CW: Murder, Abuse, & Neglect:
One of the most heinous types of crime is filicide, which occurs when a parent kills their child. Among developed countries, the United States has the highest rate of child murder. The most common perpetrator of child homicide is a parent. In the United States, parents who have killed their children account for about 2.5% of all homicide arrests. Each year, approximately 500 filicide arrests are made.
Filicide is unfortunately common among parents of disabled children. According to one study conducted by The University of California, Irvine, 26 disabled children were identified as victims of filicide-suicide in 22 news articles published between 1982 and 2010. 81% of the children slain were boys. 54% of them were also autistic. Filicide occurs among children with a variety of different diagnoses.
Last month Lauren Kay Dean pled guilty to the murder of Jordynn Barrera, 7, and was sentenced to life in prison. Court records show Dean pleaded guilty on October 5. Jordynn was nonverbal and had Cerebral Palsy and Down Syndrome. She was also fed through a feeding tube.
On January 30, 2020, a complaint was filed that Dean left her three children alone at home to go to Shade’s Bar in Bay City, TX. A welfare check was conducted at the family’s apartment in the 2200 block of Bordeaux by Bay City police. According to investigators, Dean allowed an officer into the residence to show them that the children were fine, but Jordynn was found dead.
According to records, Dean was detained in the Matagorda County Jail after being charged with three second-degree felonies. The charges were abandonment, endangering a child, and imminent bodily injury. There were also two additional kids in the house, who were three months and five years old, respectively.
In another case, long-term neglect led to a disabled teenager’s death. In May 2020, Jordan Brooks, a 17-year-old boy from Oswego County, New York, who had Cerebral Palsy passed away. Jordan’s mother and stepfather, Lisa and Anthony Waldron are accused of neglecting him for years. According to authorities, he died of malnourishment and sepsis. His bones were exposed, and he had developed bedsores. His wheelchair was rusted, urine-stained, and moldy.
As a person with Cerebral Palsy, these cases are heartbreaking. Jordan and Jordynn should be alive. Parents should love their children unconditionally. Parents should have access to resources to help their children. Unfortunately, many systems are ineffective.
For example, in the United States, many people with disabilities have been on waiting lists for services provided by Medicaid. The wait can often be a decade or more. Medicaid can provide in-home nursing care, attendant care, therapy, and respite, among other services. For many families, this support is crucial. It can mean that their disabled child lives at home rather than in an institutional setting.
Jordynn and Jordan will never celebrate another holiday, birthday, or graduate from high school. There is no excuse for abusing, neglecting, or killing disabled people. Our lives are valuable, and we deserve to live life to the fullest like anybody else.
Benny, Michael. “Accountability in the Death of Jordan Brooks, Oswego County Teen with Cerebral Palsy.” WSTM, WSTM, 29 Mar. 2022, https://cnycentral.com/news/local/accountability-in-the-death-of-jordan-brooks.
Coorg, Rohini, and Anne Tournay. “Filicide-suicide involving children with disabilities.” Journal of child neurology vol. 28,6 (2013): 745-51. doi:10.1177/0883073812451777
Diament, Michelle. “Waiting Lists May Be Eliminated for Disability Services Provided by Medicaid.” Disability Scoop, Disability Scoop, 22 Mar. 2021, https://www.disabilityscoop.com/2021/03/22/waiting-lists-may-be-eliminated-for-disability-services-provided-by-medicaid/29252/.
Helling, Steve. “Texas Mom Who Left 7-Year-Old Bedridden Daughter Alone so She Could Party Gets Life Sentence for Murder.” PEOPLE, Dotdash Meredith, 11 Oct. 2022, https://people.com/crime/texas-mom-who-left-bedridden-daughter-by-leaving-her-alone-gets-life-sentence/.
Resnick, Phillip J. “Filicide in the United States.” Indian journal of psychiatry vol. 58,Suppl 2 (2016): S203-S209. doi:10.4103/0019-5545.196845