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10 Young People Who Murdered Their Parents
Few crimes have ever garnered more notoriety than when Lizzie Borden was charged with brutally murdering her father and stepmother with an ax in 1892. Even though she was eventually acquitted of the crime, debate still rages on about her guilt to this day. One of the main reasons the case garnered so much attention was because it was unfathomable for someone to murder their own parents in such a violent fashion, even though Lizzie Borden was 32 years old at the time the crime occurred.
10 William James Bresnahan Jr.
On August 4, 1964, the bodies of Broomfield, Colorado physician William Bresnahan Sr. and his wife Laurel were discovered at a campsite near Silverthorne. Authorities eventually tracked down their 16-year-old son, William Jr., who confessed to murdering his family while on a camping trip. William claimed that his parents had always been abusive, and after getting into a heated argument with his mother, he wound up stabbing her to death. William then told his father what he had done before bludgeoning him to death. After pleading guilty, William received two life sentences in prison, but this story has an unexpected ending.
While incarcerated, William made a sincere attempt to turn his life around. He took courses from the University of Colorado and graduated at the very top of his class with a perfect 4.0 grade point average. This convinced the governor of Colorado to commute his sentence to 24 years, and William was paroled in 1977. A year later, he was accepted at the University of Colorado medical school and earned himself a license to practice medicine in 1983. William started a successful career treating migrant workers at a clinic in California, and in 1987 he received an unconditional pardon from Governor Roy Romer. William James Bresnahan Jr. has continued to live an upstanding, crime-free life ever since.
9 Jasmine Richardson
The Canadian town of Medicine Hat, Alberta, was shaken on April 23, 2006, when the bodies of Marc and Debra Richardson were found in the basement of their home. They had each been stabbed several times, and Marc had very little blood left in his body. The couple’s eight-year-old son, Jacob, was found upstairs with his throat cut, and their 12-year-old daughter, Jasmine, was missing. It was initially feared that Jasmine might have been abducted, but the truth was even more shocking. Jasmine was discovered alive the very next day in the province of Saskatchewan, alongside her 23-year-old boyfriend, Jeremy Allan Steinke. They were both charged with the murders of Jasmine’s family.
Because of the age difference, Jasmine’s parents heavily disapproved of her relationship with Jeremy. Shortly before the murders, he reportedly watched the film Natural Born Killers, which features a young couple murdering the girl’s parents before they run away together and go on a killing spree. Jeremy soon convinced Jasmine to marry him and participate in the murders of her parents before they ran off. After the couple was arrested, Jeremy was charged with three counts of first-degree murder and given three life sentences. Jasmine was also charged with three counts of first-degree murder, but because Canadian law prevents anyone under the age of 14 from being sentenced as adults, Jasmine was given the maximum penalty of 10 years. She is currently undergoing treatment at a psychiatric hospital and has reportedly expressed genuine remorse for her actions.
8 Christopher Porco
On the morning of November 15, 2004, the blood-soaked body of 52-year-old Peter Porco was found near the front door of his Delmar, New York, home. He had been bludgeoned to death with a fire ax. Peter’s wife, Joan, was found in her bed upstairs. She had also been bludgeoned with an ax but was still alive. Before she was rushed into emergency surgery, an investigator questioned Joan. When asked if a family member attacked her, Joan supposedly nodded “yes” after he mentioned the name of her youngest son, Christopher. After spending some time in a coma, Joan survived the attack, but did lose her left eye and a portion of her skull.
At the time, Christopher Porco was a 21-year-old student at Rochester University. His whereabouts could not be accounted for during the time of the murder, and his Jeep Wrangler was spotted in his parents’ driveway that morning. Christopher liked to present the facade of a lavish lifestyle to his fellow students, and he found himself in serious debt after forging his father’s signature to obtain loans and lines of credit. It was theorized that Christopher murdered his parents after they confronted him about this. While Joan Porco would later claim that she had no memory of the attack and supported Christopher, the circumstantial evidence was still strong enough to bring him to trial. In 2006, Christopher Porco was found guilty of both second-degree murder and attempted murder and was sentenced to 25 years to life for each count.
7 Seth Privacky
In Muskegon, Michigan, the Privacky family was getting together for a belated Thanksgiving dinner at their home on November 29, 1988. However, while 19-year-old Jed Privacky was watching television, his 18-year-old brother Seth grabbed their father’s .22-caliber Ruger and shot him. When Seth’s father and grandfather returned home, he shot them both as well. Seth’s mother had been in the shower while this was happening, but she was quickly murdered after she got out. Jed’s girlfriend, April Boss, was also shot to death after she showed up unexpectedly and saw Seth handling the bodies. Seth then called his best friend, Steven Wallace, to help him dispose of the gun and rearrange the bodies to make the scene look like a robbery.
However, Seth’s plan backfired when April’s mother and stepfather showed up at the house and saw him moving one of the bodies outside. Seth took off and went on the run before he was captured the next day and made a full confession. Wallace was also arrested for helping Seth dispose of evidence, but he was ultimately acquitted. Seth claimed that he killed his father for threatening to kick him out of the house and decided to murder the rest of his family for not standing up for him. He was convicted on five counts of murder and given a life sentence at the Kinross Correctional Facility in Kincheloe. On July 15, 2010, Seth Privacky was shot to death during a failed escape attempt.
6 Brian Blackwell
Brian Blackwell was a bright 18-year-old from the village of Melling, England, who was doing well during his first year at college and hoped to become a surgeon. However, he also suffered from narcissistic personality disorder, and he would constantly lie to other students about his wealth. Brian claimed to be a professional tennis player and hoped to build up the facade of a lavish lifestyle by applying for 13 credit cards and numerous loans in his father’s name. On July 25, 2004, his parents, Sydney and Jacqueline, allegedly confronted him about this, and Brian proceeded to beat them both with a claw hammer before stabbing them to death. Afterward, Brian took his girlfriend on an extended vacation to New York City and Barbados, racking up £30,000 in charges on his father’s credit cards.
The Blackwell’s decomposing bodies were not even discovered until September. When Brian was questioned, he initially proclaimed his innocence, but then changed his story to say that while using a claw hammer to hang a picture, his father attacked him, forcing Brian to kill him in self-defense. Investigators did not believe Brian’s story and charged him with murder. The charge was reduced when Brian pleaded guilty to manslaughter. This became the first case in English history where narcissistic personality disorder was used as a defense, since experts would claim that Brian was overcome with narcissistic rage when he murdered his parents. He was ultimately sentenced to life in prison.
5 David Brom
On the evening of February 18, 1988, police in Rochester, Minnesota, responded to a rumor that a local 16-year-old student named David Brom supposedly told a schoolmate he had murdered his family that morning. After visiting the Brom home, authorities were horrified to discover that David’s parents, Bernard and Paulette, had been bludgeoned to death with an ax. Two of their children, 14-year-old Diane and nine-year-old Richard, had also been killed in the exact same fashion, but David was nowhere to be found. He was spotted and arrested at a Rochester post office the following day.
Since David was a straight-A student who displayed no signs of homicidal tendencies, his motive for the murders was murky. It may have been something as simple as an argument with his father over a punk rock music tape he had bought. David murdered his family while they were sleeping and attended the school the next day, where he described the murders in great detail to a female friend. Given his age, David normally would have been referred to the juvenile court system, but the severity of the crime necessitated that he be tried as an adult. David’s legal team attempted to use an insanity defense, but he was still convicted of first-degree murder and given three consecutive life sentences. David Brom will not be eligible for parole until 2041.
4 John William McGrath
On March 10, 1962, a 17-year-old high school student named John William McGrath shocked the community of Newport, New Hampshire, by murdering his entire family. John returned home from work that night and was disillusioned when he found his parents, Francis and Willena, arguing. After they left the house, John grabbed a hunting rifle and shot his two brothers, 13-year-old Peter and five-year-old Charles. When John’s parents returned home, he also shot them. Afterward, while spattered with his family’s blood, John drove 72 kilometers (45 mi) to a state hospital in Concord and asked for treatment. He was quickly turned over to the police, where he confessed to the murders, claiming his family was better off dead.
John had spent two years in psychiatric treatment prior to the murders and was diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic. A grand jury found him not guilty by reason of insanity, and he was committed to a state mental hospital. John remained locked up for 10 years until he escaped on August 13, 1974. He had recently been transferred out of the hospital’s maximum security ward and granted supervised walks on the grounds, but on this particular day, he managed to disappear. No trace of John William McGrath has been found for nearly 40 years, and he remains the longest-running escapee in New Hampshire history. If still alive, he would be 69 years old today.
3 Andrew Wamsley
On the evening of December 11, 2003, a Mansfield, Texas, couple named Rick and Suzanna Wamsley were shot and stabbed to death in their home. A clump of hair was found in Rick Wamsley’s hand and DNA testing matched it to a 19-year-old woman named Susana Toledano, who implicated three others after her arrest. One of them was an IHOP manager named Hilario Cardenas, who provided the gun. However, the murders were orchestrated by the Wamsley’s 19-year-old son Andrew and his girlfriend, Chelsea Richardson. Andrew had started dating Chelsea earlier that year, but his parents disapproved of their relationship and cut him off when he refused to end it. This eventually prompted the couple to murder Rick and Suzanna, so that Andrew could inherit their $1.65 million estate.
Andrew and Chelsea enlisted Chelsea’s roommate, Susana Toledano, to perform the murders. After making some failed attempts to sabotage the Wamsley’s car, the trio finally succeeded in murdering them in their home on December 11. Andrew and Chelsea coached Susana as she shot and stabbed the Wamsleys. Andrew had also been planning to kill his older sister Sarah, but she was not home that night. For his role in the crime, Hilario Cardenas pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit murder and received a 50-year sentence. While attempts were made to give Andrew Wamsley, Chelsea Richardson, and Susana Toledano the death penalty, they each ultimately received sentences of life in prison.
2 David Bain
One would be hard-pressed to find many cases as controversial and divisive as the murders of the Bain family in Dunedin, New Zealand. On the morning of June 20, 1994, authorities received a frantic phone call from 22-year-old David Bain, who reported that his father Robin, his mother Margaret, and his three siblings—Arawa, Laniet, and Stephen—had all been shot. David claimed he had been out on his paper run and returned home to find his entire family murdered, but police were very skeptical of his story. Some of the suspicious evidence against David included a lens from his glasses being found on the floor in Stephen’s room and his odd decision to put his clothes in the washing machine after returning from his paper run. Four days later, he was charged with the murders and eventually sentenced to life imprisonment.
The defense’s theory was that Robin Bain murdered his family before committing suicide, since he was currently estranged from his wife and rumored to be involved in an incestuous relationship with his daughter. A message had been written on the family’s computer which read, “Sorry, you are the only one who deserved to stay,” though the prosecution claimed that David typed the message himself. The case was the subject of much controversy and debate until David was finally granted a retrial in 2009 and acquitted. He has spent subsequent years seeking compensation for his wrongful conviction, but opinions are still sharply divided over whether or not David is actually innocent.
1 Lowell Lee Andrews
On November 28, 1958, 22-year-old University of Kansas sophomore Lowell Lee Andrews was visiting his family for Thanksgiving at their home in Wolcott, Kansas. Lowell’s parents, William and Opal, and his 17-year-old sister, Jennie Marie, were watching television together while he read a novel upstairs. After he finished, Lowell decided to go shave, put on a suit, and walk downstairs. He took along a .22-caliber rifle and a revolver, and used them to murder his entire family. Lowell’s father was shot a total of 17 times as he attempted to crawl into the kitchen.
Lowell then opened a window to make the crime look like a burglary before driving to the town of Lawrence and attending a screening at a movie theater in order to establish an alibi. After tossing the weapons into the Kansas River, Lowell drove home and called the police to report the murders. When police arrived, they were instantly suspicious of how unemotional Lowell seemed to be about his family members’ deaths. When the family’s Baptist minister was summoned to the home, he eventually persuaded Lowell to confess to the crime. Lowell claimed he felt nothing at all while committing the murder, and while inheriting the family farm seemed to be his initial motive, he would later say, “I just don’t know why I did it.” Lowell’s lawyers would attempt an insanity defense, but he was still sentenced to death and executed via hanging on November 30, 1962.
Robin Warder is a budding Canadian screenwriter who has used his encyclopaedic movie knowledge to publish numerous articles at Cracked.com. He is also the co-owner of a pop culture website called The Back Row and recently worked on a sci-fi short film called “Jet Ranger of Another Tomorrow.” Feel free to contact him here.