There are many kids in the world who are estranged from their dads, sometimes due to marital differences between their parents, sometimes due to the kids being rotten eggs and sometimes because the dads are rather deadly. But nothing matches this list of actual deadly dads – fathers who kill their kids for insane, inane or simply downright evil reasons. As the proverbial heads of family, it’s the responsibility of the fathers to take care of and provide for their families. They are the ones the kids look up to, idolize and even want to be like, or want to be married to (the little girl crush).
Frankly, which father doesn’t want to pull his hair out when the kids are throwing a tantrum? And then there are many kids who actually make their daddies go gray far earlier than usual. But which father could ever envision killing their kids? These villains, sane or otherwise, did more than just imagine – they planned and meticulously killed their kids. Some confessed, some probably felt guilty enough to off themselves in a murder-suicide, but there are also those who vanished without a trace – and have never been caught, even after they brutally annihilated their entire families.
There are cultures where the father’s word is considered supreme and unquestionable – think ancient Rome or even modern-day Islamic countries. But does this right include murdering their harmless, innocent children in the most heart-wrenching ways possible? You decide.
15 Ronald O’Bryan: The Candyman Who Killed His Son On Halloween For Insurance Money
So when Ronald O’Bryan went into debt and was in danger of losing his home, car, his job as well as his “status” – he did what any dad, or rather any murdering and conscienceless father would do – take out multiple insurance policies on both his kids.
Then like any other normal dad, he took his kids trick-or-treating on Halloween, the night the boogeymen are out in full force. For eight-year-old Timothy, Ronald’s son, it turned out that the scary boogeyman, or rather Candyman, was his dad. When one home did not open the door to Timothy and his five-year-old sister Elizabeth’s calls, they grew impatient and ran to the next house. Like a good dad, Ronald waited at the door and later handed Pixy Stix to his two children as well as one each to the two neighbor’s kids who were also with them. When everyone went home and it was time for bed, Timothy decided he wanted to eat a candy and chose the Pixy Stix. He complained about its bitter taste and so Ronald gave him some Kool-Aid to wash away the taste – soon after Timothy began vomiting, crying with pain, and convulsing. He died en route to the hospital. Why? Because his father had decided to cash in on the insurance money and laced all the Pixy Stix with enough cyanide to kill two adults – luckily for the other kids, they didn’t eat any. Ten years after Timothy’s death, Ronald was executed by lethal injection in 1984. Until the end, he maintained his innocence!
14 Judith Barsi: Shot At 10 By Her Alcoholic & Abusive Father
Most moms would know Judith Barsi – she was the one who voiced the dinosaur Ducky in The Land Before Time, the 80s movie series. Born to Hungarian parents who immigrated to the USA, Judith started to appear in commercials when she was just five and went on to appear in more than 50 commercials, many TV shows, and plenty of movies as well in a five-year career that ended when her abusive father József shot her and her mother Maria, burned their bodies and then shot himself as well.
Judith was the breadwinner of the family, and that was what her father couldn’t bear. He turned into an alcoholic and became an abusive husband and father, often hitting Maria and Judith. In fact, Judith broke down on set and so she was taken to a child psychologist where it was clear that this little girl was a victim of physical and psychological abuse. Maria decided to leave József for good and take her daughter out of this hell. This is when József shot his daughter and wife and let their bodies decompose while he wandered around in an alcoholic daze. He then set fire to their bodies and shot himself in the head too, ending his sorry excuse of a life. Judith was 10 when she died and her last completed work, All Dogs Go To Heaven, was released a year later in 1989.
13 John List: An Unassuming Accountant Who Annihilated His Family & Disappeared To Remarry
All those who knew John List knew him to be a God-fearing man, who took care of his ailing mother, bore his vitriolic wife and was trying to raise his three children, a daughter and two sons, in a religious and respectable atmosphere. A conscientious accountant married to a wife with syphilis, John nevertheless tried to take care of his wife even though she was mentally degrading as well. Until he was laid off from his job. He didn’t tell his family for a while, believing he would be further insulted by his wife, and started to siphon off money from his handicapped mother’s bank accounts.
When things didn’t change and he didn’t get a job, John list turned to filicide and shot his wife, mother, and two of his children. He then picked up his son from a soccer game at school and shot him too. He locked the house, and vanished – this was in 1971. The bodies of the family were discovered a month later and by that time John List was nowhere to be found. In 1989, he was profiled in America’s Most Wanted and an age-advanced sketch was released. A neighbor recognized List, who was now remarried and living under the alias Bob Clark. He was arrested and sentenced to five consecutive terms of life imprisonment and finally died in prison in 2008 – aged 82.
12 William Bradford Bishop: Bludgeoned His Sons To Death And Then Vanished
What goes on in the mind of a father who kills three children and then kills his wife and mother too? This question will definitely be in your mind when you hear the sorry tale of the mother, wife, and three sons of William Bradford Bishop. In 1976, a small bushfire uncovered the rather grizzly remains of five bodies – two female adults and three male juveniles. Despite best efforts by the authorities, the bodies remained unidentified till eight days later when a bloody crime scene was discovered at the house of William Bradford Bishop – and so it came to light that the bloodied and burnt corpses were those of Bishop’s wife, mother, and his three sons aged five, ten, and fourteen at the time.
Neither was this a quick or kind-hearted kill for this stone-cold monster who murdered his children, wife, and mother and yet kept the family dog – he took a hammer and bludgeoned them all to death while they slept. Police officials went on record to say that never before had they seen such a gruesome scene of carnage in the boys' room where everything was blood-spattered and there were hammer marks on the ceiling as well, right above the bunk beds where the three Bishop boys slept and were battered to death by their own father. Bishop is still on FBI’s most wanted list and despite many sightings overseas, hasn’t been caught yet. On August 1, 2017, the butcher of Bethesda would be 81 years old
11 Jeffrey MacDonald: I Didn’t Kill My Daughter & Pregnant Wife, Manson-esque Hippies Did
Dr. Jeffrey MacDonald had two beautiful daughters and a gorgeous wife, pregnant with his unborn son, and was an army doctor with a good, clean track record. So when he called in a stabbing and the authorities found his wife and two daughters stabbed to death, and MacDonald injured with a stab wound, bruises, and a concussion – they initially believed his story and an Army Article 32 cleared him of all wrongdoing. MacDonald was a free man and joined a hospital as a director.
He then appeared on a TV show and joked about how the authorities had once suspected him – his father-in-law, the father of his dead wife, found this to be more suspect than in bad taste although initially, he had believed his son-in-law to be innocent. He filed a citizen’s complaint and the prosecution was able to successfully knock many holes in his “survival” story and MacDonald was found guilty on all three counts of murder. He is still serving his sentence though there are many who believe in his innocence, and he has also remarried since then.
10 Josh Powell: A Missing Wife That Led To A Father Killing His Sons
When Susan Powell went missing in 2009, suspicions fell to her husband Josh since they had been having marital problems for a while. Josh eventually lost custody of his children since his story of last seeing Susan did not seem plausible and there was written evidence of Susan mentioning her husband’s rages. Susan’s parents got custody of their grandchildren – Braden and Charlie, and Josh was reduced to supervised visits.
In 2012, after the police were close to linking Susan’s disappearance to Josh, this father of two went berserk. A social worker brought his sons, seven-year-old Braden and five-year-old Charlie, to him for a supervised visit when suddenly Josh pulled his sons inside and locked the lady out. He then proceeded to attack his sons with a hatchet and then blew up the house in a murder-suicide. Sadly, Susan’s body has never been found and she is still registered as a missing person. Later Josh’s father was arrested on voyeurism charges and Michael Powell, Josh’s brother, also committed suicide since the police believed that they too were involved in Susan's disappearance.
9 Gary Sherrill: I Killed My Son Because He Was A Demon And Wanted To Eat Me
51-year-old Gary Sherrill somehow believed that his 13-year-old son, David, was a demon and had plans of eating him and to save him from becoming the devil’s meal, he killed his son instead. Divorced from his wife, Gary shared custody of their 13-year-old son with her and had picked up the boy for a day together, on December 30. When he didn’t return the boy by New Year’s Eve and wasn’t reachable by phone either, his ex-wife called the police.
Initially, Sherrill denied that the boy was with him but once the police wrangled their way in the house, they found the teen’s body that had multiple stab wounds and lacerations. Upon questioning, Sherrill confessed to having hit his son “three or four times with an ax” for he believed that his demon son was going to eat him. Sherrill was found guilty except insane and placed under the psychiatric board’s jurisdiction.
8 Marvin Gaye Sr: An Icon Lost Because Of Father-Son Friction
Marvin Gaye, the Prince of Motown and the Prince of Soul, was by no means a calm and serene individual but a troubled one on drugs who often had suicidal thoughts and remained in fear of his life during his last tour. Added to that was the troubled relationship he had with his father – the two simply didn’t get along.
Despite all that, Marvin Gaye bought a house for the family for all of them to cohabit but his father and him could not really make it work ever – in fact, his temperamental father had made it clear to all his kids that if they ever struck him, he would murder them. Just a day shy of his 45th birthday, Marvin Gaye, irked by his father’s attitude towards his mother, intervened between a fight of theirs and beat his dad, Marvin Gaye Sr. black and blue. This fuming elder then went back to his room, retrieved a gun that his son had gifted him and then shot his son through the heart once and once more at point blank range. He later claimed to be afraid for his life and also thought that the gun did not have real bullets. Marvin Sr. wept when he learned he had killed his son but regret never brings back lost moments, or children for that matter.
7 Gavin Hall: Killed His Daughter To Punish His Adulterous Wife
For any husband, finding out that your wife is cheating on you is usually a big deal and involves anger, jealousy, and plenty angry emotions. However, most men reserve their anger or even revenge for their errant wives and do not take it out on their innocent children.
33-year-old Gavin Hall from Northampton turned out to be an evil freak. A radiographer by profession, he discovered that his wife had been exchanging sexually explicit messages with an Internet friend and so he decided to annihilate his family. He started by killing the family cats but before he could move on to the rest, his wife’s message to him made him assume that there was still hope. However, by next day, it was clear that Joanne planned to leave him, so Gavin, in a fit of rage, lured his three-year-old daughter and knocked her unconscious with a chloroform-dipped rag before strangling her. He was arrested and sentenced to life for murdering his little daughter, for no crime of hers...
6 Mohammed Riaz: Murder-Suicide By A Father, Survived By Just A Leukemia-Stricken Son
Mohammed Riaz, the father to 16-year-old Sayrah Riaz, 15-year-old Sophia, 10-year-old Alisha, and 3-year-old Hannah, as well as 17-year-old leukemia-stricken Adam, did the unthinkable. He doused the family home in Accrington, Lancashire, with accelerants like diesel or petrol, locked all the doors from the inside, and set the home alight. While Adam was in the hospital, the four girls and their mother, Caneze, were at home, dressed up for a Halloween party.
All the four girls and their mother, as well as their disturbed, murderous father, succumbed to the flames and died horrible, horrific deaths – with Mohammed dying later in the hospital. Apparently, he believed that his wife was leaving him for another man despite the fact that both of them were distraught over their son’s illness and disturbed over being jilted, he decided to kill his family and leave his leukemia-stricken son to face his illness all by himself. Sadly, Adam died a few weeks later.
5 James Saltmarshall: Raped His Eight-Month Daughter, Killed Her
22-year-old Detroit resident James Saltmarshall was arrested and charged with the death and sexual assault of his eight-month-old daughter, Janiyah, who he was left alone with when her mother and James’ girlfriend went to work.
The father called for medical assistance when he claimed that she became unresponsive while sleeping in his arms. Upon being rushed to the hospital, it was discovered that she had head trauma and also had been anally raped, and was pronounced DOA. When the judge read out her post mortem report with its list of injuries during the arraignment, James reportedly broke down and wanted to talk to his mother. He was charged with felony murder, first-degree child abuse, and first-degree criminal sexual conduct in the slaying of his baby daughter.
James’s mother Aisha Saltmarshall says the system failed the little girl for neither her son nor his girlfriend were equipped to deal with a little baby and said that she had warned child services that harm might come to Janiyah when she was taken away from Aisha and handed back to her parents.
4 Eric Hummel: Shot & Killed His Daughter While Telling His Son “Not To Play With Guns”
Lake County resident Eric Hummel thought he was being a good dad and a responsible American when he showed off his gun to his twin 10-year-old sons, warning them that it was not a toy and was never to be played with. When his nine-year-old daughter Olivia walked in, he aimed at her and pulled the trigger, allegedly forgetting that he had loaded the gun. When the police arrived, Eric told the officers, “she’s dead. She’s f***ing dead!”
Apparently, Eric had unloaded the gun and pulled the trigger pointing it at the boys to scare them away for good and then he loaded it back. When Olivia walked in, Eric forgot that the bullets were back in and aimed at her head, shooting and killing her spot. Upon being arrested, Hummel called his wife and confessed, saying "I’m so sorry. It was so stupid." He is charged with reckless homicide, neglect of a child resulting in death, battery resulting in death, and two counts of child neglect.
3 Michael A. Jones: Tortured And Starved His Seven-Year-Old Son & Fed His Body To Pigs
When police were called to Michael A. Jones’ Kansas residence for a domestic disturbance, little did they expect the gruesome discovery they were about to make. Neighbors pointed out that Michael’s seven-year-old son Adrian hadn’t been seen for a while when Michael was arrested for aggravated assault and battery just a day before Thanksgiving in 2015. A search warrant was obtained and skeletal remains of a little child were found buried in the pig pen. DNA analysis later confirmed that it was Adrian and Michael confessed to having beaten him to death and feeding his emaciated remains to the pigs. He also admitted to starving and even tasering him during his short and tragic life. This was a veritable house of horrors where Michael lived with his wife Heather and eight other children ranging from just a year old to eleven years and authorities investigating the case called it the most gruesome find ever. Heather Jones, Adrian’s stepmother, was sentenced to life imprisonment with the possibility of parole in 25 years as was Michael Jones.
2 Timothy Jones: An Abusive Dad Who Killed All Five Kids After Getting Custody
In 2014, Timothy Jones had won over custody of all five children from his younger, sloppier, and abused wife who he often beat, because she was having an affair. Obviously, he was able to prove in court that he was the better and more stable parent. Well, unfortunately for his kids, their tragedy was just beginning. Bruises, beatings, excessive exercise, too little food, homeschooling, and an overly controlled atmosphere made life a total misery for Merah, Elias, Nahthan, Gabriel, and Elaine Marie aged eight, seven, six, two and one years old.
So finally, Timothy just decided to get rid of them, also because he believed that his little kids were going to kill him, chop him up, and feed him to the pigs. So “to save himself” he picked them up from daycare and then strangled four of them with his bare hands until they were dead and then beat the last one to death. He then placed the bodies in plastic bags and drove around for days before dumping their remains in a ditch.
1 Fayhan Al-Ghamdi: Doubted His 5-Year-Old Daughter’s Virginity So Decided To Rape & Torture Her
Frankly, if you are looking to equate the face of barbarism with a father, you just hit the motherlode. Fayhan Al-Ghamdi is a Saudi Arabian celebrity preacher who found his five-year-old daughter, Lama’s mannerisms and smiles too “flirtatious” and also suspected that she wasn’t a virgin anymore.
So he decided to punish her in a way even the most horrible of Riker inmates would find barbaric. Lama was beaten brutally to the point that her back was broken, paralyzing her, and she was raped and torn just everywhere, after which her open and wounded body was burned so as to “seal” in the wounds. She was admitted to the hospital in critical condition and her little, battered body and soul hung on in a coma for another eight months before she finally passed away. All her “father” received in lieu of this barbaric, brutal and sadistic behavior was eight years in prison and some 800 lashes – for Saudi laws dictate that no father can be punished for killing his child, and no husband for killing his wife.