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Explanation of parricide and why kids kill parents

Posted at 3:20 PM, Jun 10, 2021

Parricide is defined as the killing of a parent (mother or father) or another near relative such as a sister, brother, aunt, uncle, first cousin or in-laws.

NOTE: Some people confuse parricide with patricide, but the latter term refers only to the murder of one's father. Additionally, matricide refers to killing one's mother, fratricide refers to killing one's brother and sororicide refers to killing one's sister.

According to a 2019 study, parricide is the rarest type of murder.

The FBI said in 2017 that parricide accounts for about 2% of all homicide cases.

In 2017, there were a total of 15,129 murder victims in the United States. Among those victims, 169 were mothers and 186 were fathers who were killed by their children.

Parricide is also predominately committed by adult, middle-class, white males without any history of prior criminal acts. Parricides committed by females are very rare.

Additionally, parricides offenders are usually younger than the age of 30 but over the age of 18. And, there is usually some history of mental illness.

However, adolescent parent killers usually do not have a history of mental illness.

Motivation for parricide among adolescents is typically long-term abuse by parents.

Also, difficult relationships between parents and the offender are a common precursor of parricide.

A study in 2008 showed that daughters are more likely than sons to murder biological mothers and stepfathers.

There are three types of parricide offenders: severely abused, mentally ill and dangerously antisocial.

Dangerously antisocial individuals usually kill their parents because they see them as an obstacle to a goal or desire.

Some of the most famous parricide cases in history include:

Lizzie Borden
Borden allegedly murdered her father and stepmother with an ax in 1892.

Charles Whitman
Whitman, the former U.S. Marine who was responsible for the massacre at the University of Texas at Austin in 1966, killed his mother and wife before the massacre.

Ronald DeFeo (inspiration for "The Amityville Horror")
DeFeo killed six immediate family members, including his mother, father, two sisters and two brothers in 1974.

Lyle and Erik Menendez
The Menendez brothers were convicted of killing their parents in 1989 in order to inherit their money.

Sarah Johnson
Johnson, who was 16 at the time, killed her parents with a high-powered rifle because they disapproved of her older boyfriend.

Stacy Lannert
Lannert killed her father in 1990 because of alleged abuse.