There’s nothing new about parents disagreeing with their children. Sometimes the differences can be worked out or there may be comfort in the conflict. However, it takes a unique type of personality to commit murder against the person that helped give them life. In the past couple of decades, there have been quite a few situations that have driven children, both young and older, to willingly kill a parent.
Some murderers were victims of mental or physical abuse brought on, or encouraged by, their parents. Others may have been abandoned during their childhood, or it may be a way for a child to speed up receiving an inheritance. In this list of top 10 people who murdered their parents, these criminals come from various backgrounds, education and social statuses. While some of the charged have regrets, others only hate their fact that they were caught and made to serve time for their misdeeds.
List of Top 10 People Who Murdered Their Parents
1. The Menendez Brothers
This pair from Beverly Hills seemed to have it all – good looks, money, and seemingly many prospects for the future. However, it was a deep hatred for their parents that drove them to do the unthinkable in August 1989. Lyle and Erik, who were 21 and 18, respectively, had no real motive for shooting parents Jose and Mary Menendez. However, the brothers alleged they had suffered from abuse by their strict entertainment executive father.
After buying tickets to see a movie as an alibi, the two drove back to their parents’ home and shot both with a shotgun around 10 p.m. Initially, they pretended to know nothing about the double homicide and weren’t considered suspects until local law enforcement noticed two things. The first was the elaborate spending by both sons immediately after the death of their parents. Also, younger brother Erik, who began seeing a psychotherapist afterwards confessed his misdeeds to the doctor, who taped the conversation.
Looking to impress his girlfriend, Dr. L. Jerome Oziel played the confession for her and she, in turn, reported the matter to the police. The brothers were charged with first-degree murder in March of 1990.
While they claimed self-defense, the pair were convicted in March of 1996 and sentenced to life in prison. Since the arrest, a movie based on their lives has been made, and the televised courtroom trials have been parodied in a number of comedic movies and television shows. The brothers have married and as of 2016, there’s a chance that their sentences may be reduced. On Oxygen channel’s Snapped, it was revealed that the sexual abuse claims may be admissible in a retrial. Should this occur, this will make the brother’s third time in a court of law.
2. Sarah Johnson
In 2003, this Idaho teen would shoot both parents with a Magnum because they forbade her from seeing her boyfriend. At the time, he was 19, an illegal immigrant and had a reputation for dealing drugs. The Johnson family – which included parents Diane and Allen – were part of an exclusive community in the Bellevue area. After sneaking away to spend the night with boyfriend Bruno Dominguez, Sarah was tracked down and punished for causing the family to worry. On September 2, 2003, using a gun she got from the guest home, she shot both of her sleeping parents.
While screaming for help, she told neighbors and police that she woke up to find her parents murdered in their bedroom. Over the course of the investigation, Sarah’s story changed but it was forensic evidence that gave her away. A pink robe found in the trash with blood spatters belonged to Sarah raised a flag with investigators. However, an investigation showed there was no biological matter to be found on Johnson – until her prints were found on the rifle.
A jury found the 16-year-old guilty on two counts of first degree murder. She was sentenced to two fixed life prison terms, plus 15 years, with no possibility of parole. Since the ruling, several appeals have been filed asking for a retrial but the most recent was rejected by the Idaho Supreme Court.
3. Stacey Lannert
In July 1990, St. John , Missouri resident Stacy Lannert shot and killed her father, Tom, in his sleep. At the time of the murder, the 18-year-old had suffered through years of sexual abuse and younger sister Christy was a victim of physical (but non-sexual) abuse – both at the hands of their father.
After finding a rifle in the basement of their home, the two sisters conspired to shoot him while he slept on the couch. The first shot by Stacey hit him in the collarbone and later, she proceeded to shoot him in the head, killing him instantly. With a friend, she contacted the police and at first, pretended to have never seen the body. Unfortunately, she was implicated by the friend during questioning, forcing her to confess to the crime.
Stacy’s defense team wanted to use the Battered Spouse Syndrome, which is mental and physical abuse by a spouse or domestic partner. At the time, no such laws existed for children and Stacy was found guilty of first-degree murder and given a prison sentence with no chance of parole. However, this was overturned in 2009 when a clemency petition was filed with the local government. After serving 18 years with good behavior, Stacey was released from prison.
4. The Whitehead Twins
Jasmiyah and Tasmiyah Whitehead repeatedly stabbed their mother, Nikki, at their Conyers, Georgia home in January 2010. The 16-year-olds, who had been reared by their great-grandmother, had a hard time adjusting to many rules dictated by their mother. Before the murder, the teens got into numerous physical fights with Nikki and some incidents escalated to the juvenile court system. The day of the murder began with a fight where Nikki sustained bite marks. This would help investigators solve the case, as the twins were arrested at school in May of the same year. Both pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter and received 30 years prison time. The Whitehead twins are serving at separate prisons in Georgia.
5. David Brom
In February, 1988, 16-year-old David Brom killed his family in Rochester, Minnesota – using an ax. Friends say that the problem rose from the father’s strict rules about listening to punk rock music. According to students at the Lourdes Roman Catholic School David attended, he spoke candidly about wanting to kill his family, which included father Bernard, mother Paulette, younger siblings Diane and Rick. After being charged, David’s defense team tried unsuccessfully to plead insanity. He was found guilty of first-degree murder and given three consecutive life sentences.
6. Esmie Tseng
Born to Chinese immigrants, 16-year-old Esmie grew up in a strict Overland Park, Kansas household that prioritized academia. As a bright student, she also excelled in music but it was receiving three B’s that set her mother into a tirade. In March 2006, Esmie would repeatedly stab her mother in self-defense. Upon questioning, she confessed to the crime and was given 100 months in prison on an involuntary manslaughter charge. In 2012, Esmie was released and currently resides in Kansas City, where she works as a news editor.
7. Larry Swartz
From birth, Larry moved around in the foster care system but at age 6, he was adopted by Robert and Katherine Swartz. Unable to have children of their own, they would adopt another son, Michael, and later, daughter Annie. A chaotic household that started with conflicts between Michael and the Swartz’s. While into his teens, Michael would return to the foster care system and eventually made Larry their target of frustration. This drove Larry to drink and he was believed to be under the influence on January 16, 1984. An argument between Robert and Larry arose after a disagreement about the home computer. Using a kitchen knife, both parents were stabbed repeatedly and then dragged to different areas of the home. Larry would confess the crime to his attorney and it was psychological testing that indicated the young man had substantial problems. He was sentenced to two 20-year sentences but was released in 1993 after serving nine years. After settling into domestic life, he would die from a heart attack at age 37 in December 2004.
8. Alex and Derek King
The brothers had been shuffled around the Pensacola, Florida area for most of their lives before moving in with father, Terry, in 2001. Relations were tumultuous and they sought solace with family friend Rick Chavis, an older man with a criminal record that included prison time and charges of lewd acts with minors. In November 2001, a fire at the King home appeared to take the life of Terry, who was at home alone. Upon further investigation, it was found that the 40-year-old father was bludgeoned to death. The boys, who were both under 15 at the time, were believed to be at Rick’s home at the time of the fire. Once they were found, the brothers were questioned by the police and Derek confessed to beating his father with an aluminum baseball bat. The story would change several times, as some version named either Alex or Rick as the attacker or mastermind. A year after the murder, the boys pleaded guilty to third degree murder and arson. The King Brothers also had to serve time at a juvenile prison. Rick was found guilty of tampering and as an accessory. By March 2009, the brothers were released but their current whereabouts are unknown.
9. Kip Kinkel
Probably the youngest person to date to receive more than a century-long prison sentence. Back in 1998, the troubled teen, who’d experienced problems in learning and petty theft in the past, was hanging with the wrong crowd. His growing interest in firearms led him to buy a gun at the age of 15. On May 20, Kip was a troubled student at Thurston High School facing expulsion for carrying a loaded firearm. His father wanted to send the young man to military school but Kip would shoot him in the head later that afternoon. Then he shot his mother multiple times. The next morning, he would arrive at school only to shoot and kill two students and wound 25 others on the campus. After psychiatric analysis and confrontation by the police, Kinkel pleaded guilty to murder and attempted murder in September 1999. Several appeals have been filed based on the insanity defense and rejected each time. Now in his mid-30s, he is serving time at the Oregon State Correctional Institution.
10. Lizzie Borden
Back 1892, she was one of the first to gain notoriety for murdering her father and stepmother in Fall River, Massachusetts. She was 32 at the time but still lived at home with her family. There are many theories as to what really happened but most accounts state problems with money and stepmother Abby, whom Lizzie called “Mrs. Borden”. Acquitted by a jury, Lizzie would continue to live normally until she died of pneumonia at age 66 in 1927.
These above are the Top 10 People Who Murdered Their Parents. It’s unfortunate to think there’s no resolve in a loveless relationship between parent and child. Even if a parent’s actions were deplorable, taking their lives takes away the opportunity for both parties to see the light. Maybe the parent only wanted to show tough love or had been too lenient in giving the child what they wanted throughout their life. Whatever the reason, murder never gives anyone the chance to show how really sorry they are.