Book Explores Why Children Kill Parents

USF Professor Kathleen Heide, a leading expert on parricide for more than 25 years, explores the topic through interviews with offenders.

                                                                                                                                      Video: Katy Hennig | USF News

By Adam Freeman

USF News

 

TAMPA, Fla. (Jan. 8, 2013) – A University of South Florida professor who is an expert on parricide – the act of murdering a parent or close relative – has published a new book on the topic, which was thrust into the national spotlight in December following the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.

The new book by Professor Kathleen Heide is the most comprehensive work available about juvenile and adult sons and daughters who kill their parents. Prior to the Newtown school shooting, Adam Lanza shot and killed his mother, Nancy Lanza, while she may have slept.

Understanding Parricide: When Sons and Daughters Kill Parents moves beyond the statistics of parricide to provide portraits of offenders and victims, and explains the reasons behind the killings. In an unprecedented step in her research, Heide follows up on adolescents who have killed parents to see what’s happened to them years later and what their lives have become.

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View a video profile of Professor Heide from 2010.

Link to the book information on the publisher's website.

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“I’d like for people to understand more about the phenomenon,” Heide explains, “The critical question for me is what drove the homicide?  That tells you something about why it happened, but more importantly about the individual involved, what could be done in terms of treatment, what the likely prognosis is, and if the individual is dangerous.”

Heide, a professor in USF’s Department of Criminology and licensed mental health professional, is an internationally-recognized consultant and lecturer on homicide and family violence, as well as the author of three widely acclaimed books on juvenile homicide.  Understanding Parricide, though, is more advanced in exploring the topic.  Using her 25 years of experience in evaluating individuals, Heide’s analysis is based on thousands of cases, many of which she personally evaluated the offenders, or consulted on their cases.  Heide breaks down parricide offenders into four categories, and includes an in-depth focus on clinical assessment, and case studies, along with treatment, risk assessment, and prevention.

“If you want to know something about parricide this is the book to go to.  If you want to know about girls who kill mothers, boys who kill fathers, adult males who kill mothers, it’s all here,” Heide said.

Heide has appeared as an expert on many national talk and news shows, including 20/20, CNN, Fox News, and Good Morning America.  She received her B.A. in Psychology from Vassar College and her M.A. and Ph.D. in Criminal Justice from the University of Albany, State University of New York.

Adam Freeman can be reached at 813-974-9047.