Category Archives: Record of the Dead
Trigger warning for discussion of murder of people with disabilities.
When we first discussed keeping a record of the names of people with disabilities whose murders or mysterious deaths had made the news, we thought it would be something we’d post four times a year. We started gathering the names with the expectation the first posting would be in December.
And these lists are incomplete. Many come from news stories that we just come across in our daily reading. I have set up a Google News Alert for anything that comes up with some variation on “disability +dead”, with various diagnoses added in every month. The most recent month has 32 names, but the two previous ones had 27.
The causes of death are disturbingly similar in their repetition.
September included one house fire, 10 people murdered by family members (of which four had been starved to death), 1 person murdered by unrelated caregivers, and three men of colour shot to death by police officers.
October included four house fires, four people murdered by family, three people murdered by unrellated caregivers, and two people killed by police, one of whom was killed through use of a stun-gun. Both were men, one with a mental health diagnosis, the other with a cognitive disability.
November included one house fire, eight people murdered by family members, one of whom was starved to death, two murdered by care givers, and four shot to death by police. Three of these cases involved men with mental health conditions, although the fourth, a man who was a full-time wheelchair user, was ruled a suicide.
I’ve read every one of the news reports I’ve linked to, and many more besides. There are things that stand out: house fires, when they’re not deliberately lit, kill people with mobility-related disabilities who can’t get out. Police officers have shot men whose families have called them because their family member is having a breakdown and they don’t know who else to call: they are aware they’re being called to the home of someone with a mental health condition. When defending a family member for smothering a disabled relative to death, the defense attorney will inevitably point out that this was a crime that the defendant is unlikely to repeat, being a crime against a disabled dependent.
I also learned that there will be weeks of outrage in national papers about disabled parking passes being abused. There will not be weeks of outrage in national papers about care centers restraining autistic youths until one of them dies.
Very few cases came up more than once. Exceptions were one of the police shootings (John Williams) and the disappearance of Zahra Clare Baker, a 10 year old white girl who was deaf and had cancer. Many missing cases of people with disabilities would only make the news after their bodies had been discovered, having been missing for three days.
What I have learned, after doing this for only three months? I don’t have the ability to do it anymore. I don’t have the ability to list the names of our dead every month, to keep track of how many of us are murdered by family while others shake their head and turn away. I don’t have the ability to really look at what all this means, if it means anything. I want to know why police officers shoot people they know have mental health conditions for behaving like people who have mental health conditions. I want to know why our lives are rated so cheaply that starving us to death might not even result in charges being laid. I want to know why our murders are so common, and yet so rarely talked about.
Or maybe I don’t.
Ableism, as I’ve said before, kills. It kills because family members in desperate situations have no place to turn to while political pundits bravely say the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) has gone to far. It kills because family members have no idea who to call when someone they love is having difficulties coping with a mental health condition, so they call the police who come with guns. It kills because care centers that pit children in fights against each other for snacks at break time, for the amusement of the staff, are allowed to stay open until someone actually dies. It kills because there are so many news reports after certain types of murders that position the parent of a disabled child as having done the brave thing, the right thing, the thing all right-thinking people would do. It kills because the rhetoric of how having a child with a disability is so terrible that even the thought that maybe a child might have a disability is reason enough for some parents to kill their children, rather than seek assistance that might not even be there.
We are always, always, in a fight for our lives, and the lives of each other.
Trigger warning for discussion of murder and abuse of people with disabilities. This month’s list also includes disabled people who were victims of sex-based crimes before their deaths.
This list of November media reports about people with disabilities murdered or dying under strange circumstances is presented without commentary, but that doesn’t mean that there’s nothing people may want to discuss about it in comments. I do not believe for a moment that this list is complete. It is sorted alphabetically by last name. Almost all links are to news reports.
“Amanda” (unidentified by any other name; police have not released her name), 23, back injuries that required a walker to get around, Flint, Michigan, November 16. “Someone had hit her with a car, and left her to die.”
Cynthia Burns, 58, stroke and undefined physical disabilities, Wylie, Texas, April 2009. “The 5-foot-5 woman weighed 54 pounds when she died.”
Thomas Boyle, two broken hips, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, November 17. Died in a house fire.
Cynthia Cline, 51, “mentally disabled”, East Liverpool, Ohio, November 13. She was stabbed once in the abdomen by her boyfriend.
Antonio Quinton Clarke, 15, learning disabilities, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, November 25, 2007. “He was so badly beaten, his face was unrecognizable.” No one has been charged.
Amanda Cooper, 10, “developmentally disabled”, Los Angeles, California, November 27. “Authorities are investigating whether she was killed as part of a sexual assault.”
Laura Cummings, 23, “mentally troubled”, North Collins, Massachusettes, January 21, 2010. Her mother smothered her with a pillow; her half-brother is facing charges of sexual abuse against Laura. The prosecutor described her “depraved and horrific mistreatment of her daughter and her post-plea claims that her daughter’s misconduct led to her own death.”
Jennifer Daugherty, 30, “mentally disabled”, Greensburg, Pennsylvania, February 11, 2010. “One of Jennifer Daugherty’s alleged killers described in gruesome detail Monday how the six suspects repeatedly tortured the mentally disabled woman for 48 hours before they voted to kill her.” They killed her by “repeatedly stabbing” her for 30 minutes, then slit her throat.
Tiffany Demus, 31, “cerebral palsy and the mentality of an 8-year-old”, Arlington, Texas, sometime during the week of November 22. The only details as of this writing are that she was found dead in a park after having run away from home following a family argument.
Dawn Driver, 60, schizophrenia, affective psychosis and chronic anxiety, Leyland, UK, July 23, 2010. After receiving anti-psychotic medication, she jumped to her death in front of a train.
Loren Donn Leslie, 15, blind, Vanderhoof, British Columbia, Canada, November 27. Police are not releasing the cause of her death. She was found dead on the side of a rural road. Police have a friend of hers in custody.
Luella Edge, 80, “Alzheimer’s disease and was a paranoid schizophrenic”, Bellaire, Ohio, some time after April 30. She had disappeared from her retirement home 7 months ago; her remains were found in a wooded area near-by.
Lynsie Ekelund, 20, partially paralyzed, Santa Clarita Canyon, California, sometime after Feb. 17, 2001. Her murderer recently confessed to raping and strangling her on the way to a party.
Ila Gandhi, 62, schizophrenia, Mumbai, Maharashtra, India, November 14. Strangled in her secured building. Her mother was also seriously injured.
Paul Harden, 25, undefined mental health condition related to PTSD, St Helens, UK, October 29. Unexplained drug overdose.
Ryan Hughes, autism, ADHD, Newcastle, Co Wicklow, Republic of Ireland, September 3, 2009. Choked to death on a latex glove while being cared for at a respite facility. His death was ruled accidental.
Tom Inglis, 22, brain damage, London, England, November 21 2008. Lethal injection of heroine administered by his mother, who barricaded the door to his room and super-glued the door closed. [More details about this case]
Joan Johnston, 57, used a mobility scooter, Scarborough, UK. The doctor who hit her vehicle in a head-on collision has been fined but not held in jail because his “contribution to society in your everyday work is extensive.” Yes, he will not get more than a fine because Joan was apparently partly responsible for her own death for being fat and having a mobility scooter in her vehicle.
Linda Lee Yee Lin, 12, “had limited use of her legs and could not walk unaided”, Singapore, date unknown, news report looks like it was sometime mid-November 2010. Found dead at the foot of a block of flats. “It is not known which floor she fell from.” [More about this case]
Clara Laird, 86, dementia, Seal Beach, California, November 21. Shot by her husband while in a nursing home.
Samuel Mason, 61, unspecified mental and physical disabilities, Jackson, Mississippi, November 16. Samuel has just died from injuries from a beating outside of his home on July 10, 2010. There are no leads in his case.
Eddie Maddick, 45, epilepsy, Millbrook, Hampshire, UK, July 28, 2001. Stomped to death.
Doug Minty, 59, “mentally challenged”, Elmvale, Ontario, June 22, 2009. Died from multiple gunshot wounds after being shot outside his mother’s home by Huronia West OPP Const. Graham Seguin.
Jeffrey Munro, 32, schizophrenia, Toronto, Ontario, November 7, 2009. He was found beaten to death in his jail cell.
Richard Steven Poccia, 60, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, Napa, California, November 29. “The victim’s wife had called police for assistance at about 3 p.m., police said. Her husband was described as “possibly suicidal,” they said. … One officer Tasered the man while another shot him.”
Christy Russell, 35, wheelchair user, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, November 8. Hit and killed by an SUV in an area with no sidewalks. Another wheelchair user was killed last month in the same area. The city passed an ordinance four years ago that sidewalks should be built. [More details about this case. The video describes further details about the accident.]
Shayne Richard Sime, 42, spinal disease, Christchurch, New Zealand, June 28, 2009. Shot to death by police officers, his death has been ruled a suicide.
Levi Schaeffer, 30, schizophrenia, Thunder Bay, Ontario, June 24, 2009. Shot by a provincial police officer.
Ajit Singh, 12, autistic, London, England, February 9, 2010. His mother forced him to drink bleach, and then tried to kill herself by drinking bleach herself. Please note that the news reports indicate that Singh’s mother has been diagnosed with a psychiatric condition.
Jorene White, 59, “bedridden and suffered from debilitating arthritis”, Madison, Ohio, July 23, 2010. “Jorene died in July from blood infection caused by maggots, who laid eggs in her body.” Her husband plead guilty to reckless homicide. “The prosecutor calls the case “sad.” “She had open bed sores. The sores had gotten to the point that her body had started decomposing and then the body starts decomposing, the flies move in and lay their eggs and start to eat their flesh while she is still alive.””
Beryl Webb, 75, histrionic personality disorder, fibromyalgia, Sheffield, UK, May 14, 2010. He husband smothered her to death. He claims she wanted to commit suicide; her diary claims “Hugh dreadful. Wants me dead. Hates me because of my mobility problems.”
Unnamed 16 year old boy, undefined disabilities, but he was in a “treatment center” for people with “pervasive developmental disorders, emotional disorders, are hearing impaired or mentally impaired”, Manvel, Texas, November 5. “Restraint techniques were used to subdue the child”, death is thought to be by asphyxiation.
Torture In US Prisons by Stephen Lendman discusses the torture of inmates in US prisons, including prisoners with disabilities. Please note this is very graphic in its descriptions.
Calls come after a report of 13 deaths of children and young adults at North Side home since 2000, Illinois. “Among the proposals: raising fines and sending cases to a medical examiner’s office. One advocate suggested that facility operators who run poor homes shouldn’t be allowed to acquire new ones. “How many dead kids are you going to get a pass on?” asked Wendy Meltzer, executive director for Illinois Citizens for Better Care.”
On the mental health side, the examples too are, in the words of one observer, “Dickensian,” with suicides averaging one a week, and the number of preventable suicides rising dramatically.
The murderer of Phillip Holmes has received a life sentence. “The judge said Mather had shown no remorse for the murder of Mr Holmes, who was described in court as a “gentle, vulnerable man””
The body of Zahra Clare Baker has been found. As of this writing police have not laid charges.
An inquiry into the murderer of John Williams has found the shooting was not justified.
Please note that this list focuses on the murder of people with disabilities.
This list of October 2010 media reports about people with disabilities murdered or dying under strange circumstances is presented without commentary, but that doesn’t mean that there’s nothing people may want to discuss about it in comments. I do not believe for a moment that this list is complete. It is sorted alphabetically by last name. Almost all links are to news reports.
Salvatore Agostino, 73, undefined disabilities, Tampa, Florida, October 20. “Upper body trauma”, Agostino’s store was robbed as well.
Zahra Clare Baker, 10, Deaf, cancer, prosthetic limb, Hickory, North Carolina, sometime after 9 October. As of this writing, Zahra’s body hasn’t been found.
Jessie Buchsbaum, 17, learning disabilities, Boyertown, Pensylvania, October 25. Jesse committed suicide after being bullied by classmates for being disabled.
Damian Clough, 12, autism and “learning difficulties”, Keighley, England, April 4, 2009. Died in a deliberately-set house fire. The inside handle on Damian’s bedroom door had been torn off. [More details about this case.]
Byron DeBassige, 28, schizophrenia, Toronto, Ontario, February 16, 2008. Shot by police in a confrontation over two stolen lemons.
Mario Eder, 55, spinal cord injury, speech difficulties, unspecified cognitive disability, Waianae, Hawaii, US, October 1. House fire.
Linda Gibbs, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, October 5. Hit by a car while crossing the street.
Brian Goh Kah Heng, 19, Petaling Jaya, Malaysia, October 23. Severe internal injuries and bruises, ruptured spleen and severe injuries to his anus. The care center where Goh was living has since been closed.
Kevin Geyer, 19, undefined cognitive disabilities, Wilkinsburg, Pennsylvania, October 26. Shot in the back during an apparent robbery.
Francecca Hardwick, 18, “severely disabled”, Barwell, England, 2009. Mother killed herself and Francecca after years of bullying, police are currently being sued for not doing anything to end it.
Ernie Hernandez Jr., 37, “developmentally disabled”, Modesto, California, August 14. Stabbed to death.
Philip Holmes, 56, undefined physical disabilities resulting from a work-related accident, Rhyl, Denbighshire, United Kingdom, April 16, 2010. His body was discovered by his caretaker, having been “severely assaulted.”
Patrick Johnson, 18, “had the intelligence level of a 5- to 7-year-old”, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Died after police used a “stun gun” twice on him, after being called to assist the family.
Courtland Lucas, 32, heart condition & pacemaker, St. Louis, Missouri, May 25, 2009. Died in jail because he was not given the medication he needed to survive. Other cases of people with disabilities in prison not receiving the health care they needed are also discussed in the news report.
David Lauberts, 50, undefined disabilities, Greeley, Colorado, Sept. 25, 2009. Apparently died sometime before the house fire his brother set to hide the death, Lauberts was found to have bedsores that had eaten through to his bones.
Jonathan Lowbridge, 20, undefined psychiatric-related disabilities, Reading, Berkshire, UK, May 23, 2008. Lowbridge was a voluntary patient who was supposed to be under close supervision due to suicide attempts, he escaped from the hospital and killed himself.
Shannon McLean, 39, “a rare disorder that left her immobilized and in bed nearly 24 hours a day”, Caesarea, Ontario, October 3. House fire.
Wieslawa Zofia Pytlinski, 57, undisclosed disabilities, Knox County, Tennessee, October 4. She died “of multiple blunt force trauma to the upper body”, murdered by her boyfriend.
Donnie “Butch” Phillips, 50, “developmentally disabled”, Wilkesboro, North Carolina, September 29. Choked to death on an outing from his group home. His caregiver has been charged with second-degree murder.
Brian Sinclair, 45, “double amputee with a speech impediment”, Winnipeg, Manitoba, September 19, 2008. Died of a bladder infection while waiting in the emergency ward of Winnipeg’s largest hospital.
Jaffar Shah, “lost his legs in a car accident”, Nazimabad, Sindh, Pakistan, October 22. Shah, a disability rights activist, was shot while playing with his 2 year old son outside his home. His death sparked multiple protests.
Joanne Sexton, 56, undefined disabilities that included being hooked up to oxygen tanks, Springfield, Massachusetts, October 19. House fire.
Henry David Vernon, 55, “deaf, mute, developmentally disabled and mentally ill”, Tacoma, Washington, July 29, 2009. Hyperthermia while in a group home. His temperature had reached 107 F/41.7 C.
Leonard Alfred Willson III, 53, paraplegic, Bath, South Carolina, sometime in the week before October 7. Murdered. Two people have been charged in his death, one of whom Willson was tutoring in school.
Lemuel Wallace, blind and cognitive disabilities, Baltimore, Maryland, February 4, 2009. Gunshot to the head. “A year and a half after Baltimore police uncovered a murder-for-hire scheme in which they say two men conspired to kill a blind and mentally disabled man for insurance money, detectives believe they have found the man who pulled the trigger.”
News Reports regarding allegations of abuse in long-term care homes:
- Failing to prevent a Northwest Care resident with a known history of drinking potentially harmful liquids from doing it twice: first a bottle of floor cleaner and later a 1.75-liter bottle of mouthwash containing 26.9 percent alcohol. The resident was hospitalized after the mouthwash incident with a blood-alcohol level of 0.42 percent — more than five times the legal limit
- nadequately supervising group home residents, including three who were left alone at a community basketball game; one who was left in a hot, locked car and unable to get out while a staff member went shopping; and another who was found wandering in the street at 3:30 a.m. after a staff member had fallen asleep.
- Locking a Northwest Care resident alone in his room for two hours despite his reported screams to be freed. Investigators said the facility had previously used this type of discipline in violation of state law and had reversed the resident’s door handle so it could be locked from the hallway.
- M.C., 48, “mentally challenged” and schizophrenia, died after being raped, October 12, 2006
- In April 2006, a resident at a home in Lehigh Acres was admitted to a hospital with a facial cut and a fungal infection. He passed away soon after.
- In July 2006, a resident at the same property perished after choking on a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.
- In August 2006, a man living in another of the Campbells’ group homes in Miami expired of a suspected bowel obstruction two days after entering a hospital.
Trigger Warning for discussion of abuse and murder of people with disabilities.
This list of September media reports about people with disabilities murdered or dying under strange circumstances is presented without commentary, but that doesn’t mean that there’s nothing people may want to discuss about it in comments. I do not believe for a moment that this list is complete. It is sorted alphabetically by last name. Almost all links are to news reports.
Joseph Abdo, 68, multiple sclerosis, Castleton Corners, NY. Died in a house fire.
Shah Amin, 19, “intellectually disabled”, Marsiling, Singapore, September 26. Found strangled in his hotel room after the body of his father was found in a nearby park.
Leosha Barnett, 17, epilepsy and undefined mental disabilities, Fort Worth, Texas, May 21. Starved by her mother and sister.
Jeffrey Bishop, 53, undefined physical disabilities, Louisville, Kentucky, sometime in the first week of September. Strangled by roommates/care-givers, who left his body in the basement so they could collect his disability cheques. [Indictment]
Kimberly “Kimmie” Daily, 16, developmentally disabled, Puyallup, Washington, August 17. Raped and murdered. A neighbour is charged in her death.
Payton Ettinger, 4, “mental and physical disabilities”, Greensburg, Indiana, May 17. Malnutrition and dehydration. He weighed 12 pounds at his death.
Earl Handy Jr, 39, Deaf, Conroe, Texas, September 24. Found dead in his cell from suicide. [He was in isolation to protect him because he was Deaf]
Ernie Hernandez, Jr., 37, “mentally disabled”, Modesto, California , August 14. Stabbed to death.
Gerren Isgrigg, 6, unstated “severe medical issues”, Wylie, Texas, April 15. Left exposed in a wooded area by his primary caregiver, his grandmother, he died two days later. “She felt like she was being punished by having to take care of the child.”
Albert David Jenkins Jr, 53, undefined disablities, Mobile, Alabama, May 2008. Shot in the back 7 times; the shooter plead guilty.
Reyal Jensen Jardine-Douglas, 25, undefined mental illness, Toronto, Ontario, August 29. Shot by police called by family for assistance.
Frederick Jones, early 20s, “outpatient care”, Kansas City, Kansas, September 3. Fatally shot at a gas station, died in hospital.
David Lauberts, 50, “developmentally disabled”, Greeley, Colorado, September 2009. His brother pleaded “no contest” to charges of criminally negligent homicide. Cause of death included “active caretaker neglect”.
Teresa Lewis, 41, “She’s not mentally retarded, but she is very, very close to it”, Jarrat, Virginia, September 23. Lethal injection.
Tia McShane, age at death unknown (would now be 11), cerebral palsy, Pensacola, Florida, remains found September 30. “A disabled child’s remains appear to have been found in a Pensacola storage unit, bringing a heartbreaking end to a month long search for a girl whose absence raised no alarm for years.”
Darren O’Connor, 19, partially paralyzed, South Tyneside, UK, July 7. He was discovered with breathing difficulties while in police custody and died in hospital.
Jeremy Price, 18, “had an IQ at the level of mental retardation” and had escaped from a mental health facility, Mattapan, Massachusetts, September 6. Shot by police officers.
Rylan Rochester, 6 months, “thought to be autistic”, Boulder, Colorado, June 1. Smothered by his mother.
David Skelly, 53, “learning difficulties”, Liverpool, England, September 14. Punched to death by an unknown assailant.
Rohit Singh, 7, “physically challenged”, Bathinda, Punjab. Hammered to death by his father.
Regina Wynn, 87, Alzheimer’s, Richmond, Virginia, Early September. Abuse and Neglect, she died in hospital with bruises on her chest, abdomen, arms, hands and on the front of her head.
John T. Williams, 50, deaf in one ear, arthritic, Ditidaht member of the Nuu-chah-nulth First Nations of Canada’s Vancouver Island, living in Seattle. Shot four times in the chest by police officers. [Hundreds Protest police shooting of Native American Carver, Here is a petition you can sign]
Two unnamed men, 87 and 83, “wheelchair bound” and “senile dementia”, Madrid, Spain, September 18. Died after being left in a hot van for 11 hours.