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Why Moms Kill Their Kids – More Supervised Vistation for Crazy Mothers!

Posted on: October 20, 2009

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Why moms kill their kids

By Christine Jindra

October 04, 2007, 5:06AM
Roadell Hickman Experts say mental illness, isolation, anger and fear can be triggers that lead to a mother killing a child. Prosecutors charged Amber Hill, right with head down, with aggravated murder after her two daughters were found drowned in a bathtub Monday. Hill appeared in Cleveland Municipal Court for arraignment Wednesday, represented by public defender Kathleen Demetz, center.

Researchers don’t know exactly how often mothers murder their children.

But they know some of the reasons why they do it.

Mental illness, isolation, anger and fear are behind what many consider the most wicked of crimes.

“They’re not freaks,” says Geoffrey McKee, a psychologist at the University of South Carolina’s medical school and author of “Why Mothers Kill: A Forensic Psychologist’s Casebook.”

Cheryl Meyer, a professor in the School of Professional Psychology at Wright State University in Dayton, agrees.

“I’ve met at least 40 women who’ve been convicted of killing their kids,” says the co-author of “When Women Kill: Interviews From Prison,” to be published this spring. I went into the room the way anybody would go into the room – expecting to see a monster. And what I saw was me. These were people just like me.”

On Tuesday, Amber Hill, 22, of Cleveland, was charged with two counts of aggravated murder after her two little girls were found drowned in the family’s bathtub. Court records show the father of the 2- and 4-year-old girls had been convicted of domestic violence twice for beating their mother.

A family member said the couple fought Monday and the girls’ father, Jaime Cintron, threatened to take the children from their mother. Then he headed to work. He told police the girls’ mother called him there at 12:30 Monday afternoon and told him the children were at peace.

Psychologists and psychiatrists declined to speculate on why a woman in Hill’s shoes might kill the children she doted on.

But they said motives in maternal filicide tend to fall into a few categories. Those include:

Altruism: These women, often severely depressed, believe their children are suffering or are in some type of pain and that they can help them by putting them out of their misery.

Psychosis: Moms in this category have a psychotic disease, such as schizophrenia. They may hear a voice that tells them to kill their child.

Unwanted children: This mom doesn’t want her children. Susan Smith, the South Carolina mom who strapped her two little boys into her car and rolled it into a lake is an example of this.

Maltreatment: The most common category is made up of child abusers who aren’t necessarily trying to kill their children, but do so in the course of physically abusing them.

Revenge: In these cases, the mother makes the father suffer by taking away what’s most important to him.

The moms, especially those who fall into the first two categories, are not evil, says Stephen Noffsinger, a forensic psychiatrist at University Hospitals Case Medical Center.

“When women kill in the context of serious mental illness, it is usually through no fault of their own. The parallel is diabetes or hypertension – chronic physical illnesses that cause long-term complications.”

In the other cases, Noffsinger says, substance abuse and personality disorders related to early childhood trauma, can play a role in the killings.

And, Meyer says, many of these moms feel they have no one to turn to for help.

“These are women who, whether real or imagined, have no support at all,” Meyer says.

“There are exceptions, but there aren’t very many. In almost 100 percent of the cases, you can see that the woman had no support. And she was at the end. She didn’t have anybody to rely on and just lost it.”

When women outside of prison hear about Meyer’s research, they tell her their own stories of how they tried to kill their kids.

One, a 60-year-old nurse, confessed to mixing a lethal dose of medicine into the ice cream that she was about to feed her children. The woman had quit her job to raise her children and her husband had just admitted to an affair. He told her he was leaving her, had emptied their bank accounts and would fight for custody of the children.

As she was carrying the ice cream to her children, the phone rang. It was her minister. He had heard she’d been having a hard time and wanted to know if she needed help.

He saved her kids’ lives.

“Since I’ve been doing this research, which is a long time, I really have lost count of the number of women who have come up to me and said, ‘I tried to do this one time,’¤” Meyer says.

“I hear these stories all the time. The bottom line for me is ‘there but for the grace of God go I.’

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