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Why Do Mothers Kill? The Link Between Mom And Murderer

Why Do Mothers Kill? The Link Between Mom And Murderer

Camden Pierce Hughes

Boston Globe via YellowBrix

CHELMSFORD, MA – The grim discovery of 6-year-old Camden Pierce Hughes lying dead on the side of a road in southern Maine and the subsequent arrest of his mother, Julianne McCrery, under suspicion of murder have attracted widespread attention and outrage. In fact, yesterday’s news of the 42-year-old woman’s capture at a rest stop in Chelmsford, Massachusetts may have eclipsed President Obama’s visit to Boston as the lead story of the day and evening.

If only such cases were as rare as they should be. Regrettably, nearly 100 children ages 5-7 are murdered annually in the United States, and about 20% of these young victims are murdered by their mothers. And this is just the top end of a much larger cluster: There are, on average, about 180 children ages 7 and younger who are murdered each year at the hands of the woman who brought them into the world. That’s about one mother-perpetrated infanticide every other day.

It is difficult for most of us to fathom how someone could kill their flesh and blood, especially a victim so young and innocent. Motherhood is supposed to be about nurturing, not murdering. The motives for such crimes vary from the pathological to the pathetic.

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Julianne McCrery

Some murdering moms act out of depression and despair, believing that their child will be better off living in heaven than suffering on earth. In March 2002, Andrea Yates of Houston, Texas, drowned her five children, ranging in age from 6 months to 7 years old, in a frenzied religious hallucination. The jury was convinced of her impaired mental state and returned a verdict of not guilty by reason of insanity.

Of course, not all murdering moms garner as much compassion as Yates, particularly those who act out of pure selfishness. In 1994, Susan Smith of South Carolina drowned her two sons in a lake, and then told the police and the press that the young boys had been taken by a stranger during a carjacking. Apparently, she did it for love — not love for her children, but to hold onto a boyfriend who would have nothing to do with her so long as her children were around. Plus, for Smith, playing the role of a grieving mother would make her more sympathetic and appealing.

Sympathy-getting can indeed be a powerful driving force, an irresistible motivator for some people. At the extreme, Marybeth Tinning of Schenectady, New York killed her nine children, one-by-one over a period of fourteen years, to feed her craving for emotional support. With each new birth and each subsequent death of a child, Marybeth remained at the center of attention.

Based on preliminary reports related to McCrery’s depressed mental state and early speculation concerning motive, this case would appear to involve what has been called “suicide by proxy.” A recurring theme identified in cases of infanticide is for a suicidal parent to kill his or her child out of a warped sense that they both will be better off together in the afterlife. In some occasions, the parent succeeds in ending the child’s life, but ultimately fails to complete the final phase of the plan when their own survival instinct prevails.

In the weeks and months ahead, we will learn more about Julianne McCrery and what may have compelled her to kill, as it is alleged, the son to whom she seemed so devoted. Whatever her role in the child’s death and whatever forces were upon her, most people will continue to be perplexed concerning how love transform into the will to kill.


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    OlympicJoy

    over 3 years ago

    374 Comments

    Bump MarineMPSpecReac.

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    MarineMPSpecReac

    over 3 years ago

    230 Comments

    I don't know how many of you are religious and I know we all have our own beliefs, but anything evil in this world i.e. whether done wholly sane or insane is a result of sin in the world it is a cancer that touches and affects everything and no matter how hard we may try to effect a world based on our own moral code . . . we will never achieve that without Christ. Sin is in the spiritual DNA of every human born and it affects us all including those of us who wear or have worn a badge.

    The only salvation from the evil we do from what I have seen is and always will be Jesus Christ period.

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    MarineMPSpecReac

    over 3 years ago

    230 Comments

    OlympicJoy I agree with your comments.

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    OlympicJoy

    over 3 years ago

    374 Comments

    Rest in peace, buddy. Camden, your mommy may not have loved you, but we do. Rest in peace.

    MockTertl, abortion is murder. It is not a part of the woman's body, a fetus has different DNA from the moment of conception. Most fetus' hearts have begun to beat before the mother even knows she is pregnant. There is no difference.

    Ditto mtjapkes.

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    Anonymous

    over 3 years ago

    I don't know what her reason was or how she killed him. Bottomline is she killed her beautiful baby boy and threw him out on the side of a country road like garbage to be ripped apart by wild animals. She is a disgusting person. I don't care if she's mentally ill-she's a monster. This little boy had the extreme misfortune of being born to a mother like her, instead of to a mother and father who would have cherished his every breath. Rest in Peace, sweet angel. You are loved by so many who never had the pleasure of knowing you~ <3

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    Whalewatcher

    over 3 years ago

    11322 Comments

    I ride a rollercoaster of emotions here, going from one great story ( the return of the money by the new homeowner ) to this one. For the life of me, I just don't understand why this happens so much. I couldn't bring myself to watch the video attached to this story; he's such a cute kid, and to think of how he ended up infuriates me. Sorry if I babbled on too much, folks.

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    MockTertl

    over 3 years ago

    248 Comments

    I do not condone murder in any way ... and this child hardly deserved this kind of treatment ... I don't think any mercy should be bestowed upon the mother no matter her "excuse" ... there were most likely signs that are always overlooked or unrecognized ... leading to this unfortunate incident.

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    MockTertl

    over 3 years ago

    248 Comments

    @mtjapkes: as a survivor of childhood trauma inflicted on my by my parents _ I WISH MY MOM WOULD HAVE HAD AN ABORTION! IT WOULD HAVE SAVED ME A LIFETIME OF HARDSHIP, STRUGGLE AND PTSD! I count myself lucky as a survivor since I am beyond it and successfully broke the chain of abuse - but I hear from so many that don't ... the loss of a mother, in any form, is devastating. If the mother is so inclined to get an abortion, chances are that child is better off!

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    mtjapkes

    over 3 years ago

    2 Comments

    I would ask how many of the commentators on this page would feel the same way about abortion as that is the exact same thing. A CHILD being KILLED by his/her MOTHER.

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    informative

    over 3 years ago

    30 Comments

    they made it legal for parents to simply drop an unwanted child at any hospital so All the excuses are gone. They need to stop giving them the mental illness exemption. Most people know when they are growing ill and can simply drop the kid off safely

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    MockTertl

    over 3 years ago

    248 Comments

    @klcardwell: HIT THE NAIL SQUARE ON THE HEAD

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    MockTertl

    over 3 years ago

    248 Comments

    This is sad, truly sad, but on the other end, coming from someone who has grown up under the roof of a sociopath, psychotic mother .. he is probably better of instead of living his entire life in distress ... so sad these people are even allowed to breed in the first place. I am a lucky one to have survived - physically.

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    OS441

    over 3 years ago

    1038 Comments

    Some do it because if they are divorced, they are afraid of their ex-husband getting custody because they know how terrible of a parent they are. It's a fear I am dealing with daily.

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    Anonymous

    over 3 years ago

    Oh, I don't know....extreme narcissism, self pity, selfishness, stress of child rearing, blurring of gender identities, homicidal infatuation with themselves, belief that they are smarter than everyone else, not living the storybook life.....you know, the usual stuff.

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    DonnaD

    over 3 years ago

    12 Comments

    This was very sad to read, as a women who is unable to have children, I say if you don't want your kids than just give them to someone who does. I would have loved this little boy so much. I would love to be on this jury and watch this woman be sent to prison or be put to the death. This makes me sick to know that there are actually women out there who would kill their own children. I too would like to know WHY??Like I have said, If you don't want your children than give them away. .

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