While many of us are lucky to be able to celebrate having an amazing mom, some women don’t have any business calling themselves mothers. We asked our resident expert and decorated former head field profiler for the FBI in San Francisco, Candice DeLong, what makes deadly moms tick. Below, DeLong sheds light on the seeming abundance of evil moms and the common traits among women who kill their own:
CrimeFeed: Do you think “bad” mothers are a growing trend? Or have deadly moms always been terrorizing their children?
Candice DeLong: Bad moms have been around since the dawn of time, they are not new. What is fairly new in the continuum of civilization is our ability to report news stories with lightning speed to tens of millions of people, and when moms kill their own children, that’s news.
Is there one common trait that you see across criminal mothers?
There are three predominant motivations I’ve noticed in these cases. One is that the child has become inconvenient to care for or its mere existence is intruding on the way mom wants to live her life. The second is “for profit.” These are mothers who insure their child’s life, then kill them to collect the money. The third major motivating factor is severe mental illness, such as schizophrenia. In these headline-grabbing cases, mom has totally lost her grip on reality.
Is it possible to reform a bad mom? Have you seen a deadly mother turn her life around?
If a mom kills her child so her life will be unencumbered, or kills them for profit, then I don’t believe there is any hope. They are psychopaths, and there’s no cure for that. If a mom kills because she was psychotic (delusional, hearing voices), such as Andrea Yates (top, main photos), their illness can be treated with medication and psychotherapy, but not cured forever. In such cases, I don’t think they should ever be a mother again or even around children. If it happened once, it could happen again if the medication isn’t taken.
From your experience, is there a weapon of choice among deadly mothers?
When this unspeakable crime happens intentionally, it’s almost always a very “hands on” murder. Smothering a sleeping child, drowning a naive toddler, staging an “accident,” such as a house fire, or beating a child to death are all methods frequently seen. Shooting and stabbing are more rare. In the worst cases, the victim may be slowly tortured and starved to death. Special place in hell for those deadly moms.Related: Experts Reveal What Can Drive Moms To Kill Their Kids
Which deadly mom (alive or dead) would you most like to interview?
Diane Downs. In 1984 she loaded her three very young children into her car late at night. She drove to a deserted country road and shot them, killing the youngest. Then she drove them to a hospital and told police a “bushy-haired man” stopped her on the road, and shot them The jury didn’t buy it, and she still maintains her innocence. She’s a violent, narcissistic psychopath— the worst kind.
Watch Candice DeLong in the new ID Digital series Deadly Women: Quick Hits on ID GO now!
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Main photos: Andrea Yates’s mug shot [Texas Department of Criminal Justice]