- The Washington Times - Monday, June 24, 2002

Stories of parents who kill their children always will be rare enough to hold the power to shock, but it is still uncertain what's behind a recent rash of such reports here in the greater Washington area.
Some analysts say these crimes could be evidence that more parents are killing their offspring as a way to get revenge against a spouse who is threatening to leave and take the children.
In two of the three local cases in the past month, fathers killed themselves after taking their children's lives.
In a third, the father is reported to have attempted suicide. "But this isn't just about killing themselves. It's about punishing the wife," said Julie Blackman, a social psychologist and forensic consultant in New York and New Jersey.
The main reason parents take their own lives after their children's, Miss Blackman said, is because they don't want "to live with the consequences" of their criminal actions.
Nancy Ruhe-Munch, executive director of the 100,000-member Cincinnati-based National Organization of Parents of Murdered Children, said she shares Miss Blackman's opinions. She said cases in which a parent kills a natural child are "not as rare as you might think; normally, it's a stepparent. But it's not uncommon for the parent himself [to kill his offspring]. Usually, it's the father."
Ms. Ruhe-Munch also said that filicides the murder of sons or daughters by a parent usually occur when the wife in a relationship decides she no longer can tolerate the control and abuse by her spouse and makes it clear she is leaving with the youngsters.
The husband, she said, then may decide to kill the children "to punish his wife for taking them away."
The motive, Ms. Ruhe-Munch said, is to use the murder-suicide to hurt the partner in the worst way and leave them feeling guilty. "He's saying: 'Now you'll have to live with what you made me do.' He refuses to acknowledge blame for what has happened," she said.
Research from the FBI found that since 1990, parents and caretakers have killed about 10,000 children.
Another study found that 51 percent of child homicide victims were killed by parents or stepparents; 10 percent were killed by the sexual partner of the parent; and 6 percent were killed by an adult relative.
Federal studies indicate that fathers are more likely than mothers to perpetrate multiple homicides in a family, but exceptions such as Andrea Yates, who drowned her five children in a bathtub, exist. Postpartum depression was found to be a factor in those slayings.
Wayne Lord, well-published unit chief of the FBI's Child Abduction and Serial Murder Investigative Resource Center at Quantico, also said men are more likely to murder their children for revenge. "You see a lot of domestic-related homicides" of children which are sparked by "anger and emotion," he said.
Fairfax County police said "domestic relations" led Suhail Ilyas, 53, owner of a convenience store near his Woodlawn home, to shoot to death his two young sons, Aaron, 14, and Zak, 11, before turning the gun on himself Tuesday morning.
The boy's mother, Kathy Ilyas, was in the shower getting ready to take her sons to Texas, where her relatives live, when she heard the gunshots.
Police refused to say if she was planning to leave her husband or was just going on vacation.
Some neighbors interviewed speculated that Mr. Ilyas, who is from Pakistan, was trying to hurt his wife. If that was his goal, he succeeded.
His wife was devastated and kept crying to her neighbors: "My babies dead, my babies dead" after finding her sons' bodies.
"You're probably mostly looking at revenge in this case. He thought he owned the boys and could do with them as he chose," Miss Blackman said.
Robert Emmett Filippi, 43, of Columbia in Howard County, has been charged with first-degree murder in the strangulation deaths of his daughters, Lindsey, 2, and Nicole, 4, on June 9. Mr. Filippi and his wife, Naoko Nakajima, 29, had been involved in a bitter divorce and custody battle since January.
Reports said Mr. Filippi had been worried that his wife would return to Japan, her homeland, with her daughters. In his divorce papers, he said she took the girls to Japan last June and stayed six weeks longer than promised.
During a bail review hearing, Deputy State's Attorney I. Matthew Campbell said Mr. Filippi left a note for his wife at the home, which read, "You can go back now."

Sign up for Daily Newsletters

Manage Newsletters

Copyright © 2020 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

Please read our comment policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide