A 23-year-old mother is in jail tonight for the fatal stabbing of her child in a park in Northern California. The woman approached police with the seven-month-old boy in her arms and it is believed she implicated herself in the crime. She also had stab wounds which were believed to be self-inflicted.
At 10:30 am on Saturday, police were called to a lonely spot on Arroyo Drive, close to Arroyo Camp. The camp is located inside the 4,400-acre Del Valle Regional park around 10 miles to the south of Livermore, California. Officers responding to the call discovered a grey Honda Civic with extensive damage to both the front and rear ends of the car. The driver of the vehicle was nowhere to be found.
Initially, the officers believed that the car had been involved in a hit and run. However, the baby car seat in the back spurred them to want to investigate the incident further.
After 12 noon, officers of the California Highway Patrol and the East Bay Regional Park spotted a woman walking towards them along Arroyo Drive. In her arms she held a baby covered in blood and not moving. As she approached, the officers could see that the child had endured multiple stab wounds. Staff at the site attempted CPR to try to revive the boy, but it was too late as his wounds were fatal. The mother was taken into custody and later booked into the Santa Rita jail. Police found a pocket knife at the scene which they believe she used to commit the crime.
The motives behind the stabbing are as yet unknown. But the woman is said to have suffered from depression in the past and had possibly tried to commit suicide as she had a large gash in her abdomen when she approached the police. It is also said that she had scars from self-inflicted knife wounds on her wrists.
This recent tragedy comes on the heels of another case of infanticide where a woman in Utah was found to have the corpses of her seven children hidden in her garage. The woman admitted to strangling or suffocating six of the children with the seventh being born dead. As yet, the reasons for her actions are unknown.
The practice of infanticide (the killing of a child under one year) or filicide (the killing of one’s own children in general), has been around since ancient times. Famously in Greek mythology, Medea killed her sons to punish her husband’s adultery. In fact, studies of homicide trends between 1980 and 2008 state that around two-thirds of all children murdered under the age of five were killed by their parents.
Broadly speaking, the motivations behind killing a child fall into one of several categories. There is the altruistic reason, the parents believe that the child is better off dead. This can come from a real situation, for example a terminal illness, or a perceived one, such as a parent attempting suicide as well and thinking they cannot leave the child alone in the world. There is the motive like Medea, a revenge killing for a partner who is not faithful. It can happen accidentally either through neglect or abuse. Some parents are not ready for the responsibilities that children bring, or see the child as a hindrance to them that they need to get rid of. Finally, it can be the result of psychosis where the parent believes that the child is possessed by the devil or other ideas not based in the reality of the situation.
Whatever the reasons history has provided, police are said to have been hit hard after the fatal stabbing of the child. Timothy Anderson, chief of the East Bay Regional Park District police, has reportedly said that officers were thinking of their own families in relation to the incident. Also he is “curious to know why” the California mother committed the crime. She herself, is said to be staying in jail, with no possible release at this time.
By Sara Watson