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8 of the World's Youngest Murderers

As author Tom Robbins wisely states, "There are many things worth living for, a few things worth dying for, and nothing worth killing for." Yet murder mysteries and serial killers make the front pages

As author Tom Robbins wisely states, "There are many things worth living for, a few things worth dying for, and nothing worth killing for." Yet murder mysteries and serial killers make the front pages of newspapers worldwide every single day. Such stories shake up local communities and capture the interest of entire nations. Recently, the entire world was engulfed in a media frenzy due to the shooting spree that took place in Santa Barbara, California. Elliot Rodger, aged 22, was the perpetrator. Rodger opened fire in a sorority house before taking his tirade out in the open, murdering six innocent people. The horror and cruelty of cold blooded murder never loses its shock factor but the act seems just that much more terrifying when committed by a child.

Child murderers are more common than any of us would like to think, while such cases are often treated delicately by the courts. Many questions arise in the case of a child murderer: What possible motive could a young person - barely a teenager - have for committing a murder? Is the child responsible for his or her actions, or was she or he driven by mental health problems or dangerously corrupting external influences? Should child murderers be tried as adults? The media and the general public are often left divided as to how such children should be treated. Here, we've taken a look at  some of the most gruesome and shocking murders committed by children, all aged 15 or under. These crimes were unprecedented and terrifying, simultaneously emotive and divisive, and few are really certain whether or not these children received the punishment they deserved. Some graphic descriptions follow.

8 Daniel Bartlam, 14

via mirror.co.uk

7 Eric Smith, 13

via cvltnation.com

6 George Stinney, 14

via winnipegfreepress.com

George Stinney was a 14 year old boy from South Carolina. In 1944, Stinney was charged with the murder of two white girls, Betty June Binnicker (11) and Mary Emma Thames (7). Stinney, who had been seen talking to the girls the day before their bodies were found, was soon caught in a media circus that would see him convicted and executed in less than three months. Stinney was given the electric chair, making him the youngest person to be executed in such fashion in the history of the United States.

However, his family have never given up hope of clearing his name. Recently, many journalists have outlined inconsistencies and a lack of physical evidence to back up the largely circumstantial case that incriminated Stinney. Many believe that Stinney became a victim of the polarising divide between blacks and whites in South Carolina's Jim Crow era.

5 Alyssa Bustamante, 15

via bet.com

4 Joshua Phillips, 14

via nbcnews.com

3 Mary Bell, 11

via vebidoo.com

2 Paul Henry Gingerich, 12

via mirror.co.uk

Paul Henry Gingerich played a central role in the murder of Phillip Danner, the stepfather of his friend Colt Lundy. The murder took place on the 21st of April 2010, when Lundy was 15 and Gingerich was only 12. The pair and their mutual friend Chase Williams (also 12) were planning to run away to Arizona together. Lundy knew that his stepfather would catch them, so Lundy hatched a plan to kill his stepfather. He enlisted the help of Gingerich and Williams; Williams would later get cold feet and would not participate in the murder.

1 Jon Venables and Robert Thompson, both 10

via chroniclelive.co.uk

Jon Venables and Robert Thompson were the murderous duo who became the perpetrators of one of the most notorious murders in British history.

In 1993, three year old James Bulger was waiting for his mother outside a butcher shop in a shopping mall. Bolger was lured away by Venables and Thompson while his mother was distracted. The boys brought Bulger on a long walk along a canal and during this time they were spotted by almost 40 separate witnesses. All witnesses claimed that they believed Bulger to be their younger brother. The pair went on to subject Bulger to physical and sexual assault and then dumped Bulger's body on some railway tracks and covered him with stones - Bulger was later hit by a train. His body was discovered two days later. Venables and Thompson were cutting school at the time of the murder. They were linked to the murder after they were spotted on the mall's CCTV with Bulger. The boys were tried in adult court and were placed in rehabilitation units. They were controversially released, under very tight parole agreements, in 2001. The motive behind the killing is still unknown, though at the time many public figures asserted that the boys were influenced by violent movies.

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8 of the World's Youngest Murderers