Why Parents Kill

“The Sacrifice of Abraham” by Giovanni Beinaschi (c. 1636), Musee des Beaux-Arts de Brest, Source https://musee.brest.fr (PD-art, PD-old-70)

WARNING:  Graphic Images

  • In 1994, divorced mother, Susan Smith, deliberately drowned her two young sons [1]. First fabricating a story that she had been hijacked, Smith ultimately admitted having intentionally rolled her vehicle into a lake with Michael, 3 y.o., and Alex, 14 m.o., still in the backseat.  Smith claimed to be suicidal at the time.  However, testimony at trial revealed Smith’s desire to resume her relationship with a man who did not want children.
  • In 1997, Melissa Drexler, 18 y.o., gave birth in a bathroom stall at her prom, suffocated her newborn, and left the baby’s body in a trash can [2].
  • In 2002, Andrea Yates drowned all five of her young children in the bathtub [3]. Yates had been suffering from serious postpartum depression, and had made multiple suicide attempts.  She was ultimately found not guilty by reason of insanity.
  • Last year, Stephanie Adams, a former Playboy model, pushed her son, Vincent, 7 y.o., out a Manhattan hotel window to his death before jumping herself [4]. Adams was involved in a custody dispute with the boy’s father at the time.
  • Last month, Martin Pereira burned his daughter Zoey, 3 y.o., to death [5A]. Intent on committing suicide, Pereira had placed the child in the backseat of his vehicle, with gas cans in the vehicle and the rear doors chained shut.  Pereira, himself, escaped the blaze at the last moment.  He, too, was involved in a custody dispute.

The names change, but the story remains the same.

A study published in Forensic Science International found that as many as 500 children per year in the United States are killed by a parent [6].  This does not take into account abortions.

According to the Center for Judicial Excellence, about 60 of such children are killed by a parent who is separated and/or in the process of obtaining a divorce [5B].   Some 679 children were killed over the past 10 years in this category alone.

Why Parents Kill

There are a variety of reasons parents kill their children [7A].

Sometimes children are simply unwanted.  This is often the case with infants killed shortly after birth.  There may be shame associated with a birth out of wedlock.  Or children may be viewed as interfering with a relationship which is considered paramount.

“Almost 72% of those killed by their own parents were 6 years old or younger and one-third of the victims were just babies under 1 year old.”

-CheatSheet [7B]

A parent can feel overwhelmed, even suicidal.

This is sometimes linked to a distorted sense of altruism, with children killed “in their best interests”.  A parent intent on suicide is not likely to be thinking clearly, and may have difficulty envisioning a happy and successful life for his/her child.

There may be a problem of limited resources.  Or there can be genuine psychosis in the picture, with a parent having lost his or her grip on reality.

At the other extreme are cases in which children are killed as revenge against a spouse, or die as the consequence of severe abuse.

Abraham’s Sacrifice

The Bible tells us that the patriarch, Abraham, was stopped from sacrificing his son, Isaac, and instructed to sacrifice a ram God had supplied instead.  Indeed, the Bible is full of prohibitions against child sacrifice, though the practice was common among pagans at the time [8].

Inherent in these prohibitions is a recognition of the darkness of the human heart.  Human beings are prone to rationalization and self-justification.  They all too easily place blame for their actions on others…even the innocent children in their care.

Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord,
The fruit of the womb is a reward
” (Ps. 127: 3).

Children are sometimes viewed as property by the parents who bring them into this world or, in more modern terms, an extension of their parents’ ego.

But that is not God’s view.  Our children belong to God.  Wanted or unwanted, to Him they are priceless.

[1]  Life Death Prizes, “Mum killed her sons because they stood in the way of her new relationship” by Matt Davis, 7/25/17, https://www.lifedeathprizes.com/real-life-crime/reason-why-susan-smith-killer-her-children-23656.

[2]  National Enquirer, “Killer Prop Mom: The Real Reason Melissa Drexler Hid Her Pregnancy & Murdered Newborn” by Rosa Sanchez, 5/10/18, https://www.nationalenquirer.com/videos/killer-prop-mom-teen-baby/.

[3]  Wikipedia, “Andrea Yates”, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Andrea_Yates.

[4]  News Corps Australia Network, “Former Playboy model pushes seven-year-old son out of window before jumping herself”, 5/22/18, https://www.news.com.au/world/north-america/former-playboy-model-stephanie-adams-pushes-sevenyearold-son-out-of-window-before-jumping-herself/news-story/115f82b25534214ebc2332d9f261160b.

[5A and 5B]  NY Times, “A burning car with doors chained shut, and a 3-year-old victim, in Queens” by Ashley Southall and Kimiko de Freytas-Tamura, 5/7/19, https://www.nytimes.com/2019/05/06/nyregion/queens-car-fire-child-death.html.

[6]   Science Direct, Forensic Science International, “Toward a more holistic understanding of filicide:  a multidisciplinary analysis of 38 years of US arrest data”, Vol. 236, March 2014, https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0379073813005422.

[7A and 7B]  CheatSheet, “The Horrifying Reasons Parents Kill Their Children” by Lizz Shumer, 2/14/18,  https://www.cheatsheet.com/culture/horrifying-reasons-parents-kill-their-children.html/.

[8]  See, for instance, “And they built the high places of Baal…to cause their sons and their daughters to pass through the fire to Molech, which I did not command them, nor did it come into My mind that they should do this abomination…” (Jer. 32: 35).



Filed under Child Abuse, Christianity, Emotional Abuse, Law, Neglect, Physical Abuse, Religion

13 responses to “Why Parents Kill

  1. The ultimate in selfishness and I suppose abject perverse hatred. Heartnumbing.

  2. Another shocking post, why do they do this. Some people in cult religions do this too. Gross. Mercy on the souls of the children.

  3. Excellent post Anna. Proof positive as to how evil man can be apart from God.

  4. Oh, what a dark dark world!

  5. Shameful of Parents that Kill, they are satanic!!

    ( Exodus 20:13 KJV )”Thou shalt not kill.”!!

    ( Matthew 5:21 KJV ) “Ye have Heard that it was Said by them of Old Time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in Danger of the Judgment:”!!


    ( Deuteronomy 5:17 KJV ) “Thou shalt not kill.”!!

    “Happiness keeps You Sweet, Trials keep You Strong, Sorrows keep You Human, Failures keeps You Humble, Success keeps You Glowing, But Only GOD keeps You Going.”!! Amen-Amein Praise Christ-Messiah Jesus-Yeshua Hallelujah!!

    Love Always and Shalom, YSIC \o/

    Kristi Ann

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