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Act of killing one's own family
A familicide is a type of murder or murder-suicide in which a perpetrator kills multiple close family members in quick succession, most often children, relatives, spouse, siblings, or parents. In half the cases, the killer lastly kills themselves in a murder-suicide. If only the parents are killed, the case may also be referred to as a parricide. Where all members of a family are killed, the crime may be referred to as family annihilation.
Familicide of others
Familicides were used as an enhanced punishment in antiquity. In ancient China, the "nine familial exterminations" was the killing of an entire extended family or clan, usually for treason. Machiavelli advocated the extermination of a previous ruler's family to prevent uprisings in The Prince.Sippenhaft (English: kin liability) was used in Nazi Germany to punish and sometimes execute the relatives of defectors and anyone involved in the 20 July plot.La Cosa Nostra began killing the relatives, including women and more recently children, of informants (pentiti) and rivals in the 1980s. It is not incorporated formally into any modern judicial systems, except in North Korea, where whole-family internment at Kaechon internment camp often ends in death.
Definition and statistics
Between 1900 and 2000, there were 909 victims of mass murder in the US (defined as four victims within a 24-hour period). Of those, more than half occurred within an immediate family. Although the familicide cases are relatively rare, they are the most common form of mass killings. However, statistical data are difficult to establish due to reporting discrepancies.
Familicide differs from other forms of mass murder in that the murderer kills family members or loved ones rather than anonymous people. This has a different psychodynamic and psychiatric significance, but the distinction is not always made.
A study of 30 cases in Ohio found that most of the killings were motivated by a parent's desire to stop their children's suffering. According to ABC News contributor and former FBI agent Brad Garrett, people responsible for killing their families tend to be white males in their 30s. Many of these crimes occur in August, before school starts, which may delay detection and investigation.
In Australia, a study was done of seven cases of familicide followed by suicide in which marital separation followed by custody and access disputes were identified as an issue. Some common factors such as marital discord, unhappiness, domestic violence, sexual abuse, threats of harm to self or others were found in varying degrees. It was not clear what could be done in terms of prevention.
The Director of the Birmingham City University Centre of Applied Criminology, David Wilson, co-wrote a study with two others, "A taxonomy of male British family annihilators, 1980-2013", examining British familicides in the period. Newspaper articles were used as references. The study concluded that most of the perpetrators were male. Men who murder their entire families usually do so because they believe their spouse performed a wrongdoing and that the spouse needs to be punished, they feel that the family members caused a disappointment, they feel that their own financial failings ruined the point of having a family, and because they wish to save their family from a perceived threat. Far fewer women commit familicide, and those who do usually have different reasons, such as fear of losing custody of children. Female family annihilators are also more likely to be premeditated, and are more likely to murder infants under the age of one.
A literature review done in 2018 noted contextual and offense characteristics of familicide. Among the 63 articles reviewed 74-85% noted relationship problems or separation. This article also found evidence of financial problems, intoxication, and use of firearms. This literature review unveiled that 71% of these offenses were motivated in regard to conflict between parents and 29% associated to the perpetrators' situation in life. Lastly this article reported two studies, one of which found that many of the motives involved feelings of abandonment, psychosis, and narcissistic rage. The other study found that 60% of these perpetrators were suicidal and 40% homicidal.
The internal logic for family annihilation can stem from a number of sources.
David Wilson of Birmingham City University has divided these cases into four groups: anomic, disappointed, self-righteous and paranoid.
In this typology, the anomic killer sees his family purely as a status symbol; when his economic status collapses, he sees them as surplus to requirements. The disappointed killer seeks to punish the family for not living up to his ideals of family life. The self-righteous killer destroys the family to exact revenge upon the mother, in an act that he blames on her. Finally, the paranoid killer kills their family in what they imagine to be an attempt to protect them from something even worse.
Andrea Yates, June 20, 2001, Clear Lake City, Texas. Yates killed her five children, aged between six months and seven years.
Christian Longo, December 18, 2001, Lincoln County, Oregon. Longo killed his wife and three children.
Marcus Delon Wesson, March 12, 2004, Fresno, California. Wesson killed nine of his children/wives that he fathered through his legal wife and his polygamist wives who were also his daughters and nieces.
Neil Entwistle, January 20, 2006, Hopkinton, Massachusetts. Entwistle killed his wife and infant daughter.
Steven Sueppel, March 23 or March 24, 2008, Iowa City, Iowa. Sueppel killed his wife, their four children, and himself.
Christopher Foster, August 26, 2008, Maesbrook, Shropshire, England. Foster killed his wife, daughter, horses, and dogs in his luxury home with a rifle before setting the house on fire, dying himself.
William Parente, April 19-20, 2009, Towson, Maryland. Parente killed his wife, two daughters, and himself.
Dupont de Ligonnès murders and disappearance, April 2011, Nantes, Loire-Atlantique, France. The wife and four children of Xavier Dupont de Ligonnès were found murdered and buried at the family home. Xavier, the only suspect, disappeared and has never been found.
Schenecker double homicide, January 27, 2011, Tampa, Florida. Julie Schenecker murdered her two children while her husband, a U.S. Army officer, was deployed to Iraq.
Rzeszowski family murders, August 2011, St Helier, Jersey. Damian Rzeszowski stabbed to death his wife, his two small children, his father-in-law, his neighbor, and the neighbor's child. Sentenced to 30 years in prison, died in custody on 31 March 2018.
Powell murders, December 6, 2009, West Valley City, Utah, and February 5, 2012, Puyallup, Washington. Joshua Powell murdered his sons Charles and Braden by bludgeoning them and setting fire to the house he was renting in February 2012. He is also believed to have murdered his wife Susan Cox in December 2009. Powell committed suicide at the scene after killing his sons.
Cairns child killings, December 18-19, 2014, Cairns, Australia. Raina Mersane Ina Thaiday (AKA Mersane Warria) was alleged to have drugged and stabbed seven of her children and one of their cousins before attempting to kill herself. She was found not guilty by reason of insanity.
Van Breda murders, January 27, 2015, Stellenbosch, South Africa. Henri Christo Van Breda murdered his parents and brother and severely wounded his sister.
Broken Arrow killings, July 22, 2015, Broken Arrow, Oklahoma. Brothers Robert and Michael Bever murdered five family members (father, mother and three younger siblings). Two survived the attack, one unharmed. Robert and Michael were each charged with five consecutive counts of first-degree murder.
Hart family murders, March 26, 2018, near Westport, California. Jennifer and Sarah Hart deliberately drove off a cliff with their six adopted children out of fear that they would be found out as abusive parents.
Osmington shooting, May 11, 2018, Osmington, Western Australia. Peter Miles murdered his wife, daughter, and his four grandchildren before killing himself.
Watts family homicides, August 13, 2018, Frederick, Colorado. Chris Watts killed his pregnant wife Shanann and their two daughters.
Zaman family homicides, July 28, 2019, Markham, Ontario. Mehnaz Zaman killed his mother, father, sister, and grandmother inside their family home. 
Murder of Hannah Clarke, February 19, 2020, Camp Hill, Queensland, Australia. Rowan Baxter set fire to the interior of his wife's car, killing their three children, before killing himself. His wife Hannah would die later that day from her injuries.
Rates of individual homicide involving family members, not grouped by incidents of familicide, in the United States between 1980 and 2010.
Filicide - the killing of a child (or children) by one's own parent (or parents)
Infanticide - the killing of one's child (or children) up to 12 months of age
Mariticide - the killing of a husband or significant other; current common law term for either spouse of either sex/gender
^Scheinin, Lisa; Rogers, Christopher B.; Sathyavagiswaran, Lakshmanan (2011). "Familicide – Suicide". The American Journal of Forensic Medicine and Pathology. 32 (4): 327-330. doi:10.1097/paf.0b013e31821a555a. PMID21512375.
^Sachmann, Mark; Harris Johnson, Carolyn Mary (1 March 2014). "The Relevance of Long-Term Antecedents in Assessing the Risk of Familicide-Suicide Following Separation". Child Abuse Review. 23 (2): 130-141. doi:10.1002/car.2317. ISSN1099-0852.
^Machiavelli, Niccolò (1532). The Prince. chap. 4. Retrieved .