A horrific story of homicide out of Tampa, Fla., is seeing national headlines not because of the rarity of and heinous nature of the crime — that of a mother allegedly murdering her own children — but because of the reason she gave the police for committing the acts. Julie Schenecker, 50-year-old mother of two, was taken into custody Friday after Hillsborough County Sheriff’s deputies responded to a call from Schenecker’s mother, who expressed worry about her daughter’s welfare. WTSP in Tampa reported that police statements indicated that Schenecker provided in detail her actions, saying that her children “talked back” and were “mouthy.”
“She did tell us that they talked back, that they were mouthy,” Laura McElroy, Tampa Bay spokeswoman, told WTSP. “But I don’t think that will ever serve as an explanation to the rest of us of how you could take a child’s life.”
Schenecker was found in blood-drenched clothing on her back yard by Hillsborough Country officers Friday morning, according to the police report. They had responded to a call from Schenecker’s mother in Texas, who said her daughter had sounded depressed.
Officers found 13-year-old Beau Powers Schenecker, a student at Liberty Middle, dead in the family’s SUV, which was found inside the garage. Calyx Powers Schenecker, 16, a sophomore student at King High School, was found in an upstairs bedroom, also dead. Both teenagers had been shot to death.
“The mother was taken downtown [to Tampa Police headquarters],” McElroy said. “She described the crimes in detail to the detectives.” She was charged with first-degree murder.
The suspect was later taken to Tampa General Hospital for treatment of a condition she had developed prior to being charged with the murders.
Police were slow to identify the family publicly due to Schenecker’s husband being stationed in the Middle East. Parker Schenecker is a colonel with U.S. Army Intelligence. He is currently stationed in Qatar.
It is as yet unclear — at least on a public level — the circumstances within which the killings took place, but preliminary indications seem consistent with an act prompted by depression, perhaps triggered by one or both of her children being “mouthy.” As unconscionable as that motive for murder might seem, there are others that seem as unfathomable as the Schenecker tragedy.
A 22-year-old Jacksonville woman pled guilty in October to shaking her baby to death in January when the 3-month-old began crying. The Florida Times-Union reported she told police she had become angry with the child for interrupting her while playing the online game FarmVille.
At an inquest in England on Friday, 28-year-old Samanthan Tolley, told an inquest about the phone call she received from her estranged husband, Keith Young, on the day he allowed carbon monoxide to the life of their four young children. Cruelly, he had them say good-bye to their mother, according to The Daily Mail. Authorities found the children, still in their pajamas and the father later that day, March 27. Apparently, Young had found out that Tolley (her maiden name) had become pregnant again by another man and in a pique of desperate jealousy, committed his unconscionable act.
The reasons that parents use to explain infanticide range from post-partum depression and the hearing of supernatural voices prompting one to kill to desperate acts brought on by the stressors of unemployment or a failed relationship. Regardless of reason, those explanations often fail to sway, just as Julie Schenecker’s excuse that her teens were “talking back” or being “mouthy,” a common non-homicide-inducing lament of parents of teens, will no doubt fall on deaf ears.
Eric Glasser, “Julie Schenecker, New Tampa mom and wife of Army Colonel Parker Schenecker, accused of murdering her children Calyx and Beau,” WTSP.com