old Constance Fisher drowned three of her children in the bathtub --
                Richard, 6, Daniel, 4, and Deborah, 1. Fisher was found not guilty by reason
                of insanity and spent five years at a mental institution, during which time
                according to media reports her husband Carl Fisher petitioned vociferously
                for her release.

                Then tragedy struck again.  According to the Bangor Daily News, "In 1966, for
                the second time in his life, Carl Fisher, then 33, returned home from his job
                at Maine Central Railroad to find that his wife had once again killed all of
                their children. The children were the same ages as their first three --
                Kathleen, 6, Michael, 4, and Nathalie, 9 months. All had been drowned in the

                There was yet still more tragedy to come. Again according to the Bangor Daily
                News, "Fisher remained at Augusta Mental Health Institute until October 1973,
                when at the age of 44 she walked away from the hospital. Officials were
                concerned she was suicidal. Her body was found five days later. She had
                drowned in the Kennebec River."

                We live in a culture where many people play the so-called "blame game," a
                tragic activity where nobody ever wants to accept the consequences for their
                actions. Kill your babies, get a lawyer, and blame the action on postpartum
                depression so bad that it made you insane. Get in your car drunk and run over
                a family out for an evening stroll and blame it on mental illness. End up
                homeless by refusing to work and blame your predicament on your experience in
                Vietnam, an angry mother, an abusive father or poor potty training.

                So what IS the answer? Well, we could start by calling a halt to the "blame
                game." I don't think anyone would question that both Andrea Yates and
                Constance Fisher were troubled. But so troubled that they had to murder their
                children? Did anyone MAKE them commit those heinous acts? I say no, and with
                that in mind our justice system needs to take corresponding action. Such
                steps will result in Andrea Yates facing her maker SOONER rather than LATER!

                Jeremy Reynalds is a freelance writer and the founder and director of Joy
                Junction, New Mexico's largest emergency homeless shelter.
                ( He has a master's degree in communication from the
                University of New Mexico and is pursuing his PhD in intercultural education
                at Biola University in Los Angeles. He is married with five children and
                lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico. He may be contacted by e-mail at

This article comes from...ASSIST NEWS SERVICE

Good News and Bad News
The following is quoted from Breaking the News by Anton Holland:

"Most of us have the tendency to fall into the trap of hiding bad news. Maybe it's because most people are optimists. Many people postpone the revelation of bad news because they feel that the longer they put it off, the more chance they'll have of solving the problem and therefore making the bad news irrelevant. What usually happens under these circumstances is that a person realizes that the problem that they are immersed in will only be solved by nothing short of divine intervention, and that they must finally confront the decaying situation.





by Benford E. Standley

Read I Ran West for more on the Saga that Benford Standley

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