After studying thoroughly, I found what was to me the most interesting yet sickening case of children killing the elderly, it was murder committed by fifteen year old Cindy Collier and fourteen year old Shirley Wolf. On June 14th 1983, when the two had just become best friends, they went around knocking on doors of homes so that someone would let them in as they had been swimming, and I assume they were cold and wet. Eventually an eighty five year old grandmother named Anna Brackett let them in because she thought they looked like innocent little girls, but only if they called their parents.
Anna then went to get them some water and they all had a chat, but at the same time the two girls were plotting how to steal her car. When Anna went to answer a phone call, the girls decided it was time; Shirley grabbed the old woman by the neck choking her whilst Cindy found a butcher’s knife and tossed it to her. Shirley then got the old woman on the floor and started to stab and slash her body, because she was so rough, she broke the knife, so Cindy passed her a much bigger one.
After the woman was dead and had been stabbed twenty eight times, the two young girls ran off laughing back to Cindy’s house. When they were found out and arrested by the police, they confessed to the police that the murder gave them a ‘kick’ and they’d definitely like to do another one because they thought it was fun. A diary entry from Shirley stated that: “Today Cindy and I ran away and killed an old lady. It was lots of fun. “4 This I what I would call an act of insanity, however, when thinking what I read about their background, I wouldn’t blame them for their mental state.
As a child, Cindy had been molested by her stepbrother, neglected and used by both of her parents, and in and out of juvenile halls, foster care, and community service jobs. On the other hand Shirley Wolf was an innocent victim of incest, had been neglected and frequently abused, from things such as being forced into oral sex at three years old, full intercourse at nine years old then being put on birth control at twelve, and being photographed for child pornography magazines. To me I think that the mental state of these girls and the immoral acts that they committed, are due to the immoral way of life that they had been subjected to.
I believe that the only reasonable explanation for this occurrence and lapse of sanity is that they are so confused with right and wrong which is why they are so disturbed to the extent that they can enjoy killing innocent people. One of the most proposed theories as to why, is media. This is because media constantly surrounds and mauls our environment, leading us to be influenced by it, however, because children are still developing their personal identity and finding their way in life, they are more susceptible to being affected by it.
Every day children are attacked with information, messages, images etc, from the media which are subjecting them to be told how to behave and what life choices to make and basically how and what to think. This then leads to them copying what they have seen on television, the internet, or in video games, because their young fragile minds have not yet discovered how to judge or process these influences for themselves. “An example of a child emulating what he has seen in a film is from the film ‘Natural Born Killers’.
A young boy was obsessed with and watched this film many times, a couple with friends and many more by himself, he then made the choice to kill his mother and sister, then went on the run like the killers in the film that he looked up to did. Another example is of two young girls who attacked and murdered a nun, and then claimed that they were told to do it in the lyrics of the songs by Marilyn Manson. ” 5 Why are these children so easily able to access such violent films and lyrics?
One answer is that parents are finding more and more need to work and less time to spend with their children therefore the children are open to watching television, playing video games, and accessing the internet; all of which introduce them to violence as aforementioned. By letting children view all of these bad images and influences “We are, in short, teaching them that killing is natural. “6 This leads me to another cause as to why children kill, which is abuse. There are three main types of abuse that can affect a child in later life; sexual, physical and mental.
Many of the children I have studied about that kill have experienced either two or all of these forms of abuse. Usually this abuse is then forced upon a child by a family member or authority, but in most cases by a father, brother, or mother. In the case of children who kill and sexually abuse another person, they are just acting in this manner merely because they recreating the violence and abuse that was done unto them. These children possibly have been victims of abuse for a number of years before they decided that enough was enough and they finally lost it and became the person that was responsible for instead of the victim.
This reaction is normal for a child who has not been taught any different because what they have been subjected to is what they believe is morally right, little do they know that it is the opposite of right, immoral. There have been cases where the children that have experienced abuse in their family went and killed the family that made them suffer, however the usual approach that these troubled children take is to take it out on innocent victims that have nothing to do with them whatsoever.
For example, an American girl named Cheryl Pierson who was a very popular, \pretty, social cheerleader, paid someone to kill her abusive father. This someone was a 16-year-old classmate named Sean Pica, and when Cheryl questioned who would be daring enough to fulfil such a task he promptly offered his services, providing that he got paid well as his life would also be on the line.
Cheryl’s father was a widow who tried his hardest to be a good dad and bring his children up well, however Cheryl claimed that he showed her too much affection, by not only showering her with love and gifts but also by sexually abusing her since the age of 11. The abuse began when Cheryl’s mother was slowly dying in and out of hospital, and when she eventually died, two days later Cheryl’s father forced her to have sex in her recently passed mother’s bed. She was then made to endure sex with her father twice daily and if she tried to stop it in any way she would be beaten brutally.
This is proof of children snapping because of the violence and wrong done to them. Another case of child abuse leading to the formation of a murderer is in the case of Mary Bell. However, they didn’t kill their family, they killed innocent victims. They both had a very tough upbringing, I will discuss them both separately because they are so lengthy, firstly that of Mary. Mary Bell had a childhood that involved continuous drug overdoses and abandonment. Her father played the role of uncle for an unknown reason and her mother was a disciplinarian.
Her mother however, disciplined her in the wrong way; she was a dominatrix prostitute (she used whips and bondage on her clients) and felt that her daughter was a hindrance to her work, so she continuously tried to abandon her. As aforementioned, she experienced drug overdoses which were given by her mother. At 11-years-old, Mary is the youngest female killer in the UK, even 36 years after she was diagnosed to be “intelligent, manipulative, and dangerous”7 and found guilty of the murder of two children.