Familicide is defined as one family member who murders other members of their family, commonly taking the lives of all. It is most often used to describe cases where a parent, usually the father, kills his wife and children and then himself. These cases are horrifying acts which can wipe out an entire family, leaving relatives, friends, and colleagues stunned and confused.
Often no outward signs were visible to suggest anyone was in danger or that there was a risk of an individual taking such horrific actions. It is a crime that has invoked horror and fascination in equal measures. For those with an interest in why such horrific crimes take place and how an individual can murder their own family, such cases are explored in detail. Most researchers agree that this act is a form of mass murder due to the multiple victims involved. In a collaborative project between Crime Traveller and Morbid Minds Productionsthis feature article has been turned into a full-length documentary.
The talented duo at Morbid Minds have used their skills in video and audio to transform these case studies and research findings into a visual depiction that is a must watch. Chillingly in the UK, statistics suggest that a child is more likely to be killed by a parent than by a stranger and in most cases, the killer takes his own life after the act.
There is no court case, no opportunity to find out why and whether or not this was a premeditated planned murder or an act which was spontaneous due to thoughts at that very moment. Those left behind can only speculate on what may have caused someone they loved to kill their family, and most often, take the lives of innocent children. Criminologists have been conducting increasing research into the phenomenon of familicide and in the process have produced many terms and definitions to describe such acts and distinguish them from each other.
They analyzed newspaper articles over three decades from to where cases of familicide were reported. Most offenders were employed and aged between 30 and 39 years old at the time of the murders. In contrast to other groups, such as serial killers and mass murderers, these were found to be individuals with good backgrounds.
They were not known to the police or the criminal justice system; they often had good jobs, families, and friends around them. They can be very successful people in their lives and not the kind of person who it is perceived would kill anyone never mind their entire family. These findings echo the conclusions drawn from a study by Leveillee and colleagues who examined 16 cases of familicide in Quebec between and They found that social loss, economic reasons, mental illness, and intimate partner loss were the most common likely causes of murder-suicide within a family.
Two more recent literature reviews carried out into familicide also provide some key points when focusing on the profile of a family annihilator. Psychologist Sharon Mailloux found offenders to be predominantly male and in a long term relationship with possessive tendencies over his family, in her literature review published in in the Journal of Family Violence. Employment issues, problems with substance misuse and a history of domestic violence also featured across the cases she studied.
Divorce or separation was found to be a trigger point. They found familicide offenders were mostly highly educated men with psychological problems, depression, self-destructiveness and substance abuse issues. Past violent behavior and unsteady social relationships were also prevalent.
The case of Bruce Blackmana year-old man in British Columbia is a tragic example of how mental illness can be involved in cases of familicide. In the weeks leading up to the killings, his room-mate reportedly noticed strange behavior from Blackman where he claimed to be getting messages from the Bible and believed the world was going to end. Once there he shot both his parents and his younger brother with a. He called his elder sisters, who no longer lived in the family home, and fatally shot them and his brother-in-law when they arrived.
Found walking near the crime scene he was arrested and charged with murder. Bruce Blackman was found not guilty by reason of insanity and sent to a psychiatric unit for treatment. Released from the hospital inhe now has a new identity, however, must forever live with the fact that he murdered his family in Researchers have focused on any link between borderline personality disorder and familicide and while some evidence was found that could conclude a causal link, in such a rare crime it is difficult to draw any solid conclusions as to the role of such mental disorders within this crime.
John List was a father of three in in New Jersey who shot and killed his wife, all three children, and his mother before fleeing and building himself a new life. A year-old accountant, John List struggled to maintain his employment and pay his mortgage and had been stealing money from his elderly mother.F amilicide is defined as one family member who murders other members of their family, commonly taking the lives of all.
It is most often used to describe cases where a parent, usually the father, kills his wife and children and then himself.
These cases are horrifying acts which can wipe out an entire family, leaving relatives, friends, and colleagues stunned and confused.
Often no outward signs were visible to suggest anyone was in danger or that there was a risk of an individual taking such horrific actions. Chillingly in the UK, statistics suggest that a child is more likely to be killed by a parent than by a stranger. There is no court case, no opportunity to find out why and whether or not this was a premeditated planned murder or an act which was spontaneous due to thoughts at that very moment.
Those left behind can only speculate on what may have caused someone they loved to kill their family, and most often, take the lives of innocent children. In a study published in the Howard Journal of Criminal Justiceby criminologist Professor David Wilson and colleagues inresearchers analyzed newspaper articles over three decades from to where cases of familicide were reported. They found a total of 71 cases where 59 of the perpetrators were male and over half were between the ages of years old when they committed the crime.
In contrast to other groups, such as serial killers and mass murderers, these were found to be individuals with good backgrounds. They were not known to the police or the criminal justice system; they often had good jobs, families, and friends around them.
They can be very successful people in their lives and not the kind of person who it is perceived would kill anyone never mind their entire family. He kills each member of the family who is present, sometimes including pets. He may commit suicide after killing the others, or may force the police to kill him. E Dietz Researchers also identified four common areas which may be the causes of such family murders; a breakdown in the family relationship and issues surrounding access to children, money worries and financial hardship, cultural honor killings and mental illness.
In a large percentage of cases, the killer tried to commit suicide after the act. These findings echo the conclusions drawn from a study by Leveillee and colleagues who examined 16 cases of familicide in Quebec between and Furthermore, that social loss, economic reasons, mental illness and intimate partner loss were the most common likely causes of murder-suicide within a family.
Admitting the fraud and resigning from his position, he was distraught and devastated by the shame of his actions. He had beat his wife to death and led his children between the ages of 3 and 10 years old to the garage, where he tried unsuccessfully to kill them and himself with carbon monoxide poisoning.Hugh McFall, 48, of Oswestry, Shropshire, was found hanged on 5 February, hours after wife Susan, 55, and Francesca, 18, were found dead.
A florist beat his wife and daughter to death with a rubber mallet before hanging himself amid fears he would lose a big customer, an inquest heard.
Hugh McFall, We're about to get a standard altruistic murder story highlighting the role of the employment, which completely misses the important subtleties. The self-employed flower salesman was facing accusations of invoice discrepancies from his main customer - which had suspended his contract - and feared a police investigation into his accounts Their lifestyle, as he knew it, would be over. The lifestyle often involves some kind of "soft" illegality accounting irregularities, the use of drugs, etc.
The news may cite jail as the main stressor; but the general fear is the irrreproducibility of the lifestyle e. A sudden, temporary, but unshakable realization that there is no way out of this.
Business associates told the hearing that Mr McFall had considered himself "finished" after a meeting about alleged invoice discrepancies the day before his death. If you hear a man say, "I'm finished", believe it. Especially if it doesn't seem as bad as he thinks it is. It's his inability to see alternatives which would require another person's perspective that makes him dangerous.
While anyone can see how severe the problem is, no one else sees the problem as insurmountable-- except him. West Mercia Police said the case would probably not have ended up in court but an investigation would have been started if the owners of Stans Superstore had taken their concerns to police. This is his inability to see things from another perspective except his own. What's obvious to you is not obvious to him, and opportunities to intervene can be missed if you think he "would have thought of that himself.
Let's get a lawyer. If nothing else, it's going to buy you some time The longer he can experience his shame, the longer he will be able to live with his shame or create a rationalization that will let himself live with it. The goal isn't to solve his problems, but delay him until he can think straight.On Jan. According to local news accounts, Jacobson had become increasingly despondent in the wake of his father's death and a string of failed business ventures. After killing his family, authorities say, he tried to commit suicide by downing a fistful of prescription pills he survived, however, and now faces first-degree murder charges.
It was a horrifying crime, and the question is, what could possibly drive someone to commit such an appalling act? Since the perpetrators usually either kill themselves or immediately confess, such cases tend to be solved quickly and disappear from the headlines. As a result, authorities haven't had to devote a lot of investigative effort to plumbing the killers' minds. But now, new research is shedding light on the psychological makeup of family annihilators.
A separate group of researchers is currently compiling the results of a year study on familicide that has unsettling implications. According to preliminary findings, family killings have risen with the unemployment rate. In general, causal links between the economy and murder are weak witness declining murder rates across the country. But family annihilations are in a different class, says Jack Levin, a professor of sociology at Northeastern University and lead author of the soon-to-be-released year study.
As part of that upcoming study, he compared the number of such crimes in the first four months ofwhen the unemployment rate was about 5 percent, to the same period inwhen the rate leaped to nearly 9 percent.
Examining a narrow set of cases those involving at least three victims and a suicidehe found that the number of incidents in the U. Along with other multicides, such as serial and spree killings, familicides account for less than 0. Within the category of multiple murders, familicides are the most common, averaging about 41 percent of the total in recent years.
Annihilators are overwhelmingly male 95 percent, he estimatesand mostly white and middle-aged. They feel inadequate as men and have often suffered childhood abuse. Having felt powerless as kids, many try to exert strict control over their households and seek to create an idealized version of family that they never experienced.
When the economy is in decline, jobs are scarce, tensions are high, and the control these men seek becomes harder to maintain. According to Websdale, these men fall along a continuum between what he calls "livid coercive" killers and "civil reputable" ones.
The former are driven by rage: they are controlling and sometimes abusive figures who derive self-worth from the authority they exert at home. But that behavior typically plunges the marriage into crisis, often prompting the wife and children to try to leave. The resulting lack of control triggers feelings of humiliation, eventually leading the father to reassert his power in a final paroxysm of violence.
The "civil reputable" killer, on the other hand, is motivated by a perverse form of altruism. The father is almost always considering suicide as the only escape from some sort of financial crisis. Murdering his family members, then, becomes a way of rescuing them from the hardship and shame of bankruptcy and suicide.
Economic duress can also play a role in rage killings, though it's not usually the main trigger. This narcissistic sense of chivalry is evident in the way many of these perpetrators execute their victims.
The professional wrestler Chris Benoit, who murdered his wife and son and then hanged himself inis believed to have sedated the boy before strangling him. The researchers hope their findings can offer guidance to law enforcement and social workers. The livid-coercive types often have records.
One recent case in Louisiana involved a man who was subject to a third restraining order at the time he killed his estranged wife and son, and then himself. As for the civil-reputable ones, Websdale advises counselors dealing with depressed clients to probe their economic circumstances and any thoughts of hurting themselves or family members.
With greater vigilance, perhaps those would-be annihilators out there who have yet to act can be stopped.Dear old dad, leader of the pack, head of the household, Mayor of Murder Town. One of these is not the nickname one would hope to have for Daddy Dearest.
But if anyone in a family is most capable and likely of snapping and killing the whole family, it's Mr. Despite sharing many similarities with mass murderers and serial killers, family annihilators are different than any other brand of murderer that exist.
Family annihilators are men who decide if they aren't happy, the rest of the family can't be happy But how do you know if someone is about to murder their entire family? Are there family annihilator warning signs? Most of the modern research about men who murder their entire families concludes that men, especially fathers, are finding it harder to cope with life on an every day basis.
The Fayetteville, Georgia, police found anabolic steroids on the scene, and police believe that the drug may have had an affect on his behavior.
Most mothers and fathers faced with money problems look to practical resources for solving their problem. But there are those few fathers who decided the cutbacks should be on number of family members. Instead of trying to work his way out of the hole he completely snapped.
13 Signs Your Father Is About To Become A Family Annihilator
On Easter morning he set fire to his house, killing him and five of his children. For someone suffering from an undiagnosed mental illness a major life crises can be what finally pushes them too far.
This was the case in when Mukesh Suthar lost his job and murdered his wife, Varsha, and his his son before turning the gun on himself.
Paranoia is something that's hard to do away with once it begins manifesting itselfbut if you notice a parent or friend who's obviously dealing with psychotic symptoms don't be afraid to reach out and get help.
He's Suffered Multiple Brain Injuries.I still think that. Shame characteristically results in a desire to sever the lines of sight between oneself and the other. We talk about wanting to hide our face and the characteristic look of shame — the head bowed, the eyes lowered. Rather than hide, one can instead do away with the audience. And that could theoretically make for a basis for empathy or solidarity between the perpetrators and the victims.
Misogynistic attacks have made me feel ashamed, to the point of wanting to disappear, sometimes. I know a lot of women feel similarly.
Even though it ought not be the case, it is. Nor is it irrational: shaming has social meaning. I want to discuss the entitled shame that results in destructive, vengeful fury.
Its most vivid illustration is provided by family annihilators. Family annihilators may well have existed for as long as the family itself.
Study: family killers are usually men and fit one of four distinct profiles
They are generally white men. One such was Chris Foster, a British man who invented a kind of safety valve to use in drilling on an oil rig. The valve was the greatest valve. He made a huge amount of money. He bought a fleet of luxury cars and a mansion in Shropshire, in which he installed his wife, Jill, and his daughter, Kirstie.
He had affairs with many women — his having a thing for blondes, apparently — but his wife put up with it.
But his money gave him confidence, according to his sister-in-law, quoted in this story by Jon Ronson. Chris Foster had a large collection of guns and belonged to a clay pigeon shooting club. The men there knew him as a loving husband and affectionate father. He went shooting one last time, at a barbecue, that day. That night, at home, he shot his wife and daughter in the back of their heads, killing them.
Then he committed suicide as blazed his last bonfire. Does it surprise you to learn the reason? He went broke, after a series of bad business decisions.
He was going to lose everything. The possessions he burned were due to be repossessed the next day by the bailiffs. As Ronson points out, family annihilators are common in the US as well.
A man will kill his family members and then himself once a week, on average. According to the criminologist David Wilson, quoted in this articlefamily annihilators are distinctive among murderers in typically being previously unknown to the criminal justice system — or even mental health services. He explains:. Wilson and other researchers have come to distinguish family annihilators of four main types: self-righteousanomicdisappointedand paranoid.
The self-righteous type blames others, often their wives or estranged wives, for their downfall. The anomic type feels humiliated by external events like bankruptcy. The disappointed type feels let down by his family, as if the social order is crumbling. The paranoid type feels his kin is under threat from outsiders. So, to stave off the threat, he takes it upon himself to murder them. One suspects that these profiles are not mutually exclusive.Researchers in the UK have identified four primary types of people usually fathers or mothers who kill their entire families — self-righteous, disappointed, anomic, and paranoid.
Researchers looked at newspapers and other reports of family murders from toto analyze the characteristics and demographic factors of each family and the murderer, 83 percent of whom were male.
Sixty-five percent of the men who killed their families were in their 20s or 30s 55 percent were in their 30s. August was found to be the most common month for the killing to take place, accounting for 20 percent of cases. Just under half of all murders were committed over weekends, especially on a Sunday.
Eighty-one percent of the men attempted suicide after the act, which refutes the traditional idea that family annihilators may force the police to shoot them, as is common with spree murderers. Also refuted is the idea that murderers may be unhappy or frustrated men with a long life history of failure.
Some had been highly successful in their careers before the murder. In the present study, researchers found that 71 percent were employed, with occupations ranged from surgeons and marketing executives, to postmen, police and lorry drivers. Stabbings and carbon monoxide poisoning were statistically the most common murder methods, while the majority of murders were found to take place in the home. Financial difficulties were the second most commonly cited motive; followed by honor killing and mental illness.
Self-righteous: The killer seeks to locate blame for his crimes upon the mother whom he holds responsible for the breakdown of the family. This may involve the killer phoning his partner before the murder to explain what he is about to do. For these men, their breadwinner status is central to their idea of the ideal family.
Disappointed: This killer believes his family has let him down or has acted in ways to undermine or destroy his vision of ideal family life. An example may be disappointment that children are not following the traditional religious or cultural customs of the father. Anomic: In these cases the family has become firmly linked in the mind of the killer to the economy. The father sees family as the result of his economic success, allowing him to display his achievements.
However, if the father becomes an economic failure, he sees the family as no longer serving this function. Paranoid: Those who perceive an external threat to the family. This is often social services or the legal system, which the father fears will side against him and take away the children. Here the murder is motivated by a twisted desire to protect the family. In all of these cases masculinity and perceptions of power sets the background for the crimes.
The family role of the father is central to their ideas of masculinity and the murders represent a last ditch attempt to perform a masculine role. The Psych Central News Editor is a member of the Psych Central staff with background in journalism and mental health reporting. This is a rotating position, but is filled with a qualified reporter with appropriate psychology and mental health news experience.
Characteristics of 4 Types of Family Murderers.The Bain Family Familicide
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