Murdering Mums

After encountering the “Kid found buried in playground,” headline last week about the death of a toddler I have been plagued by thoughts of similar stories like the all too recent Caylee Anthony case. Cases like these always linger in my mind, much like the Andrea Yates case where the Texas mother had drown her five kids in [the bathtub, correction made possible by contributing readers.] Just in case it was not recent enough for you to remember, Andrea received a verdict of not guilty due to insanity.

While it appears that Casey Anthony will receive a guilty verdict for the murder of her child, there is no telling what the sentence will be. It seems she may be subject to a heavier sentence since so much was done to conceal the body etc, but at what point to juries stop saying “This is so horrific a mother could never do this unless she was insane,” and consider the possibility that maybe, just maybe a sick demented horrible immoral woman gave birth to the child.

I can understand how horrified we all are when reading these headlines; maybe we all tend to lean towards insanity. Most of them certainly are unthinkable. If these crimes were committed by the fathers, would they be shown the same sort of leniency, or would they be demonized. My guess is on the later, as society tends to paint fathers as authoritarians and mothers as the doting idolizing coddling care givers.

For the most part insanity pleas frighten me because I think there are a lot of individuals who manipulate the system, the doctors, the judges, the juries, into buying into their insanity plea. As far as I am concerned, these bloody crimes against children are just not being addressed.

Every year hundreds, upon hundreds of kids go missing never to be found again. It’s disturbing to me that so many kids are not in safe households. It’s not just the parents, or bad mothers by any means. Look at Casey Anthony’s parents—they were well aware of what was going on. I even read in the New Mexico case that the mother’s parents supposedly kicked her out because she was not attentive and loving to her son. Is that possible? Would grandparents just remove the issue from their sight, clearly seeing a detachment with the mother—would there not be some sort of anxiety or fear that the child would not be properly cared for? I think perhaps the media took some liberties with that—but who knows.

To be honest—I am not sure where I was going with this. I know that I am greatly disturbed and very angry. I do have a few questions I want to throw out to you all.

1) If you were a parent—and your child committed a crime, would you turn them in to accept responsibility for that crime?

2) Do you think that sympathetic juries are letting mothers get away with murder?

3) What do you think should happen to parents who commit these crimes?

4) When insanity can be proven beyond reasonable doubt, what do you think penalties should be?


eelliso1 is a contributing writer for Get instant updates for this blog via Twitter: PGTblog.



Filed under philosophy, Politics

13 responses to “Murdering Mums


    Very interesting questions but I’m not able to answer any of them with a yes or no. Not every case is the same. Depending on the circumstances I could see myself sometimes answering yes and in other cases, no. Sorry to be wishy-washy.

    1) I don’t know. I honestly can’t imagine what I would do. The only thing I know for SURE is that I would never implicate an innocent person in order to protect my child. Never, ever.

    2) I haven’t really followed many cases but I think the possibility of judges going soft on mothers could be a real concern.

    3) It would depend on the case and on their own personalities but if guilty would have to be punished strongly with either DP or life w/o parole.

    4) Again it would depend on the case and to what degree of insanity the murderer was.

  2. topcat08

    First of all I would like to say that Susan Smith drown her two small kids in the family car and Andrea Yates drown her 5 kids in the family bath tub. I also think you are right, that a father in the same situation would have already been convicted and be on death row. As for your questions: (1)Yes I would turn them in to take responsibility for their actions.(2) Yes I do think that some juries are letting mothers get away with murder, and so are doctors. Doctors have came up with several different excuses why they kill their children, like Postpartum Depression, PMS and a few others. Has it ever crossed their mind that these women may just be EVIL? (3)(4) I think partents who kill their children should be put to death and if they are found crazy…………life in a mental institution without a possibility for release. But this is just my opinion!!!!

    • eelliso1

      Thank you for correcting the Andrea Yates/Susan Smith, information–hard time with names, I will make sure to double and triple check them in the future! Very good points I might add.

  3. Susan Smith drowned her 2 sons in their car by pushing them into a lake. She had a wealthy boyfriend who was not interested in being involved with the boys. I doubt if he would have married her anyway. It seems that sex was the motivation for the relationship.

    Andrea Yates drowned her 5 children in the bath tub in her home. She had been very mentally ill for a long time and her medical supervision was inadequate. So was the supervision of her husband who kept her pregnant, part of the time living in an old school bus, and home schooling all of the children. Her psychiatrist had explicitly explained that part of her mental illness was due to repeated pregnancies and cautioned her husband in that regard. He wanted more children and it seems that he always got what he wanted.

    Andrea Yates was found guilty after her first trial mostly based on the evidence given by an expert psychiatric witness, Dr. Park Deats. He testified that there had been an episode of Law and Order based on a similar story of drowned children and insanity. He was incorrect and there had never been such an episode. Mrs. Yates had a second trial and was found not guilty by reason of insanity. She will most likely never be on the streets again. I have read that she continues to be seriously ill and the likelihood of her recovery is slim.

    From what I read it is very difficult to find a person guilty due to insanity. Being crazy does not necessarily preclude knowing the difference between right and wrong and that is the key to an insanity verdict in most states, perhaps all.

    I agree completely that there seems to be a significant increase in the deaths of children. It is hard to understand what can convince a person to kill their child. Some of the deaths are done in rage and temper. Others are done by truly evil people. One can almost wish for the need for a license to have a child after extensive physical and psychological evaluation. And I guess that some closet monsters would still fall through the cracks and kill their little ones.

    There also seems to be a plethera of wife murders recently. Why bother to pay the price of a divorce when you can eliminate the woman for free with a gun, knife, or your hands.

    I doubt that any of these questions can be answered. Maybe we are just living in an increasingly violent society. And that is the scariest idea of all. In many areas gangs rule, the drug culture is rampant, the prisons are filled to over flowing, and life is not worth 5 cents to many people. I guess those of us who can make it from cradle to grave without being the victim of violent crime are just lucky. In my opinion that is an appalling testament to our society.

  4. One more thing – about the little boy burried in the playground. What a horrible woman. Words fail me. She killed him once, performed CPR, and then killed him again. And to top that off with something almost as evil, she burried him in a shallow grave near the equipment in the playground so there was the high likelihood of a child finding the body and being destroyed forever. She is the epitome of a monster. Please lock her away in a 2×4 cell for the rest of her miserable life. How could any attorney possibly defend that behavior.

  5. jakefunc

    1. Turning in my child would depend upon the severity of the crime. The juvenile court system is EXTREMELY lenient when it comes to sentencing, and as opposed to the adult court system, more focused on rehabilitating the offender and preventing further bad behavior. Also, the charges all come off of their record as soon as they turn 18. Sooo, for anything short of murder, I’m turning their ass in.

    If they commit murder, they better have a damn good reason, otherwise you have just as much responsibility to turn them in for the well-being and security of yourself and others. Something isn’t quite connecting right inside their head. Sure, you love them, but they’re a killer; not quite the innocent they were before.

    2. No. Anyone who pleads ‘insanity’ isn’t going to find their way outside a mental institution in the near future. I don’t even think someone who was sane could kill their own children in the first place. Actually, anyone willing to kill another human being deserves to be institutionalized; they’re breaking the most standard rule of the unspoken social contract.

    3? Throw them in the mental institution. Lock them behind cold steel bars. Unlike drug dealers, these people are incapable of reform because they are mentally ill to a fatal point. Is it their fault? No, but we cannot reverse the wear of time and their environments on their minds.

    I don’t think these people are ‘evil’. I can assure you that they had good intentions while doing whatever they did, no matter how awful the deed.

  6. Po

    I totally stopped watching the news since the ‘Octomom’ so I really dont’ have anything to add… but all this news of dead baby is making me sad. Thanks for ruining my evening : (

  7. michellefrommadison

    I have to tell you that I was a little shaken up when I read the title of your post called “Murdering Mums”, I thought perhaps that Nancy Grace of CNN had murdered her twins. I know the experts have stated that they expect the twins to run away from home as soon as they can reach the doorknobs, and that Nancy Grace has admitted to abusing her tot-son by throwing him off the bed and onto the floor where he landed upon his head that required hospital intervention, I am just glad to see she hasn’t yet harmed her kids again, but tomorrow is another day. Lets all hope for the best for them. :)

  8. Sophie

    If I knew my kid has murdered someone, I would report it.

    ESPECIALLY if the someone murdered was my precious grandchild.

    The Anthony’s seem to have forgotten justice for Caylee, perhaps because they have a replacement on the way. And God help THAT baby. Another CMA on the way. They’ll probably name it after Casey. (can you imagine going through life with that name in that family?) Good Lord I hope it’s a boy.

    They haven’t visited Casey because they likely believe she did it. If they really believed in her innocence, nothing would keep them from seeing her. They don’t have to say ANYTHING other than that they love her. That’s NOT incriminating.

    They aren’t so much worried about Casey’s defense as their own reputation as the people who created a murderer.

    These folks are only worried about themselves. And the more they try to make themselves look good, the more damage they do.

    There ARE women who are evil and would murder their child. And Casey APPEARS to be one of them. I am not forgetting that she is innocent until proven guilty.

    When the trial is through, I feel that she will be joining the ranks of her sisters in prison who also murdered their children.

  9. michellefrommadison

    Many people like Sophie who do not fully understand the facts of the case feel the same way, it will be a differebt story come trial. But, good luck on that Sophie.

  10. redpillneo

    Umm…I’m not really a “moderator,” per se, but I think its only fair to explain in what way someone has misconstrued the facts before condescending to them.

    That being said, I don’t necessarily think this person is “evil” – while I am not initimately acquainted with the story, many details suggest to me that she may be coming from more neutral territory. CA’s alleged resuscitation of her son suggests to me that she may have been seriously attempting some sort of mercy killing, as an overtly evil person would have buried the corpse and peaced quickly out. “Benevolent but depraved,” in this case, would be more appropriate than outright “evil.”

    This does not change my aversion to what she did – I only mean to encourage us as a society to understand criminals more on their motivations and character, and less on our gut reactions to the heinousness of their misdeeds. Both of these factors are very questionable in the case at hand.

  11. eelliso1

    I just wanted to share a few of my thoughts and opinions that have developed since posting the “Murdering Mums,” blog on Tuesday. First and foremost, thank you for all of the feedback. For myself this was a touchy subject, and I believe that I evaluated too much of it from an emotional stand point. So I would like to take a moment to clear up a few things.

    Essentially, while it may have appeared that I was declaring the individuals in these cases to be “evil,” my primary point was not to illustrate an innate quality of good or bad, white or dark, yin and yang. Rather, I wanted to make the connection for some while that these crimes are unfathomable to many of us, some of those who commit them are reacting out of anger, hate, frustration—to give a motive, (much like shaken baby occurrences.) Not all parents who kill their children are performing so called “mercy” killings.

    Which brings me to another point—mercy killings in the United States of America—where opportunities abound, are complete and total bullshit. Now I am sure that the intellectual philosophers among us will site various situations where it could be acceptable, which is why I will say right now, this is personal opinion, mine. I am thinking primarily of the little blurb I read about the recent New Mexico case. Witnesses claim that the mother stated she killed the child because she did not want him to grow up unloved like her. Here is a novel idea—love him yourself? You are his mother.

    My primary concerns with these cases are what I have previously mentioned. I am concerned by the growing number of these cases. I am concerned by what jurors, doctors, and lawyers consider consequences of postpartum depression etc. I truly do believe that there is a double standard when it comes to the father or the mother committing these crimes.

    Well to wrap this up I figured I would answer the questions I posed on Tuesday.

    1) If you were a parent—and your child committed a crime, would you turn them in to accept responsibility for that crime?

    Yes—unless it’s something trivial…smoking marijuana or under age drinking. Obviously if my teen comes in drunk I’m not going to go “Let us take a ride down to the station.”

    2) Do you think that sympathetic juries are letting mothers get away with murder?

    I think that, perhaps they are sympathetic to an extent that may cloud their judgment—simply because the idea of a parent killing their own child is so disturbing, (to most people.)

    3) What do you think should happen to parents who commit these crimes?

    Again, as others mentioned this depends on the situation—I teeter back and forth with the death penalty for cold blooded murders anyways, sometimes I think they should make them work to pay their debt to society. At any rate I really cannot say. I know that I believe Ms. Anthony—having tampered with evidence etc. seems fairly sane, so I say throw the book at her.

    4) When insanity can be proven beyond reasonable doubt, what do you think penalties should be?

    Life imprisonment without parole in a mental institution, again this is in any case where an insane person is deemed dangerous to themselves or others.

    Thank you all for your input, it helps to have others discuss and ponder these things in order to bring logic back into situations that invoke so much emotion.

  12. merkaba33

    I’m going to answer your questions, because I think they get to the heart of some truly ethical questions.

    However, I’d like to echo Po’s comment that I haven’t heard of any of this. I carefully filter my news via searches. I read about business, technology, economonic, and political news. I don’t subject myself to the details of murders, rapes, and the like. I know they happen. I know it’s terrible. That’s about all I need to know. But I read your post anyway, and I’m glad I did. You brought up some great questions.

    1) Depends on the crime. Did they use an illicit substance? Did they kill someone? I would not turn them in for the former, but I would for the latter.

    2) Do you think that sympathetic juries are letting mothers get away with murder? Hmmm. What do you mean by “get away with.” If a woman is removed from society, locked in a mental institution for life, has she gotten away with murder? Are we attempting to protect society from further damage, or punish the guilty? What is our real aim with our justice system?

    3) What do you think should happen to parents who commit these crimes? They need to be removed from society and kept in a facility (mental institution or prison) where they can be kept from harming anyone else.

    4) When insanity can be proven beyond reasonable doubt, what do you think penalties should be? Being locked in a mental institution, permanently. These places are no club med. It’s not a retirement facility. They’re not playing golf. It’s basically a prison that comes with better medical care for the stability of the mentally unstable.

    I think one unasked question is this: what do these crimes say about all of us? What is it about our society, our culture, our communities that allows these things to happen?

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