There are few things more horrifying than the prospect of a child intentionally murdering their own family members. Such a crime is unthinkable for many reasons. We tend to imagine children as embodiments of innocence, and parents as unconditionally loving and supportive forces in their lives. Of course, this can be far from the truth – as evidenced from the following five cases of kids killing their parents.
Some of these cases are particularly cruel, detailing the murder of nurturing parents who in irony are killed by the very person they raised. In other instances, one can’t help but sympathise with the plight these children must have suffered before finally snapping. Read on to learn about the most shocking and notorious cases of children murdering their parents.
Gypsy Rose Blanchard
Gypsy Rose was making headlines long before she became known for the killing of her mother. The 23-year old had suffered a series of disabling health complication since she was a baby, resulting in a life of regular operations, breathing ventilators, daily medication and body braces. She was wheelchair bound, and was said to have a mental age several years behind her actual age.
Though she required constant care, her mother never showed anything but complete pride and love for Gypsy – whether it be through her blog, at motivational talks, or even on the Oprah Winfrey Show. Donations came pouring in from individuals and organisations that felt inspired by Gypsy’s moral strength and courage. All the while, Gypsy’s mother ‘Dee Dee’ was regarded as a wonderful mother who never left her daughter’s side. So why did Gypsy convince her secret boyfriend to murder her mother in her sleep?
The problem was that Gypsy Rose was never actually sick. After being arrested with the murder of her mother, the young woman shocked everyone in her life, as well as the law enforcers apprehending her, by standing up from her wheelchair and effortlessly walking upright. She was also able to speak with perfect clarity. For 23 years, Gypsy’s mother had experienced Munchausen-by-Proxy Syndrome, causing her to constantly find non-existing physical and mental illnesses in Gypsy.
Every operation, breathing device and pill was unnecessary – as was convincing Gypsy to act several years younger than her age. Not only had Dee Dee managed to fool every doctor to which Gypsy was taken, she also managed to fool Gypsy’s distant father and everyone in their community. Unsurprisingly, Gypsy snapped. Through a series of text messages, it is revealed that Gypsy persuaded her boyfriend (who suffered from mental illnesses) to stab Dee Dee to death one night. Once the deed was done, Gypsy updated her Facebook with a highly incriminating status; “the bitch is dead”. Gypsy is currently serving a ten-year prison sentence for second-degree murder, and is the subject of the recent documentary ‘Mommy Dead and Dearest’.
Lyle and Erik Menendez
Unlike in the case of Gypsy Rose, Lyle and Erik Menendez did not kill out of repressed anger from years of abuse. They killed their parents out of sheer greed. Born extremely wealthy, the two brothers had clear sociopathic profiles from early on in their childhood. Burglary, plagiarism, attempts at corruption and other crimes saw them both expelled from Princeton University. Deciding that working was not for them, they devised a simple and brutal plan for getting rich off their parent’s inheritance.
In 1989, the brothers entered their parents $4 million Beverly Hills mansion with a shotgun. First they shot their father point-blank in the head before turning to their mother who then shot in the arm, legs, chest and face. To the frustration of law enforcement, there was no substantial evidence that initially pointed toward the brothers having committed the murders. Lyle and Erik feigned shock and grief upon the ‘news’ of their parents’ murder. They suggested to detectives that it may have been a mob killing.
Believing they had got away with the perfect crime, Lyle and Erik made a tell-tale mistake. In just six months after having received their parents’ inheritance, the pair had spent over one million dollars between them. During a meeting with his psychologist, Erik admitted on tape that him and his brother had in fact been behind the murders. Despite Erik’s threats, the psychologist went to the police with a tape of the confession.
During the trial, Erik and Lyle’s lawyer claimed the brothers had shot their parents in response to years of sexual abuse from their father. The frivolous spending of Erik and Lyle following their parent’s death, however, indicated there was a clear other motive at play. In 1992, the brothers were charged with their parents’ murder and are currently serving life in prison.
Ernie Scherer was an adult when he slayed his wealthy parents for their inheritance. A relatively well-known figure in the poker circuit, the Mormon-raised poker pro had several championship titles to his name and impressive live tournament cashes to match. He was even a sponsored player by Full Tilt, one of the biggest poker sites at the time. Maintaining his lifestyle, however, cost considerably more than his success in poker could afford. With $100k in credit card debt, along with a $600k debt to his parents, the pressure was building up for the full-time gambler.
Self-centered and unfathomably greedy, Scherer devised a terrible plan. To solve his financial situation, he would murder his parents for the $2 million inheritance it would get him. One sunny afternoon, he visited his mother and father at their country club. After being greeted in, he proceeded to bludgeon his father to death with a baseball bat. Mortified, his mother tried to escape but failed to get away before Scherer turned on her with a knife.
In an attempt to make the murders look like a robbery turned wrong, Scherer knocked furniture around and made a general mess of the country home. The scene he tried to stage did not convince detectives, who noticed money and valuables lying around untouched. Realizing that Scherer was the murderer did not take long.
Not only did security footage capture his car entering the premises soon before the murders, a receipt left behind also shows that Scherer had recently purchased a baseball bat and shoes that matched the scene’s bloody footprints. His wife testified against him, confirming he was indeed absent during the time of his parent’s murder, and acted suspiciously upon arriving back home. Scherer is currently serving two life sentences.
One of the most uncomfortable things about this case is that 16-year old David Brom was a seemingly normal straight-A kid until the sudden attack on his parents – and to this day appears not to have had any motive at all. For whatever reason, Brom experienced a psychotic episode one night in his family’s Minnesotan suburb home. His parents and two younger siblings were found bludgeoned to death with an axe. The discovery of their bodies, however, wasn’t until the next afternoon – at which point Brom had already spent a whole day in school as if all was normal. He reportedly bragged to a classmate of the murders.
The only disagreement Brom is thought to have had with any of his family members was an argument with his father over the type of music Brom played – hardly an unusual tension between teenagers and parents. Though psychiatric records indicated Brom was depressed as a teenager, the jury did not buy his insanity plea – and the gruesome nature of the trail saw him tried as an adult. Brom is now spending three life sentences in prison. In his recent mugshots, he is seen smiling with sinister glee.
Esmie Tseng was a brilliant student and exceptional pianist, but she received no praise from her overly strict parents. Tseng would be psychologically abused if she failed to score anything other than the top grade on an exam or school project, and her possessions were taken away from her when she did not meet her parents’ impossible standards. To everyone else, the Tseng family appeared like a healthy, functional household in their middle-class American home. Esmie Tseng’s online blogs told a different story, however. Tseng dealt with an agonizing deal of repressed rage, confusion and feelings of hopelessness because of her parent’s abuse. Needless to say, she eventually snapped. Unfortunately, her breakdown took the shape of stabbing her mother to death in their own home.
Many of Tseng’s friends and neighbours showed support and sympathy for Tseng. They told of her intelligence and her struggles, highlighting that – although Tseng clearly dealt with anger issues – the murder was still out of character. Despite the fact that Tseng had claimed, prior to the murders, that she sometimes heard voices in her head – law enforcement insisted on trying her as a sane adult. She pleaded guilty to the charge of voluntary manslaughter and spent eight years in prison before being released in 2012. Today, she works as a news editor championing for fairer criminal trials.
Categorised in: Serial Killers
This post was written by Sophie J