The past century is speckled with some pretty horrific crime stories. Our fascination with death and darkness has opened the floodgates for a whole new type of criminal marketing. TV specials, books and news reports love to cash in on a tragic story. We seem to be even more fascinated with a particularly dark category: kids who kill.
What drives children to commit murder? Is it the result of abuse? Untreated psychological problems? Jealousy? Or, worse, unmanaged frustration with parents and siblings? More and more youths are finding themselves in legal trouble after having committed atrocious crimes. Our media’s sensationalism of crime and violence is certainly not helping the statistics. Kids of today are bombarded with a unique type of visual stimuli. Every second program on TV depicts violent situations. The news offers a grim reality of what is going on in the world, and horror movies offer extremely graphic depictions of torture and murder. Not to mention the Internet, where you can literally access every single horrible thing that has ever happened.
Kids that kill are awful, but kids that kill their family members make us really squirm. What drove these kids to taking out their nearest and dearest? Were the crimes premeditated, provoked, or random? Let’s take a walk down memory lane (a dark memory lane) and review the most notorious of all. Here are 15 Creepy Kids Who Killed Their Family Members.
15. Christopher Porco
Christopher Porco, a Rochester, NY native, got himself in quite a lot of trouble in 2004. A student at the University of Rochester, Christopher got into the habit of presenting himself as a rich and successful young man. The only trouble was, he was using his father’s signature to obtain lines of credits and personal loans. The result? Christopher ended up with a mountain of debt and involvement in fraud. It has been speculated that his parents found out about his illegal activities and confronted him. In a panic, he bludgeoned his father, Peter, to death with an axe. His mother, Joan, was attacked in a similar fashion, but miraculously survived. She was brought to hospital where she nodded “yes” when asked “Did Christopher do this?” After spending some time in a coma, Joan came out with no memory of the attack. Despite being sentenced to 25 to life for each attack, Jonathan has the support of his mother, who refuses to believe that he is guilty.
14. Brian Blackwell
The Brian Blackwell case has many similarities to the Christopher Porco case. A classic narcissist, Brian Blackwell was using his father’s name (and credit) to get charge cards and personal loans from the bank. He was studying to become a doctor, and presented himself as a professional tennis player to his fellow students in Melling, England. His parents eventually discovered what he was doing, and confronted him on July 24, 2004. Brian savagely beat his parents with a claw hammer and then stabbed them to death to quiet them. Hauntingly, their bodies were not discovered for months. In the meantime, Brian brought his girlfriend on a long, lavish vacation to New York City and Barbados, charging over $50,000 US to his father’s credit cards. When the bodies were found in September, Brian tried to claim self-defense, but was ultimately charged and sentenced to life in prison.
13. Jasmine Richardson
Jasmine Richardson was just 12-years old when she was involved in murdering her family members in the small town of Medicine Hat, Alberta. Along with her 23-year-old boyfriend, Jeremy Allan Steinke, the Canadian youth stabbed her parents to death and slit her young brother’s throat. Her parents did not approve of her relationship with a much older man, and this seemed to be the main motive for the crime. They were both formally charged with the deaths, although Jasmine’s age prevented her from being tried as an adult in Canada. She spent 10 years incarcerated, which she completed in May of 2006. She has shown remorse for her actions, has undergone extensive psychiatric counselling, and is now free of any court-ordered conditions. Steinke, on the other hand, is serving three concurrent life sentences. He will only be eligible for parole after serving a minimum of 25 years incarcerated.
12. David Brom
In 1998, in Rochester, Minnesota, high school student David Brom killed his mother, father and two young siblings with an axe, before going to school for the day. At school, he bragged about having killed his family that morning. The authorities were called, and were horrified when they arrived at the home to find the entire family dead. David seemed to have very little motive, or remorse, for the crime he had committed. An insanity defense was dismissed, despite clear indication that he was suffering from some sort of mental illness or lapse of judgement when the crimes were committed. His age did not protect him from being tried as an adult, either, and he was committed to prison for life. The 16-year old culprit is now 45 years old and will only be eligible for parole in 2041.
11. Lizzie Borden
Lizzie Borden was one of the founding parent-killers around the turn on the 20th century. In 1892, she killed her father and stepmother, Andrew and Abby Borden, with an axe, in their Fall River, Massachusetts home. The crime gained notoriety for several reasons. It was, first of all, shocking to the masses. People didn’t kill their parents back in the day! Not only that, to have a woman commit such a violent and brutal crime was extremely upsetting to the local population of Fall River (and, the rest of the United States, the case was national news in 1892). Speculations that there was tension in the household due to the transfer and ownership of property were at the forefront of the case. Lizzie allegedly had issues with her stepmother, whom she believed was after her father’s money. The trial wrapped up in 1893, and Lizzie was acquitted of all charges and set free. No one else was ever tried in connection to the double murders and Lizzie lived freely until her death in 1927.
10.William James Bresnahan Jr.
The case of William James Bresnahan Jr. is one of the most disturbing on this list. In 1964, 16-year-old William stabbed and bludgeoned his mother and father to death. The trio were on a camping trip in their hometown state of Colorado. Allegedly, William got into an argument with his mother, which subsequently led to him stabbing her to death. He then confessed his crime to his father before bludgeoning him to death. William claimed that his parents had abused him for years, and he had simply had enough. He was condemned to prison and charged with two life sentences, but what happened next was totally unexpected. William pursued his education while incarcerated. He graduated university with a 4.0 GPA, which convinced the judge to reduce his sentence to 24 years. When he was released from prison, he went to medical school and became a doctor. In 1983 he received his medical license, and the governor gave him an unconditional pardon in 1987. He is now working with migrant workers in California and has never committed another crime. Creepy!
9. Seth Privacky
Seth Privacky killed 5 people at a Thanksgiving dinner in 1988. Very festive! According to the reports, he was upset that his father had attempted to kick him out of the house, so he grabbed a .22 caliber Ruger and started to rampage. First he killed his brother Jed, then his father and grandfather. He subsequently took out his mother, who was coming out of the shower. Finally, his brother’s girlfriend, April, who arrived to the house at the wrong time, was also killed. Seth then called his best friend Steven, to help him move the bodies and make the scene appear like a robbery. Unfortunately, during their staging, April’s parents’ showed up to the home and Seth ran away from the premises. He was captured the next day and confessed to the crimes. In 2010, while serving a life sentence, he was shot to death by prison guards after attempting to escape.
8. John William McGrath
Here’s an upsetting case of a young man who took out his entire family in their New Hampshire home in 1962. John William McGrath, a 17-year old high school student, shot and killed his two young brothers and his parents on March 10, 1962. He then drove himself to a hospital 45 miles away, covered in his family’s blood, and asked to be treated. Prior to the murders, he had actually spent two years in a psychiatric hospital, being treated for paranoid schizophrenia. He was found not criminally responsible by a grand jury, and committed to a mental hospital for ongoing treatment and observation. In 1974, during a supervised walk on the property grounds, he managed to escape. Mysteriously, no one has ever heard from him since then. It is the longest standing unsolved escape in New Hampshire history. If still alive, he would be 73 years old today.
7. David Bain
The David Bain case has perhaps one of the strangest defenses of all time. In 1994, David Bain was accused of murdering his entire family in their New Zealand home. His mother Margaret, his father Robin and his three siblings Arawa, Laniet and Stephen had all been shot. David claimed that he had been out on his morning paper run, and discovered the bodies upon his return. His story didn’t completely add up. They found that his clothes had recently been put into the washing machine, and a lens from his glasses had been found on Stephen’s bedroom floor. He was charged four days later with the deaths and sentenced to life in prison. His defense team continued to rally and he was granted a retrial in 2009. The defense presented an alternate theory; that Robin has in fact killed his family before committing suicide. They claimed that he was estranged from his wife and involved in an incestuous relationship with his daughter. Oddly enough, this worked and David was acquitted and set free.
6. Lowell Lee Andrews
Another Thanksgiving murder in the USA! What is it with this holiday that drives kids to kill? In 1958, Lowell Lee Andrews killed his family, his mother Opal, his father William and his 17-year old sister Jennie Marie. The three were watching TV in their sitting room, when Lowell came down from his bedroom and shot them. His father, William, was hit with 17 bullets. He then drove to the nearby town of Lawrence, Kansas, to watch a movie in a theatre in order to gain an alibi. When he returned home, he called the police to report the murders. The police were immediately suspicious of Lowell’s demeanor- he seemed entirely unemotional about the entire situation. When the families’ Baptist minister arrived on scene, Lowell was persuaded into a confession. He claimed that he felt “nothing” while killing his family. He was sentenced to death and executed by hanging in 1962.
5. Andrew Wamsley
In 2003, Andrew Wamsley, a 19-year old Texas teen, planned and orchestrated the murder of his parents, Rick and Suzanna Wamsley. The execution was planned with Andrew’s girlfriend Chelsea and her roommate Susana. The idea was to kill the parents in order to inherit their estate of close to $2 million. Susana Toledano, who actually executed the murders, pled that she was forced to kill the parents by Andrew and Chelsea. The three were convicted of murder and all given serious sentences. Susana Toledano entered a plea deal and will be eligible for parole in 2034. Andrew Wamsley will only be eligible for parole in 2044, at the age of 60. Chelsea Richardson narrowly escaped capital punishment and is serving a life sentence, as well.
4. Daniel Bartlam
In April 2011, 14-year old Daniel Bartlam murdered his mother and then set the house on fire to conceal his crime. The Nottingham youth initially told police than an intruder had set their house on fire after hurting his mother. They later found the hammer that Daniel had used to bludgeon his mother to death in her bed. The case was front page news, with particular emphasis being placed on Daniel’s obsession with violent video games and movies. There seemed to be no evidence that Daniel’s upbringing was anything short of picture perfect, so a motive was hard to come by. Despite being a youth at the time of the murder, he is going to be detained for a minimum of 16 years before being eligible for any type of parole.
3. Lyle and Erik Menendez
The Menendez brothers’ case was all over the news in the mid 90’s, when they went to trial for the murder of their parents, Jose and Kitty Menendez. The Cuban-born brothers were from an affluent family that became successful in Beverly Hills as entertainment executives. In 1989, the brothers killed their parents by shooting them to death. They claimed that the murders were the result of years of sexual and physical abuse, but the jury didn’t buy their defense. The case was one of the biggest Hollywood cases; the mansion where the murders took place had previously been rented out to Elton John and Prince. The brothers were both issued life sentences with no possibility of parole. They will spend the rest of their lives behind bars. Despite both having been married while in prison, they are not entitled to conjugal visits and the brothers have not spoken to each other in over 10 years.
2. Alex and Derek King
Alex and Derek King were a pair of delinquent brothers who came from a broken home. They were living with their father in 2001, when the brothers’ were befriended by Rick Chavis, a friend of their dads. Mr. Chavis started a homosexual, pedophiliac relationship with a then 12-year old Alex. The brothers’ enjoyed the attention they received from Mr. Chavis, so they conspired to kill their father so that they could move in with him. The brothers used a baseball bat to crush their father’s skull, and then set the house on fire. Because they were minors, they were given shorter sentences; Alex was released from prison in 2008, after serving only 7 years, and Derek was released in 2009. For his involvement in the crime, Rick Chavis was also given a prison sentence and will only be eligible for parole in 2028.
1. Brad Lee Davis
This case is actually kind of tragic, since it’s clear that the perpetrator had no intentions of killing anyone. In 2013, Brad Lee Davis, an ex-marine, got into a heated argument with his stepfather Denver St. Clair. The alcohol-fueled argument started when St.Clair insulted Davis’ mother. Davis then gave his stepfather what is referred to as an “atomic wedgie” in which one’s underwear is pulled over his head. Unfortunately, the underwear was wound so tightly around St. Clair’s neck that it actually suffocated and killed him. Davis pled guilty to charges of first degree manslaughter, and was sentenced to thirty years prison. Talk about a family fight gone bad!