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Top 10 Killers that Started Down a Dark Path at an Early Age

by Gwenn Smith
fact checked by Rachel Jones

It appears you are never too young to start killing. While most kids choose sports, art, or music as hobbies, some decided to exercise with murder. Here are ten killers and the age they started down a dark path.

10 Harvey Miguel Robinson, 17 Years Old

The Story of Harvey Miguel Robinson

Harvey Miguel Robinson is from Allentown, Pennsylvania, and is one of the youngest serial killers on death row. He was 17 when he first committed murder in August 1992. Police caught Robinson on July 31st, 1993, after he raped but failed to kill Denise Cali on June 28th, 1993. Robinson returned to Cali’s house, where police were waiting. Since Cali bit Robinson’s arm during the initial attack before fleeing, police could match the bite mark to Robinson and convict him. Allentown police also connected Robinson to the rape and murder of the following three women:

  • Joan Burghardt: 29-year-old nurse’s aide (August 1992)
  • Charlotte Schmoyer: 15-year-old newspaper carrier for The Morning Call (June 1993)
  • Jessica Jean Fortney: 47-year-old grandmother (July 1993)

The courts convicted Robinson of raping and killing Schmoyer, Burghardt, and Fortney on November 10th, 1994, and sentenced him to death for all three cases. In April 1995, the courts also convicted him of raping a 5-year-old girl and sentenced him to an additional 57 years in prison. In April 2006, Robinson got a resentence to life imprisonment for the Joan Burghardt murder because he was only 17 at the time. He also exchanged his appeal rights for a life sentence in the Schmoyer case on December 14th, 2012. As of 2020, he still has the death penalty for the Fortney murder.

9 Craig Price, 13 Years Old

Tape of Craig Price’s chilling confession surfaces 1 year before serial killer’s potential release

Craig Chandler Price is from Warwick, Rhode Island, and currently imprisoned at the Florida State Prison in Raiford. Craig was 13 years old when he killed 27-year-old Rebecca Spencer, a neighbor who lived two doors down from his house. Price stabbed Spencer 58 times. He wasn’t a suspect for Spencer’s murder but confessed to the crime when police caught him two years later for killing three additional neighbors while high on drugs in 1989. The victims were 39-year-old Joan Heaton and her daughters Jennifer and Melissa, who were 10 and 8. He stabbed them over 30 times with wounds so deep the handles broke off the knives. He also crushed Melissa’s skull. Price did not show signs of remorse for killing the Heatons, even imitating the sounds of their death cries. 

Due to his age, Price couldn’t face trial and was committed to a juvenile correctional institution called the Rhode Island Training School. However, in 2004, Price transferred from Rhode Island to Florida because of his violent tendencies. He was also denied parole in March 2009. Although the courts set his release date for May 2020, they sentenced him to an additional 25 years on January 18th, 2019, for stabbing an inmate Joshua Davis on April 4th, 2017. 


8 Jasmine Richardson, 12 Years Old

Jasmine Richardson| Killer #3.

Jasmine Richardson and her Romeo, Jeremy Steinke, flipped the classic story of forbidden love. Instead of committing suicide, they murdered anyone that got in their way. At 12 years old, Richardson started dating 27-year-old Steinke after meeting at a punk rock show in 2006. However, her parents aggressively disapproved of their relationship due to the age gap. On April 23rd, 2006, the couple decided to go on a murder spree by killing Richardson’s parents, Marc and Debra, and her 8-year-old brother Jacob. A 6-year-old neighbor found the bodies in the Richardson’s home at Medicine Hat, Alberta, Canada. 

Steinke admitted to police that Richardson wanted her parents dead so she could be free from them. He even told her father, “It’s what your daughter wanted,” as Marc died from stab wounds. Jasmine Richardson was the one to stab her brother in the neck. On July 9th, 2007, the court convicted Richardson and Steinke each with three counts of first-degree murder. Richardson was one of the youngest people to be convicted of multiple first-degree murders in Canada. However, convicts under fourteen in Canada cannot receive more than a ten-year sentence. In contrast, Steinke received three life sentences on December 15th, 2008. 

Richardson started attending classes at Mount Royal University in Calgary, Alberta, for the final years of her sentence and was released into a psychiatric hospital in 2011. With evidence of rehabilitation, Richardson completed her sentence in May 2016. 

7 Mary Bell, 10 Years Old

Who is Mary Bell?

With an impoverished life and a mother who tried to kill her multiple times, Mary Bell decided to take a dark path before her 11th birthday. On May 25th, 1968, Bell took 4-year-old Martin Brown to a deserted house in Newcastle, England, and strangled him to death. Although she later left notes confessing to the murder, the police didn’t take her seriously. Two months later, she killed again. Bell left the body of 3-year-old Bryan Howe in the same area she left Brown’s. This time, the police arrested her.

In December 1968, the courts convicted her of manslaughter due to diminished responsibility. The court-appointed psychiatrist described her as having classic symptoms of psychopathy. Police reports indicated she had carved an “M” into Howe’s body and mutilated him, including using scissors to cut off his genitals. Bell spent 12 years in prison. She was released in 1980 when she was 23. She now lives with her daughter with a new identity. 


6 Joseph Mcvay, 10 Years Old

10-Year-Old Ohio Boy Admits To Killing His Mother

On January 2nd, 2011, at their home in Holmes County, Ohio, Joseph McVay, age 10, shot his mother, Deborah McVay, age 46. According to his sister, Shawna McVay, Joseph was tired of fighting with his mom and used a 22 caliber rifle to shoot her. He then went to his neighbor’s house, called 911, and told the dispatcher, “I shot my mom. I shot her with a gun.” Joseph pleaded guilty to one count of murder the same day of the incident. The court found him incompetent for trial until early 2013, when they sentenced him in juvenile court at 13. 

The official motive was Joseph was arguing with his mom over chores. To avoid bringing in firewood from outside, he fired a shot into his mother’s head instead. However, there is the question as to how long the intent to kill may have been brewing. Interviews with family members and school administrators indicated his mother physically, emotionally, and verbally abused him. Joseph also showed signs of anger and aggression before the murder, like in September 2007, when he swatted a school administrator with a dustpan. 

5 Cayetano Santos Godino, 9 Years Old

Serial Killer: “Macrotous Runt”

Cayetano Santos Godino, also known as El Petiso Orejudo or Macrotous Runt, was a serial killer and arsonist from Buenos Aires, Argentina that started down his killing path young. He beat a 2-year-old, left him in a ditch when he was 7, and beat another kid with a stone when he was 8. Due to his young age, the police released him from jail time. But, these beatings were just the beginning. A year later, in 1906, Godino killed 3-year-old Maria Rosa Face and got away with it.

It wasn’t until he confessed to police years later that he strangled her and buried her alive in a ditch did anyone connect him to the crime. In 1912, before he turned 16 in October, Godino started a spree of destruction. His attacks include:

  • Arturo Laurona: 13-year-old, killed and left in an abandoned house (January 26th)
  • Reyna Vainicoff: 5-year-old killed by setting fire to her dress (March 7th)
  • Roberto Russo: 8-year-old choked but survived (November 8th)
  • Carolina Neolener: 2-year-old kidnapped but rescued (November 20th)

On December 4th, 1912, police finally arrested and jailed Godino after he killed Jesualdo Giordano. Godino took Giordano to a country house, tried to choke him, beat him, and eventually killed him by hammering a nail into the side of his skull.

Following this incident, Godino entered a youth detention center on January 4th, 1913. Medical reports declared him insane after he tried to kill some inmates. The judge ended the case and ordered him to stay in the center. An appeal approved him to move back to jail on November 20th, 1915. Godino later transferred to Ushuaia Penitentiary on March 28th, 1923, where he died in 1944. 


4 Christian Romero, 8 Years Old

8YEAR OLD ARIZONA MURDERER- HE PLANNED TO KILL HIS FATHER

On November 5th, 2008, Christian Romero from St. Johns, Arizona, committed a double murder at eight years old. He was accused of killing his father, Vincent Romero, with a 22-caliber rifle before shooting a family friend who rented a room at their house, Tim Romans.

Romero pleaded guilty to one count of negligent homicide in 2009 for killing Romans, but the court never charged him with his father’s death, despite the suspicion that it was premeditated. Prosecution attorney Michael Whiting explained that his father’s killing was dropped because it was in Romero’s best interest the court didn’t force him to acknowledge the killing. 

Romero lived under the supervision of the Apache County Superior Court in a secure, supervised group home. His probation terms included receiving treatment and mental health evaluations instead of punishment. In 2015, 15-year-old Romero was recommended by an Apache County probation officer, Julie Nicholson, to attend public school. 

3 Carroll Cole, 8 Years Old

1985: Carroll Cole Final Interview Before Execution

Born on May 9th, 1938, in Sioux City, Iowa, Carroll Cole was a serial killer who started killing at the young age of 8. After his family moved to Richmond, California, Cole was emotionally abused by his younger sister at home and often teased at school. In 1947, he retaliated against a classmate, 8-year-old Duane, by drowning him in a lake. Although at the time, authorities ruled it as an accident, Cole confessed years later in an autobiography that it was intentional.

As a teenager, Cole committed several petty crimes, was discharged from the Army for bad conduct, and in 1960 attacked two couples in parked cars on lover’s lane. He attempted to strangle numerous women in the years following, including an 11-year-old girl in Missouri. This crime led him to a five-year prison sentence. 

Since his first murder at 8, Cole didn’t successfully kill again until May 7th, 1971, when he strangled Essie L. Buck to death. However, it wasn’t until November 1980 that police arrested Cole for fatally strangling three women in Texas. The courts convicted Cole of the three murders on April 9th, 1981, and he was executed by lethal injection on December 6th, 1985. Before his death, Cole claimed he had gotten away with the murders of at least fourteen other women in the nine years prior to 1980.


2 Amarjeet Sada, 7 Years Old

India’s Youngest Serial Killer: 8 Years Old Amarjeet Sada

Amardeep Sada, also known as Amarjeet, not only started killing young but had some of the youngest victims. His three murders in Bihar, India, were all babies under one year old. When he was 7, he killed his 8-month-old sister and 6-month-old cousin but got away because his parents helped cover up the crime. Some villagers also knew of the killings but did not report it because they considered it a family matter. A year later, in January 2007, he killed Kushboo, a neighbor’s 6-month-old daughter. Police finally caught him. Sada happily confessed to taking Kushboo from daycare, strangling her, and hitting her on the head with a stone. He became known as India’s youngest serial killer. 

The Bhagwanpur police in the Musahari village said Sada smiled a lot and spoke very little when being questioned about his crimes. Psychoanalyst, Shamshad Hussain, said Sada was a sadist who derives pleasure from inflicting injuries. However, a former psychology professor of Patna University said he did not have a sense of right or wrong. Superintendent Amit Lodha declared the case a psychiatric one, and Sada needed to be evaluated by professionals. Finding he had a chemical imbalance and needed help, Sada ended up staying in a children’s home until he turned 18. 

1 Carl Newton Mahan, 6 Years Old

Six year old killer: Carl Newton Mahan

While there could be younger murderers that got away with their crimes, Carl Newton Mahan has claimed the title of the youngest known killer in American history. He became Kentucky’s youngest murder defendant after using a 12-gauge shotgun to kill a friend on May 18th, 1929. Mahan fought with 8-year-old Cecil Van Hoose in their impoverished coal-mine town over who could sell a scrap of iron. Hoose ended up slapping Mahan in the face with the iron scrap.

Mahan ran home to retrieve his father’s shotgun before declaring to Hoose, “I’m going to shoot you!” and pulled the trigger. Less than a week later, Mahan was on trial for the murder, where he often lay on the defense counsel’s table or slept. A jury convicted Mahan of manslaughter, and the judge sentenced him to 15 years of reform school. 

There was contradicting public opinion on whether manslaughter was too harsh or not enough as a conviction. A Circuit Court judge overturned the conviction, saying a county judge should decide juvenile cases. Finally, Kentucky’s attorney general became responsible for making the final decision and announced he would take no action against Mahan. Mahan was allowed to remain with his parents.

               
fact checked by Rachel Jones