Friday, January 29, 2010

Psychosis: She used her stove to light a blanket on fire in an attempt to kill her boy

Whenever you hear a story of a mother killing her children, know that the reason is almost certainly the woman's untreated mental illness. No rational-thinking mom would ever try to harm her kids. It's not a byproduct of punishment or selfishness. It's a byproduct of severe psychosis.

There was a story today out of Las Vegas, in which a mother tried to kill her son. Fortunately, a heroic neighbor intervened and saved the boy's life:
A southwest valley condo resident is being called a hero for saving the life of a six -year-old boy whose mother was trying to kill him.

A fire broke out on Wednesday afternoon at the West Tropicana Condominiums near Trop and Decatur. A neighbor, Brian Morace and his wife (pictured above) saw the fire and Morace went in despite the objections of the boy's mother. Once inside the smoke-filled condo, he rescued the boy, but suffered smoke inhalation.

The 36-year-old mother suffered second and third-degree burns. Police say the woman used her stove to light a blanket on fire in an attempt to kill the boy. The woman, who also has a history of mental illness is expected to face charges of arson and attempted murder.

I'm not sure if parenticide is always due to untreated mental illness. But I would suspect it mostly is. The Examiner today reports one such case out of San Diego:
Heather D'Aoust was 14 when she attacked her adoptive mother with a claw hammer in their Scripps Ranch home May 25, 2008.

During the attack, she struck her mother Rebecca D'Aoust, a school teacher and counselor, at least 25 times. The victim died the next day of head injuries sustained during the assault.

D'Aoust, who has a history of mental illness, professes to not knowing why she did it and said as much during Wednesday's sentencing for the crime in San Diego County Superior Court.

Now 16, she was sentenced to 16 years-to-life in state prison for second-degree murder and assault with a deadly weapon. She pleaded guilty in December 2009

San Diego County District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis called it a "tragic case for everyone involved."

When her adoptive father came to his wife's aid, she attacked him too.

Though the defendant professed not knowing why she killed to her sentencing judge, Superior Court Judge Michael Wellington, she told a San Diego County Probation Officer that she had planned to kill the whole family that morning, including her sister and the sister’s boyfriend.

“Hopefully, Heather will get the mental health treatment she needs while serving her sentence,” Dumanis said.

If Heather had been treated from the get-go, her mother would be alive today and Heather would not be in prison.

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