Kids certainly don’t always get along with their parents. But we hope the tension never turns ugly enough for the kids to haul off and kill them.

Kevin Black/submitted photo

Kevin Black/submitted photo

Such was allegedly the case earlier this week when 50-year old Kevin Black reportedly shot and killed his stepfather, Kenneth Phipps, 76.

Mom was in the house at the time of the shooting, although she is bedridden and suffers from dementia, police said. Black’s half-sister, age 47, was also there; she’s the one who ran outside yelling for help.

Police said the fatal shooting came during an argument between stepfather and son about Black walking around the house wearing a gun belt. Black had also been on the police’s radar in the past for stealing things from his family to feed his drug habit.

Kids who kill off their parents or stepparents usually do so a tad earlier than the age of 50 – since the younger kids can’t just pick up and leave as an adult can – but no matter what the age, the outcome is just as tragic.

Some of the most recent statistics, which are already 20 years old, determined more than 300 parents were killed by their children each year between 1977 and 1986. That’s about 25 dead moms or pops each month. Compared to other murders, that’s also very rare.

Parent-killing children generally fall into three types, according to parricide expert Kathleen Heide.

Sidewalk art anonymous/Photo Ryn Gargulinski

Sidewalk art anonymous/Photo Ryn Gargulinski

We have the kids who were cruelly abused; those who are suffering from mental illness; and the most dangerous of the bunch – the uncaring and selfish children afflicted with an antisocial personality disorder. This disorder is marked with, among other things, a blatant disregard of pretty much everyone’s rights but their own.

Never mind the commandment about honoring thy father and mother, kids who murder their parents are already breaking an even bigger rule.

Lizzie Borden was perhaps the most notorious of suspected parent killers, although she was acquitted of the 1892 crime.

Tensions were high in the Borden household when Lizzie purportedly hacked her dad and stepmother to death with an axe, some say after poisoning them didn’t work. One theory is it had something to do with seizures she was having during her menstrual cycle.

The Menendez brothers, who were convicted of gunning down their parents in 1989, are also up there on the notoriety list. Although they were brought up in a mansion and both college students when the crime went down, there are claims their dad was too tough on them.

By all means, then, shoot him.

It was later learned the double murder may have been all about the money.

My current true crime read, Cold Kill, is in the midst of outlining another slain parents tale of woe in 1982.

Adult child Cindy Ray Campbell spun skeins of delusional lies about how horribly her parents had treated her growing up. She was chained to the toilet. She was repeatedly raped.

Her boyfriend David West believed the lies. He also believed he’d get half her inheritance if he helped out his gal. So she finally convinced him to blow them away as they slept.

While we may not know every detail in these crimes, like what the heck goes through a child’s head when he pulls the trigger or she wields that ax, we do know that society’s view of parricide has gotten softer.

What once was totally and horrendously unthinkable is now, well, perhaps in some cases nearly justifiable.

A case in point is Billie Joe Powell, 16, who reportedly shot and killed her dad after he had allegedly abused her. Her Ohio community banned together with petitions and support to attempt to get her tried as a juvenile rather than an adult so she’d get a more lenient sentence.

How nice of them.

The judge was nice about it, too, not sentencing Powell to any prison term. Her 1993 plea agreement had her pleading guilty to first-degree manslaughter in exchange for 88 days in jail, five years probation and four years of psychological counseling.

So does the abuse of a child condone the murder of a father? We have to wonder if anything is horrific enough for a kid to take his parent’s life, the same life that brought him into the world in the first place.


Ryn Gargulinski is a poet, artist, performer and Ryngmaster who wants to stay at the Lizzie Borden Bed and Breakfast in Fall River, Mass. It’s supposed to be haunted. Her column appears every Friday on Rynski’s Blogski. Her art, writing and more is at E-mail

logoWhat do you think?

Is there anything that would justify a child killing his or her parents?

Do you like Lizzie Borden?

Have you heard any other horror stories? Do tell.