Recently in my hometown of Shreveport, Louisiana, a man was arraigned on a second-degree murder charge in connection with the death of his one-month-old son who died in 2007. The case was reopened after he was arrested, back in March, for injuries found by daycare workers on his three-month-old son. The one-month-old died from head injuries and multiple fractures, but the district attorney’s office was unable to prosecute because of lack of evidence. Unfortunately, I know all too well what it feels like to lose a child in a violent manner. My son, Terrell, was killed by his father in 2008 at the age of three months. According to his taped confession, he was trying to get back at me. In the blink of an eye, I became the news story that reminds you why you sometimes hate watching the news. I began pondering how anyone could destroy their own seed, so I took to the Internet to help put a couple of pieces together.
I knew that I wasn’t the first person to lose their child at the hands of the other parent and unfortunately I know I won’t be the last. Each year, 250-300 children lose their lives at the hands of the one who’s supposed to protect them. Five months before my son was killed, Lam Luong threw his four children, all under the age of three, off of a bridge near Mobile, Alabama. During the trial, the state proved Luong threw his children to their death to get back at his wife. Seriously? Whatever happened to destroying clothes or keying cars? As much as I don’t approve of domestic violence, I would have rather my son’s father beat me up like he used to before beating our son. I would have undoubtedly taken his broken ribs and skull fractures.
According to psychiatrist Phillip Resnick, younger children are much more likely to be killed than older children, but that doesn’t mean that older kids are exempt. There are five types of filicide that offending parents fall into. The first is altruistic. The classic case of “my children and I will be better off together in heaven.” One instance recounts a woman who killed her three-year-old child and herself leaving behind a note stating, “Bury us in one box, we belong together.” The second type is when the parent is acutely psychotic. In 2003, a mother took a spider as a sign that she was supposed to kill her four-year-old daughter and six-month-old son. The third is fatal battering. This accounts for 80% of homicides of children under the age of one. The fourth is because the child is unwanted or the parent is unable to properly care for their children. The final type is spousal revenge. This typically happens after infidelity or during custody and divorce proceedings.
Though none of these things, or anything in the world for that matter, justifies killing innocent children, my research is helping me understand some of the mental aspects of the situation. It’s my belief that if something like this happens, psychology has only a portion of the answers to the many questions. We should do all we can to never let these children be forgotten. If we do nothing to change the world even a little bit after such an event takes place, then our children have died in vain. I’m a strong believer that all children are sent to us from God, but life and the evils within it sometimes have a way of horribly corrupting God’s gifts to the world. That’s where killers, rapists, and psychopaths come from. When someone is taken at a young age, it wasn’t because God was enforcing some type of punishment, but instead He’s trying to protect a prized possession.
We, as families and friends of the fallen person, must never let their death be a dead end for us, but instead let their death be a tool used to overcome. My son was born a healthy 6lbs 9oz on March 3, 2008, and died a slow, painful death all alone because he was in the care of his father when this happened. He was placed on life support and pronounced brain dead on June 24, 2008. He was pronounced dead the next afternoon while I was being questioned at the police station. I never got to see my son again until he was in a casket. Every day, I pray not only for my strength but for the strength of every mother and father who have to visit a headstone in order to spend time with their children. Over time, the days get brighter and the nights get shorter, but the pain will never go away. If you want to survive, you’re going to have to learn how to live your new life. This revelation won’t come overnight, but if you want to live again you’re going to have to find your place in the world. To all parents who’ve lost a child in any manner, we have to stick together because only we know the exact pain that we feel.