He will wipe every tear from their eyes.
There will be no more death or mourning
or crying or pain, for the old order of
things has passed away.
Revelation 21:4 (NIV)

Murder of Autistics

This is the most difficult page to write on my site. The reason it is difficult is that these atrocities are still happening today - autistics are being killed simply because they are autistic. I'm sorry, but these pages will be hard for anyone who has respect for the lives of autistics to read. There is simply no way to present this subject without causing pain - especially in those who relate to the dead. But this subject must be presented, and I must write about it, in the hope that even one murder could be prevented by the words here.

Some of the autistics mentioned were intentionally killed, with the desired result by the murderers being death of the autistic. Others were killed as a result of gross negligence, neglect, failure to follow proper medical protocols, medical experimentation without proper oversight, or attempts to "cure" autism using untested and dangerous methods (for the record, autism has no cure).

This page may be very difficult to read, especially for those who who have survived restraint or abuse. I'm sorry for any pain it causes to these readers.

I will also warn the reader that I do not attempt to relate to, condone, or otherwise understand the emotions of the murderers. Their acts can not be justified, nor will they be justified on this site.

In Loving Memory...

This page is dedicated to those autistics who were killed because they were autistic, including:

Casey Albury (Age 17, died 1997)
Angelica Auriemma (Age 20, died 5 Dec. 2003)
Dale Bartolome (Age 27, died 29 July 2002)
Charles-Antoine Blais (Age 6, died Nov. 1996)
Eric Bland (Age 38, 2004)
Jeffrey Bogrett (Age 9, died 1 Dec. 1995)
Gabriel Britt (Age 6, died 3 March 2001)
Casey Collier (Age 17, died 21 Dec. 1993)
Maggie Caraballo (Age 38, died 20 Aug. 2003)
Jonathan Carey (Age 13, died February 2007)
Terrance Cottrell, Jr. (Age 8, died 22 Aug. 2003)
James Joseph Cummings, Jr. (Age 46, died 16 Nov. 1999)
Jason Dawes (Age 10, died Aug. 2003)
Christopher DeGroot (Age 19, died 19 May 2006)
Brahim Dukes (Age 18, died 29 Dec. 2001)
Marcus Fiesel (Age 3, died August 2006)
Lillian Leilani Gill (Age 4, died March 2002)
Matthew Goodman (Age 14, died 6 Feb. 2002)
Jim Helm (died 1998)
Stephanie Jobin (Age 13, died 17 June 1998)
Daniel Leubner (Age 13, died 4 Sept. 1999)
Katherine McCarron (Age 3, died 13 may 2006)
Patrick Markcrow (Age 36, died 29 March 2005)
Justin Malphus (Age 5, died 19 April 2000)
Charles Mancill (Age 24, died 13 Feb. 2002)
Sean Miles (Age 37, died 2 May 2006)
Abubakar Nadama (Age 5, died 23 Aug. 2005)
Mark Owens-Young-Rogan (Age 11, died 17 Sept. 2001)
Pierre Pasquiou (Age 10, died 28 Dec. 1998)
Tiffany Pinckney (Age 23, died 2 April 2005)
Michael Renner-Lewis (Age 15, died 25 Aug. 2003)
Nozomu Shinozaki (Age 22, died 25 Feb. 2003)
Craig Sorger (Age 12, died 15 Feb. 2003)
Ulysses Stable (Age 12, died 22 Nov. 2006)
Tanaka (Age 14, died 24 July 2002)
Matthew Vick (Age 23, died 25 May 2002)
Wayne Winter (Age 39, died 15 Jan. 2001)
Willie Wright (Age 15, died 4 March 2000)

When these lives were taken from the world, some of the world's beauty and wonder was taken with them. We have lost that beauty and wonder forever.

Sentences Received

In most cases, the courts have found the parents, doctors, or care-givers who caused the death of these autistics guilty. However, it is only rarely for murder, and sentences tend to be very light. (note that I do not have sentencing information for all the murders on this page) For example:

  • Casey Albury's Mother - 5 months, manslaughter (Casey was strangled)
  • Dale Bartolome's Father - committed suicide (Dale was shot)
  • Charles-Antoine Blais's Mother - 23 month suspended sentence - 1 year in halfway house, no jail time served (Charles was drowned)
  • Eric Bland's Sister - 43 years, murder and dependent abuse (Eric starved to death)
  • Gabriel Britt - Father: 10 years, suspended to 4 years with 5 months probation and credit for time served, Unlawful Conduct Toward a Child; Mother: no penalty (Gabriel was beaten and then suffocated)
  • Casey Collier's facility - No significant sanctions of any sort - note that another restraint death in this facility in 1999 (Casey died of suffocation while being restrained face-down in a way which prevented him from breathing)
  • Terrance Cottrell Jr's "minister" - 2.5 years prison, 7 1/2 years extended supervision, $1,200 restitution, Physical Abuse of a Child (Terrance died of suffocation while being sat upon by the minister during a prayer service to "release him from demons")
  • James Joseph Cummings, Junior's Father - 5 years, manslaughter (James was stabbed to death)
  • Jason Dawes's Mother - 5 years "good behavior bond" (similar to US probation, no jail time), manslaughter (Jason was strangled)
  • Christopher DeGroot's parents - trial is still in progress, each parent is charged with one count of murder (Christopher was burned to death)
  • Brahim Dukes's Stepmother - trial is still in progress for a lesser charge, although a jury found her not guilty of first degree murder (Brahim was starved)
  • Matthew Goodman's care-givers - Fines for abuse, neglect, and leaving Matthew in restraints unattended; no criminal charges, however (Matthew Goodman died as a result of receiving too much medication and being improperly restrained)
  • Marcus Fiesel's foster parents - His foster mother was found guilty of murder, involuntary manslaughter, kidnaping, felonious assault, and three charges of endangering a child. She was sentenced to life in prison, with the possibility of parole in 15 years. His foster father's trial is still in progress. (Marcus was locked into a hot closet for two days while his foster parents left for a family reunion)
  • Lillian Leilani Gill's Mother - 14 years in prison on charges of voluntary manslaughter, burglary, and willful harm to a child, along with $10,000 in restitution plus 4 years of probation (Lillian was strangled, after which her mother told investigators she was in Italy)
  • Stephanie Jobin's care-givers - While an inquest was held, this was not a court trial and did not result in any judgment against the home (Stephanie died from suffocation after being restrained under a beanbag and the weight of several care-givers)
  • Daniel Leubner's Mother - 6 years in prison and $210 surcharge, Arson 2 and Manslaughter 1 (Daniel burned to death in his home as a result of an intentionally set fire)
  • Katherine McCarron's Mother - Trial still in progress, the mother entered a plea of "not guilty" to the charges of 1st degree murder, obstructing justice, and concealing a homicide (Katie was smothered)
  • Justin Malphus's Mother - Life + 60 years in prison, murder; social workers faced 15 and 20 day suspensions due to improperly investigating Justin's circumstances prior to his murder (Justin was drowned)
  • Patrick Markcrow's Mother - 2 years suspended sentence (as long as she is on "good behavior" basically, she won't have to actually serve that time), Manslaughter (Patrick was poisoned and then suffocated with a plastic sack)
  • Sean Mile's Killers - minimum of 14 to 17 years each in prison for three criminals (Sean was manipulated to come to the home of one of the killers, where he was beat with golf clubs, stripped, and thrown into a river to drown)
  • Abubakar Nadama's Physician - none although the state has filed 6 disciplinary charges against him for "unprofessional conduct;" none are considered criminal charges (Abubakar suffered a heart attack while undergoing a dangerous and unnecessary medical procedure to cure his autism)
  • Pierre Pasquiou's Mother - 3 year suspended sentence (Pierre was drowned)
  • Mark Owens-Young-Rogan's Mother - committed suicide (Mark's mother jumped off a bridge with him)
  • Nozomu Shinozaki killers - 4 plea bargained to manslaughter while charges were dropped against 5 others (Nozomu was beaten during a session of vigilante justice)
  • Craig Sorger's killers - One plead guilty to second degree murder and received 14.5 years, another was found guilty of first degree murder and sentenced to 26 years (he was beat and stabbed after being asked to come play with the killers)
  • Tanaka's Father - 3 year suspended sentence, no time served (Tanaka was strangled)
  • Matthew Vick's Group Home - Contract was canceled by the State of Texas; no criminal charges (Matthew died as a result of improper restraint)
  • Willie Wright's care-givers - no consequences of any kind (Willie died due to the way he was restrained in a mental hospital)

Out of the cases mentioned here, only six received a significant sentence when compared to those received by people found guilty of murdering an neurotypical child. Many did not serve any jail time, and others felt no consequences at all for their actions. For comparison, I searched for murders of non-autistic children, and picked the first 5 I saw that did not involve sexual assault (note that some of the autistics murdered were not children, although most were):

  • A Johannesburg South African man was jailed for 8 years for simply planning the murder of his child
  • Megan Dail's murderer, a drunk driver, was sentenced to life+26 months for causing an accident which killed 4 year-old Megan
  • Ashley Smithson's Mother's boyfriend was sentenced to life without parole for beating 2 year-old Ashley to death
  • Nahaman Carmona Lopez, a 13 year old Guatemalan street kid, was murdered by 4 police officers who kicked him to death. The four officers were sentenced to 12 years imprisonment and ordered to pay a total of 20,000 Quetzales to the boy's mother
  • Kennedy McFarlane's Mother's boyfriend was sentenced to life in prison for beating 3 year-old Kennedy to death.

The obvious conclusion is awful. A man who planned on murdering his child or who got into a car accident after drinking faces years in prison while parents who planned and executed the murder of their children get off without any jail time, simply because their children happened to be autistic.

But what about the parents...

I've actually been criticized as insensitive and heartless for caring about the autistics that are dying at the hands of people who are supposed to care for them. The person saying this is usually trying to change my focus from the child who is dead to the parent who didn't have enough support. While I realize there is a legitimate need for support, and parents do not often receive as much they need (especially respite care), the same excuse has been used by parents who murdered neurotypical children. For instance, a single parent will be raising three or four neurotypical children. One day, he will snap and murder his children. He then spends the rest of his life in jail, despite his pleas that trying to raise a family on his own, while working 50 hours a week, cleaning a house, and making meals is very difficult work and that he lacked the necessary support. He still gets life in prison. Yet if he adds one word - "disabled" - when talking about his child, he has immediate sympathy for his actions. A murderer of a neurotypical child rarely has an acceptable justification for a jury - regardless of the murderer's mental state. I ask for the same treatment for murderers of autistics - just because the child isn't as presentable doesn't mean the murder is any less awful.

Parents have criticized me for not understanding their struggle. I will admit that I can't fully appreciate what it is like to raise an autistic child, as I haven't done that. But I do believe parents deserve a lot of credit and have a difficult job. A difficult job isn't justification for murder, though.

Child molesters have used the argument that they have a chemical imbalance in their brain which causes a deviant sex drive. They have claimed that these are some of the strongest emotions a person can face. Yet few child molesters have met public sympathy, despite there being some psychological evidence that there may be some truth to their statements. The courts, world-wide, have consistently stated that there are other outlets for those impulses, other ways of expressing them, and ways of receiving help for them. Courts do not generally believe a child molester when he says he had no choice but to do the sexual act. Nor should they, scientific evidence here is on the side of the court, even if there is some truth in what the molesters say. The same goes for murder, especially premeditated murder, where the killer planned well in advance. There are other outlets for frustration over lack of support. There is always a way out other then murder - perhaps family, perhaps friends, perhaps a church, perhaps the state. In civilized countries, the state is obligated to ensure the safety of children - so placing the child under state care is an option for those living in civilized countries (and even if this is a bad option, it is less likely to be permanent and is also a better option than death).

Mercy Killing

Another excuse often used to justify murder of autistics is that the autistic will never have a high quality of life - he'll be confined to an institution, he won't be able to communicate, and he won't even be able to experience the emotions of joy, happiness, and love.

This is simply not true. Some people, autistic and neurotypical both, go through life generally unhappy. But being autistic does not sentence you to that life, no matter how "low functioning" you are. Even the lowest functioning person can enjoy life, although it may look differently then what someone else would enjoy, and it may even be a life that few others would enjoy.

As for the confinement issue, it is possible for even very low functioning adult autistics - without speech or toilet skills even - to live in the community. But, even if someone is confined to an institution, this is not sufficient reason to kill them. Where the person loses quality of life due to confinement, the confinement is the problem to be addressed if you wish to improve quality of the autistic's life. Murder doesn't address the true problems. While you could kill a person who has a cold, and that would end their suffering due to their cold, a more appropriate method is to provide them medical assistance, rest, plenty of fluids, and compassion. We should aim to solve the problems facing autistics, not eliminate the autistics themselves.

The excuse that "I am preventing suffering by killing the child" is a poor one. No person can know what is ahead for a child. Even those who believe there is a qualitative difference in quality of life between low functioning and high functioning person (I don't believe this) must realize that this line is less clear then they would like. For instance, I didn't speak until I was nearly 5. I know other autistics who didn't speak until their teenage years, and yet others that could speak years ago but do not today. Many of them enjoy life, and none of them would wish someone else to decide to take their lives to "spare them the miseries of the world". Murder is not done out of love, but out of a desire to impose one's own opinions on another, hatred, or selfishness. It is often an expression of prejudice.

Less Valuable Life

While it is rarely spoken of directly, society's view on the murder of mentally disabled persons is that mentally disabled persons are less valuable. Even the disabled community contributes to this, with statements such as a blind man saying, "I'm a person - I still have my mind!" (implying that not having a neurotypical mind makes a someone less of a person). But it is worst outside the disabled community. When a drunk driver, who does not plan the result that occurs, is sent to jail for life after killing a innocent child, surely a parent who plans a murder of her child should also get the same sentence. The drunk driver may claim that his mind was impaired and his judgment cloudy because of the alcohol, but the court will respond that there was a way out - he simply should not have drove. Murder of autistic children does not need to occur. Society isn't forcing mothers and fathers to kill their own children, although it does tell those parents that their actions, while a bit wrong, were justifiable (for the most egregious example of this, Danielle Blais received a job with the Quebec Autism Society after murdering her child).

Murder is wrong, because life is valuable. Neurotypical life is valuable. Autistic life is valuable. In many places, though, there are stricter penalties for cruelty to animals then cruelty to an autistic. I know of no place where someone who caused great pain to a dog, in ways that would be considered torture by most people, and eventually killing the dog would not face criminal charges. Yet it is not unusual for a murderer of an autistic to face no charges. For instance, if I told you that I tied a dog on a table in such a way as to immobilize him, in such a way as to prevent him from fully breathing, while I listened to his sounds of terror and pain, and eventually watched him die, I would expect you to consider me a horribly cruel person. In fact, I hope you would - anyone who would do this to an animal is a cruel person. Yet there have been autistics who have died in identical ways. It is a very cruel death to die from suffocation while restrained. Many of those killed even cried out that they couldn't breathe, but their complaints were dismissed (with words like, "If you can talk, you can breathe," which isn't true when using restraints). And they died this horrible death at the hands of those who were supposed to be caring for them. I am aware of several incidents where the autistic came close to death or even died while being restrained, including some that I mention on this page, but I am aware of none where charges - or even disciplinary actions - were made against those that caused the death - despite the normally higher accountability medical practitioners are held to. It turns out that those society considers disabled or mentally ill not worthy of the same respect as those who are considered "normal". In fact, they are often not even worthy of the same amount of respect as a dog.

Horrible Deaths

Regarding the victims mentioned here, only two could have died instantly. The others were strangled, drowned, starved, or bleed to death after being stabbed. In each of these, there would have been horrible fear in each of the victims as someone who was entrusted with their proper care, and, in many cases, loved by the victim, caused horrendous pain. These methods of murder do not show mercy - they are among some of the most gruesome methods of inflicting death. In fact, with some of these murders, the murderer failed with the first and, sometimes, even the second known attempt to kill the child. Yet this is a not unusual - few murders of children don't cause horrible pain and fear, so this should not be surprising.

Support for Parents

Parents do need support. Saying that murder is wrong does not contradict that statement. In criminal cases, it is just and right to hope for a sentence that is not weaker simply because of the social standing of the victim.

Some parents believe that this weakens their position with regard to the current level of services. This is not true. Rather then justifying evil actions, we need good parents and care-givers to engage in political action, showing that autistic life is valuable and worthy of support is the pressing need. We do not serve the cause when we support sentencing that weakens the value of autistic life.

A Word on "One-Sidedness"

I have received several complaints about this site being one-sided in it's presentation of facts on these murder cases. Please feel free to send me information about murders of autistics where the victim's memory was respected through proper sentencing. I have tried to include all cases where the person would not have been killed if the he was neurotypical, regardless of whether that case supports my statements or not. All these deaths need to be remembered. I encourage and support anyone who feels the need to do their own research to verify the facts. I ask only that, before my statements are dismissed, that you do verify the facts. If you believe I am being one-sided by being selective about the cases I present, I ask you to do that research - for your own peace of mind. I also hope that you will send me information on murders that were not included here, so that I can remember the victim by adding him to this site.

Additions

If you are aware of a murder where the victim was killed because he/she was autistic, I would like to include the victim's name on this page, as a memorial. Please send mail to joel@thiswayoflife.com, with the victim's name, age at time of death (if available), and the date the victim died (if available). Because of the serious nature of this page, I ask that you provide any documentation you have that substantiates the claim of murder.

Other Sites About Murder and Abuse of Disabled People

Other web sites have also documented the devaluation of the lives of autistics and others with disabilities. Note that some of these sites may be very difficult to read for those who have been exposed to abuse in the past.

  • Children Injured by Restraints and Adversives - A parents' organization dedicated to preventing abuse of restraints.
  • Deadly Restraint - A special feature created by the Hartford Courant newspaper. Documents several deaths due to restraint by "professionals". It also includes a database of deaths caused by restraint.
  • Linda Cornelison's Death - This death occurred in 1990. While Linda was not autistic, she was labeled as mentally retarded. People labeled as such often face similar kinds of abuse and torture that autistics face. It is shocking that this facility continues operations today, focusing on autistic individuals in addition to persons labeled mentally retarded. In fact, many consider it one of the premier autism treatment facilities in the United States.
  • The Meaning of 'Murderer' - Discussion of Jack Kevorkian's murder of a person with disability, and his argument that it was simply a "medical service"
  • Murder of Autistic Persons - Another site that details the murders of autistics, and includes additional information on deaths in institutions, group homes, schools, etc.
  • Not Dead Yet - A disability-rights organization which opposes euthanasia
  • United States of Leland - The Sub-human Life - A critique of the movie United States of Leland in which an autistic murder victim is used as a plot device to obtain sympathy for the killer.

Links About Murders of Disabled During the Holocaust

The first persons killed in the holocaust were "mentally ill" persons (note that there was not a separate diagnosis of autism at the time, so exact numbers are unavailable) who, according to Hitler and his doctors, were unfit for life. The reasons used during the holocaust are the same reasons being used today to justify the murderers of autistics. These killings preceded the other horrible atrocities in Germany, possibly because they were more palatable to the population.

Links About Specific Murders

There are many reports on-line of the murders of autistics. A few of them are listed below.

Corrections

Every effort has been made to validate sources before including names or events on this page. However, if you feel any of this information is in error, I ask for you to send mail to joel@thiswayoflife.com. Please include any documentation available to you.

Thank You

I want to thank A M Baggs for the help with proofreading this site and helping me research these cases.

I also want to thank the parents, who, after learning of their child's autism and dealing with the stresses of raising someone who is different, continued to show love and compassion for their children as they came to terms with a child who wasn't what they expected, but who was wonderful and precious. I thank my parents for allowing me to experience life, and didn't take what would have been an easy way out.