Perfect Family, Mass Murder
The average parricide is one who has been severely abused physically, sexually or verbally through their entire early childhood and view murder as the last alternative. (Heidi). But when there is no abuse present, what would drive a child to kill their parents? These two categories only create less than ten-percent of the parricide offenders. In May of 1998 Kip Kinkel became a part of the statistics.
Coming from a loving household Kip’s mother and father, Bill and Faith Kinkel were both teachers. The Kinkel’s were a loving and caring family highly admired in the community for their volunteer work and genuine character. Faith was vibrant and enthusiastic when she taught Spanish at the Springfield High School. At one point she was named Springfield’s “Outstanding Teacher of the Year”( Hornblower et al.). Her husband, Bill was very similar. He was friendly and always eager to help with anything. Kip also had an older sister Kristen who was six years his senior. She was the All- American girl, cheerleader, petite, popular and straight-A student. The family was almost too good to be true.
Kip was different from his sister from the beginning. Academically, Kip had learning problems in school. His parents met with teachers and counselors to try and develop a plan that could help their son. After many failed attempts, during the fourth grade, the Kinkels’ took Kip to therapy. The therapist diagnosed Kip with attention deficit disorder (ADD) and placed him on Ritalin. A subsequent therapist later prescribed Prozac for his depression (Hammer). Three years late the Kinkels’ had to withdraw him from school. Neither the drugs or the therapy sessions were working. With no other options left, they stated because of his “poor academic performance” he might be better suited with an at home tutor. Behind this explaination was that Kip had started to get into some fairly serious trouble. First, he and three other friends tried to order bomb building books through the schools internet. The boys got caught when the books were delivered to the bank where the kids had obtained the money order for purchase. The same year he started to shoplift with some other friends and again tried to order bomb building books and this time was successful” ( Horn blower et al.).
Kip started study the books religiously, and became successful at building bombs. First, the bombs started simple but soon escalated. His parents found the books and considered intensive therapy. Kip soon became obsessive over guns and even asked his father to buy him one. Bill quickly refused, but fearing that he was losing his son he thought that if he bought him a gun it would be a way for them to connect. Therefore, Bill bought him a .22-calliber semiautomatic Ruger rifle as a Christmas present. Kip loved guns. His father, eager to form a bond with his son, bought him more. Instead of the guns bringing Bill and Kip more together, they just made Kip more aggressive (Hammer).
On May 20th, 1998 Kip bought a .32 caliber Beretta semiautomatic pistol, loaded with a 9 round clip from a friend. The gun was later found in a paper bag in his locker (Begley et al.). He was arrested, fingerprinted, photographed and charged with five felonies including possession of a firearm in school grounds. He was interrogated and during the interrogation stated that he had no intent in using the weapon he just liked guns. He was later released into his father’s custody. Around 2 p.m. that day he and his father returned home. It was assumed that Kip found his way into his father’s gun cabinet. It was assumed that he shot his father around 3:30 p.m and later killed his mother around 6:30 p.m after she arrived home from a retirement party. Kip stated later on that the reason for killing his parents was that he did not want them to be embarrassed by him. He did not know how the other teacher, his parents friends where going to think of him.
The next day he went back to his high school, Thurston High School and “shortly before 8 a.m. Kinkel allegedly opened fire on his fellow students, shooting some at point-blank rage. In less than a minute Kip fired 50 rounds from a .22-caliber Ruger semiautomatic rifle. Afterwards police said he then paused to reload. Twenty four students were wounded, two of them fatally” (King et al.). He was later sentenced to 111 years in prison, without the possibility of parole, after he plead guilty to four counts of murder and twenty-six counts of attempted murder (http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/kinkel/kip/cron.html).
Many believed that Kip was mentally ill and that was why he committed was so fascinated by guns, bombs and exploded to such an extreme that he killed four people and injured twenty-two more. Dr. Jeffrey Hicks had met with Kip before the shootings and did not believe he was mentally ill. He did find Kip to be depressed and angry so he recommended Prozac in order to stabilize his depression. Dr. Jeffrey Hicks stated that he did not find Kip to be psychotic or delusion and between their nine sessions he never mentioned he heard voices (http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/kinkel/trial/#4).
Even though Dr. Jeffrey Hicks did not believe that Kip had a mental illness two other psychologist did. Dr. Bolstad concluded that Kip “suffered from a psychotic disorder with major paranoid symptoms, potentially some form of early onset schizophrenia (http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/kinkel/trial/#4). Bolstad gave Kip numerous tests which revealed that Kip “was very depressed, alienated child who sees adults as unfair, arbitrary and untrustworthy. He has very low self esteem, and is manipulative and paranoid” (http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/kinkel/trial/#4). Bolstad also stated that Kip had hallucinations which he described to Bolstad in details and where even written in his journals. The conclusion made by Dr. Bolstad where supported by Dr. William Sack who also stated that Kip was a very psychotic individual. “There had also been a history of mental illness in Kip’s extended family which included schizophrenia” (http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/kinkel/trial/#4.)
There are not many occasions when mentally ill children kill, unless they loose contact with reality and this was the case. His journal writings, statements and even doodles which were from class papers attests to the fact that Kip was not in contact with reality. According to Dr. Heide, Kip had five out of the twelve characteristics of kids who kill (Heidi). First, there where attempts to get help which failed miserable. Next, Kip had attempted to commit suicide and wrote about it in his personal journal. Kip also felt the inability to cope with what was happening to him. Guns and bombs were his own way of self-medicating. Kip also had no criminal record and many guns were available in the household which clearly according to Dr. Heide gave him five characteristics of children who kill.
Kinkel if left untreated is most likely to kill again. The characteristics of violence and hallucination which he portrays are considered a threat to society. The sentencing judge stated in his concluding statements; “To me, this was a clear statement that the protection of society in general was to be of more importance than the possible reformation or rehabilitation of any individual defendant,” and that “… my focus must be much broader than the possible reformation or rehabilitation of Mr. Kinkel” (http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/kinkel/kip). The judge realize that the psychologist believed that” with long-term and extensive medical and therapeutic treatment, Kip might not pose a danger to society if set free, but that at the same time, there was no guaranteed cure for Kip’s condition, and that it was unlikely that it would ever be safe to let him be free without extensive supervision and support services” (http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/kinkel/kip). There was no real cure for Kinkel the damage was done, and his mental state was threat to society.
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