Psychiatrist Phillip Resnick on Why Parents Kill Their Own Kids
On Jan. 27, Julie Powers, 50, a mother of two in Tampa, drove her 13-year-old son, Beau, home from soccer practice and allegedly shot him in the head "for talking back" to her. Then she went upstairs and shot Calyx, her 16-year-old daughter dead as she sat at her computer doing her homework, according to an arrest affidavit. At the time, her husband was serving in Qatar as an army colonel. Powers said her kids were "mouthy."
But what kind of parent would possibly murder her own children for mouthing off? TIME spoke with Dr. Phillip Resnick, director of forensic psychiatry at Case Western and a leading expert on parents who kill their children. He testified for the defense in the case of Andrea Yates, who was convicted in 2002 of drowning her five children in the bathtub. The murder conviction was later overturned and she was found to be not guilty by reason of insanity — as Resnick had argued.
Over the course of his 40-year career, Resnick has worked on 40 to 60 cases involving parents who killed their children. Although he cannot offer a mental diagnosis or legal opinion in the Powers' case, he can discuss the motivations of parents who kill and what we know about them. About 250 to 300 children are murdered by their parents each year.
Does this seem to be a typical case of a mother who kills her children?
It's aytpical. Younger children are much more likely to be killed than teenagers. ...