When Homeschoolers Turn Violent: Eric Robert Rudolph

Screen Shot 2014-03-02 at 5.36.11 PM

Series note: “When Homeschoolers Turn Violent” is a joint research project by Homeschoolers Anonymous and Homeschooling’s Invisible Children. Please see the Introduction for detailed information about the purpose and scope of the project.

Trigger warning: If you experience triggers from descriptions of physical and sexual violence, please know that the details in many of the cases are disturbing and graphic.

*****

Eric Robert Rudolph

Eric Robert Rudolph is known today as “the Olympic Park Bomber” and a terrorist. Responsible for a string of anti-abortion and anti-gay bombings across the U.S. from 1996 to 1998, he is serving a life sentence at the ADX Florence supermax prison in Florence, Colorado.

Former U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft called Eric Robert Rudolph "the most notorious American fugitive on the FBI's 'Most Wanted' list."
Former U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft called Eric Robert Rudolph “the most notorious American fugitive on the FBI’s ‘Most Wanted’ list.”

Eric was born on September 19, 1966. His mother and father (who died in 1981) had extreme beliefs “ranging from hatred of Social Security numbers to a naïve faith in the curing powers of laetrile.” After her husband died in 1981, Eric’s mother Patricia moved herself, Eric, and Eric’s five siblings to Topton, North Carolina. In Topton, his mother — and subsequently Eric — became immersed in the Christian Identity movement, which is “a virulently anti-Semitic ‘religious’ sect that preaches that Jews are descended from Satan and that God made non-whites inferior to whites.” Followers are “fiercely opposed to race-mixing, abortion and homosexuality.” They also are “taught to shun birth certificates, Social Security numbers and marriage licenses,” and have “a taboo on antibiotics.”

A year after moving to North Carolina, Patricia and Eric traveled to Missouri and stayed for several months in a Christian Identity compound. Patricia spent time with Nord Davis, an Identity advocate who “advocated killing gays and those who engaged in mixed-race relationships.” She homeschooled Eric and his siblings except for one year when he attended ninth grade at Nantahala School. (During that one year attending school, he “wrote a class paper denying the Holocaust ever happened.”) In fact, Patricia said that she “was drawn to the [Christian Identity] group by the promise of home schooling.” She reportedly used homeschooling to “drill her brand of idealism and independence into her offspring with a vengeance,” teaching that “the government was  a threat to society” and her ideas about God had a “racist slant” with “overtones of the KKK and Nazis.”

After receiving a general equivalency diploma for high school, Eric briefly attended Western Carolina University. He dropped out after two semesters, though, and then enlisted in the Army in August 1987. After 1 1/2 years in the Army, he was discharged “for smoking marijuana.”

In the time between being discharged from the Army and his string of bombings, Eric grew “increasingly paranoid” about the government and society. Then on July 27, 1996, Eric detonated a bomb during the 1996 Summer Olympics at the Centennial Olympic Park in Atlanta. The blast killed 1 person and wounded 111 others. His reason for doing so, he wrote, was “to confound, anger and embarrass the Washington government in the eyes of the world for its abominable sanctioning of abortion on demand.”

A year later, on July 16, 1997, Eric also bombed an abortion clinic in the Atlanta suburb of Sandy Springs, injuring 50 people. A mere month later, on February 21, 1997,  he bombed the Otherside Lounge, a lesbian bar in Atlanta, and injured 5 more people. His last attack was one year later on January 29, 1998, when he bombed an abortion clinic in Birmingham, Alabama, killing a police officer and critically injuring a nurse.

From 1998 until 2003, Eric became a fugitive, “hiding in the Nantahala National Forest of western North Carolina.” During those 5 years, Eric was featured on the FBI Ten Most Wanted Fugitives list. At the time of his capture on May 31, 2003 in Murphy, North Carolina, Eric was “the nation’s most wanted domestic terrorist.” In fact, former U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft called him “the most notorious American fugitive on the FBI’s ‘Most Wanted’ list.”

Eric was finally captured in May of 2003 in North Carolina when a police officer “spotted Rudolph at about 4 a.m. behind a Save-a-Lot grocery store during a routine patrol.” In April 2005, Eric revealed his motives for all the attacks. After pleading guilty to the attacks, he issued an 11-page statement blaming them on “the legalization of abortion and ‘aberrant sexual behavior.'” Abortion and homosexuality, he explained, were to be met with “force if necessary.” He also said he had no regrets or remorse over the deaths he caused. In August 2005, Eric was sentenced to life in prison without parole.

View the case index here.

When Homeschoolers Turn Violent: Charles Carl Roberts

Screen Shot 2014-03-02 at 5.36.11 PM

Series note: “When Homeschoolers Turn Violent” is a joint research project by Homeschoolers Anonymous and Homeschooling’s Invisible Children. Please see the Introduction for detailed information about the purpose and scope of the project.

Trigger warning: If you experience triggers from descriptions of physical and sexual violence, please know that the details in many of the cases are disturbing and graphic.

*****

Charles Carl Roberts

On October 2, 2006, 32-year-old Charles Carl Roberts IV barricaded himself and ten young female hostages into an Amish schoolhouse in Nickel Mines, Pennsylvania. He proceeded to shoot the girls one at a time, execution-style. By the time the police broke into the schoolhouse, he had wounded 5 girls, mortally wounded 2, and killed 3. He then shot and killed himself.

On October 2, 2006, 32-year-old Charles Carl Roberts IV barricaded himself and ten young female hostages into an Amish schoolhouse in Nickel Mines, Pennsylvania.
On October 2, 2006, 32-year-old Charles Carl Roberts IV barricaded himself and ten young female hostages into an Amish schoolhouse in Nickel Mines, Pennsylvania.

Charles was born in Lancaster, Pennsylvania to his father Chuck, a retired police officer who became a taxi driver for the Amish community, and his mother Terri. Charles never attended public schools, receiving his high school diploma from a homeschool association. 20 years before his rampage and suicide, when he was only 12 years old, Charles molested two of his relatives — girls between the ages of 3 and 5. This would haunt Charles for the rest of his life, and he reportedly was tormented by “dreams of molesting again” around the time of the rampage and suicide.

After graduating from high school, Charles worked a number of jobs, ranging from dishwasher at Good N’ Plenty Restaurant to a commercial milk tank driver for North West Foods. In 1996, Charles married Marie Lynn Welk at Highview Church of God. A year after their wedding, Marie gave birth to Elise Victoria, who tragically died shortly after birth. Elise’s death would also haunt Charles until the day he died. Charlie and Marie later had 3 more kids, who ranged from ages 7 to 1 1/2 on the day Charlie killed himself. Marie described her husband as “loving, supportive, thoughtful” and “an exceptional father,” and Terri similarly described her son as “an excellent family man.” After her son died, Terri mourned that, “I had no idea anything like this was going to happen.”

On the day in question, Charles drove his own children to school then returned home and left handwritten notes to his family. He then drove to and entered West Nickel Mines School, a one-room Amish school house in Nickel Mines, Pennsylvania. He came prepared with a vast inventory of equipment and weaponry: a handgun, shotgun, and rifle; 600 rounds of ammunition; black powder, a stun gun, knives, pliers, wires, and wooden planks. He let 15 male students out of the schoolhouse as well as a pregnant woman and three parents with infants. Remaining with him were 10 young female students, ranging in age from 6 to 13. He tied up the 10 girls together. While he “appeared to have plans to molest [the] children” on account of bringing a bottle of sexual lubricant with him, the police arrived almost immediately and no signs of sexual assault were found later. Instead, as soon as the police arrived, Charles’ plans were thrown in disarray. He called his wife on his cellphone and told her for the first time about how he had molested his relatives when he was 12. He also told her he was surrounded by the police. He then proceeded to shoot his young hostages and kill himself.

In 2013, 7 years after Charles’s rampage and death, his mother Terri channeled her feelings of grief and guilt into helping others, including one of her son’s own victims. She spends time with and caring for 13-year-old Rosanna, who sits in a wheelchair and eats through a tube on account of Charles’s attack.

View the case index here.

When Homeschoolers Turn Violent: Jeremiah Reynolds

Screen Shot 2014-03-02 at 5.36.11 PM

Series note: “When Homeschoolers Turn Violent” is a joint research project by Homeschoolers Anonymous and Homeschooling’s Invisible Children. Please see the Introduction for detailed information about the purpose and scope of the project.

Trigger warning: If you experience triggers from descriptions of physical and sexual violence, please know that the details in many of the cases are disturbing and graphic.

*****

Jeremiah Reynolds

In December 1994, 17-year-old Jeremiah Reynolds from Sabillasville, Maryland (along with a 16-year-old accomplice) robbed a convenience store in Blue Ridge Summit, Pennsylvania and killed the store’s clerk.

In December 1994, 17-year-old Jeremiah Reynolds from Sabillasville, Maryland robbed a convenience store in Blue Ridge Summit, Pennsylvania and killed the store's clerk.
In December 1994, 17-year-old Jeremiah Reynolds from Sabillasville, Maryland robbed a convenience store in Blue Ridge Summit, Pennsylvania and killed the store’s clerk.

Jeremiah was homeschooled. His parents are Reverend M. David and Hope Reynolds. His father, a Chaplain at the Joint Base Andrews military facility in Maryland, described him as a kid who “often did good deeds and reached out to help others.” The night before the murder, Jeremiah had an argument with his parents.  The argument arose because his parents had taken away his car keys and grounded him on account of “smoking and other behavior.” Jeremiah consequently ran away from home, taking his family’s deer rifle with him. At some point he met up with his accomplice, Clayton Faxon, who attended Catoctin High School in Fredrick County, Maryland.

Jeremiah proposed to Clayton that they rob the convenience store in Blue Ridge Summit. At the time, 30-year-old Gretchen C. Groff was working alone in the convenience store in the early morning. Jeremiah and Clayton went to the store and demanded money and Gretchen’s keys. They stole $26 from the store’s cash register as well as cigarettes. They proceeded to torture Gretchen and then shot her in the mouth with a rifle, stole her car, and then later set the car on fire.

In May 1995, Jeremiah pled guilty to “third-degree murder and robbery.” In October 1995, he was sentenced to a minimum of 20 years in prison for his role in the murder. His accomplice Clayton was sentenced to life in person for being the one that pulled the gun’s trigger.

View the case index here.

Please Consider Donating to HA

We greatly appreciate your interest in financially supporting the work of Homeschoolers Anonymous (HA).

HA is the narrative-sharing platform of Homeschool Alumni Reaching Out. This platform requires an immense amount of work and daily maintenance. It is a more than full-time job that has required significant dedication, energy, and time on behalf of numerous volunteers. Since March 2013, HARO’s executive director R.L. Stollar has taken the lead on the HA platform, managing the site full-time for the last year and a half without any compensation because he believes in the work and vision.

If you believe in and support the mission of HARO’s HA platform, please consider helping financially with the job of keeping the platform going.

You can make a secure donation to Homeschoolers Anonymous (either a single donation or a recurring monthly donation) through Paypal. Even a donation of $5, $10, or $20 will help immensely. (We are still working on our 501c3 status, so donations are not currently tax-deductible.)

Please click here to make a secure donation to HA via Paypal.

Thank you in advance for your support of our work.

When Homeschoolers Turn Violent: Darren James Price

Screen Shot 2014-03-02 at 5.36.11 PM

Series note: “When Homeschoolers Turn Violent” is a joint research project by Homeschoolers Anonymous and Homeschooling’s Invisible Children. Please see the Introduction for detailed information about the purpose and scope of the project.

Trigger warning: If you experience triggers from descriptions of physical and sexual violence, please know that the details in many of the cases are disturbing and graphic.

*****

Darren James Price

In June 2013, 13-year-old Darren James Price from Dowagiac, Michigan took a gun to Dowagiac Middle School, ran away after being approached by school staff, then went into the woods near the school and committed suicide.

In June 2013, 13-year-old Darren James Price from Dowagiac, Michigan entered Dowagiac Middle School with a gun and then committed suicide.
In June 2013, 13-year-old Darren James Price from Dowagiac, Michigan entered Dowagiac Middle School with a gun and then committed suicide.

Darren attended Dowagiac Middle School through 6th grade. Darren was described by a former public school principal as “very nice, polite, a good kid.” He was withdrawn from the school a year prior to his death and was homeschooled for 7th grade. Darren had an unknown number of siblings, all of whom were also withdrawn from the public school district. No reasons for withdrawal were publicized.

The night before his death, Darren stole a handgun from his family. The next morning, he entered school grounds with the gun. A custodian saw Darren with the gun and notified the school principal. After the principal approached Darren, the boy ran into the nearby woods. The school notified the police. A deputy sheriff arrived and approached the woods where the boy was hiding. After seeing the sheriff, the boy shot himself. He died shortly after in a hospital.

Despite initially approaching the school with a weapon, police remain unsure whether Darren intended to attack others prior to committing suicide. To this day Darren’s motive for committing suicide also remains a mystery. The school’s public safety director said, “I wish we had a reason.”

View the case index here.

When Homeschoolers Turn Violent: Johan Nel

Screen Shot 2014-03-02 at 5.36.11 PM

Series note: “When Homeschoolers Turn Violent” is a joint research project by Homeschoolers Anonymous and Homeschooling’s Invisible Children. Please see the Introduction for detailed information about the purpose and scope of the project.

Trigger warning: If you experience triggers from descriptions of physical and sexual violence, please know that the details in many of the cases are disturbing and graphic.

*****

Johan Nel

In January 2008, 18-year-old Johan Nel from Swartruggens — a small farming town in North West Province, South Africa — murdered 4 black South Africans in a racially motivated shooting spree.

In January 2008, 18-year-old Johan Nel from South Africa murdered 4 black South Africans in a racially motivated shooting spree.
In January 2008, 18-year-old Johan Nel from South Africa murdered 4 black South Africans in a racially motivated shooting spree.

On the day of the attack, Johan took a bolt-action rifle and more than 100 rounds of ammunition to a squatter camp near his city. While shouting “kaffir” (a racial slur in South Africa), he murdered 4 people: 31-year-old Anna Moiphitlhi and her 3-month-old daughter Elizabeth; 10-year-old Enoch Motshelanoka; and 36-year-old Sivuyile Peyi. He also injured 11 other people. At one point during the attack he took time to ask a neighboring farmer for more bullets. When the farmer refused, Johan shot one of his ostriches. His victims were “defenseless,” some of them “were relaxing under a tree, others were gardening or just walking down the road.”

After the attacks, the editor of South Africa’s Times newspaper noted that, “Nel was born after the release of Nelson Mandela and the unbanning of the ANC. He was schooled while Mandela was president under a curriculum reformed to properly reflect South African history.” However, Johan’s education was primarily through homeschooling. His parents, Hennie and Corrie Nel, took him out of public school to homeschool him and he never was “exposed to others’ cultures.” Johan was reported to be a “young, brainwashed racist” who had “no regard for black people’s lives.” Johan began equating black people with baboons and birds at the age of 15.

According to reports, Johan showed signs of PTSD, anxiety, and destructive disorders. He was himself assaulted 5 years prior in 2003 by someone with a sickle. Johan also harbored immense anger towards the world. After the attacks, Johan told his mother that, “Something just snapped inside me.”

In November 2008, Johan pleaded guilty to 17 charges, including numerous murder charges. He was sentenced to 4 life sentences in maximum security.

View the case index here.

When Homeschoolers Turn Violent: Matthew Murray

Screen Shot 2014-03-02 at 5.36.11 PM

Series note: “When Homeschoolers Turn Violent” is a joint research project by Homeschoolers Anonymous and Homeschooling’s Invisible Children. Please see the Introduction for detailed information about the purpose and scope of the project.

Trigger warning: If you experience triggers from descriptions of physical and sexual violence, please know that the details in many of the cases are disturbing and graphic.

*****

Matthew Murray

On December 9, 2007, 24-year-old Matthew Murray went on a killing spree in Colorado, opening fire in the early morning at a Youth With A Mission (YWAM) training center in Arvada and then later in the afternoon at the New Life Church in Colorado Springs. His spree left 4 people dead and 5 wounded, following which he committed suicide.

On December 9, 2007, 24-year-old Matthew Murray (pictured here with his niece) went on a killing spree in Colorado
On December 9, 2007, 24-year-old Matthew Murray (pictured here with his niece) went on a killing spree in Colorado

Matthew was 1 of 2 sons born to Colorado neurologist Ronald Murray and his wife Loretta Murray. Matthew’s family was a deeply religious Christian household and he and his younger brother Christopher were homeschoooled since 1990 through high school graduation using Bill Gothard’s “Wisdom Booklets.” His family attended Faith Bible Chapel in Arvada, a church noted for its Christian Zionism beliefs. The Murray family were members of Kevin Swanson’s Christian Home Educators of Colorado, and Christopher was part of a homeschool graduation ceremony held by CHEC in 2005.

After being homeschooled all the way through high school, Matthew attended Arapahoe Community College and Colorado Christian University for brief periods. In 2002, he attended a YWAM missionary training program held at the same Arvada facility he attacked. He did not complete the training, however, due to several reasons: one being health problems that prevented him from doing the requisite field work; others being “strange behavior” such as talking about “hearing voices” and performing “dark rock songs” from Linkin Park that made co-workers feel “pretty scared.” (Court records indicate that the Arvada attack was at least partly inspired by his anger about being expelled.)

Matthew was alleged to be either gay or bisexual and experienced guilt over his orientation. He felt he had to justify it through pointing to the hypocrisy of evangelical leaders like Ted Haggard. He struggled with depression, took Prozac, and was seeing a therapist. He believed his parents were simply using him as a religious weapon or tool, saying that “The only reason [my mom] had me was because she wanted a body/soul she could train into being the next Billy Graham.” He claimed to suffer psychological and other forms of abuse at the hands of his parents growing up, taking particular aim at how Gothard’s teachings influenced his family, at one point writing the following online:

“Me, I remember the beatings and the fighting and yelling and insane rules and all the Bill Gothard (expletive) and then trancing out . (expletive) . I’m still tranced out.”

Gothard himself commented on the murders after the fact, saying that Matthew and his family only used his homeschooling curriculum for “several years” and that his curriculum is “all built around the Sermon on the Mount.” Gothard added that Matthew’s problem was that “he rejected the curriculum,” pointing to Matthew’s love of rock music. “The music we listen to is a powerful force,” Gothard suggested.

While Matthew’s family did not regularly attend New Life Church, his mother Loretta considered Ted Haggard — the disgraced evangelical celebrity who founded and pastored New Life — to be her “favorite pastor.” The Murray family gave money to New Life and Matthew and his mother went to a conference at the church 4 years prior to the attack.

On the day of the attacks, Matthew drove to the YWAM facility in Arvada in the middle of the night. After asking if he could stay the night at the facility (and being denied), Matthew pulled out his guns and opened fire. He killed 24-year-old Tiffany Johnson and 26-year-old Philip Crouse, as well as wounded 24-year-old Dan Griebenow and 22-year-old Charlie Blanch. Matthew then drove to New Life Church. Around 1 pm, Matthew began his second attack, spraying bullets at church members leaving after church service. He struck and killed two sisters, 18-year-old Stephanie Works and 16-year-old Rachel Works — who happened to be homeschooled themselves. He also wounded the sisters’ father, 51-year-old David Works, as well as 40-year-old Judy Purcell and 59-year-old Larry Bourbannais.

Matthew’s shooting rampage finally came to a halt when Jeanne Assam, a volunteer security guard at the church, managed to shoot and wound Matthew. Matthew then shot and killed himself.

In May 2008, Matthew’s parents appeared on James Dobson’s radio show. His father Ronald said they had “no idea he had ownership of weapons or any plan,” blaming the shootings on his son’s “depth of bitterness” about his Christian upbringing. That “bitterness” was expressed by Matthew himself in his handwritten “Letter to God” found in his car after the attacks. In the letter, Matthew wrote,

“The more I read your stupid book, the more I pray, the more I reach out to Christians for help, the more hurt and abused I get.”

Following Matthew’s rampage and suicide, Kevin Swanson (Director of CHEC, which the Murray family were members of) did a radio broadcast on the situation entitled, “Should Pastors Pack?”

View the case index here.

When Homeschoolers Turn Violent: Mentor High School Threat from Teenager

Screen Shot 2014-03-02 at 5.36.11 PM

Series note: “When Homeschoolers Turn Violent” is a joint research project by Homeschoolers Anonymous and Homeschooling’s Invisible Children. Please see the Introduction for detailed information about the purpose and scope of the project.

Trigger warning: If you experience triggers from descriptions of physical and sexual violence, please know that the details in many of the cases are disturbing and graphic.

*****

Mentor High School Threat from Teenager

In September 2013, a 17-year-old teenager made an online threat of violence against Mentor High School in Mentor, Ohio.

In September 2013, a 17-year-old homeschooled teenager made an online threat of violence against Mentor High School in Mentor, Ohio.
In September 2013, a 17-year-old homeschooled teenager made an online threat of violence against Mentor High School in Mentor, Ohio.

The teenager had posted a Facebook status on September 12, talking about killing “a lot of people at Mentor High today.” He was homeschooled and not a student at the high school. A Facebook friend of his saw the status update and immediately told her mom. Her mom reported the threat.

Mentor Police immediately launched an investigation. The teenager was taken into custody for questioning. The boy’s defense attorney, Mark Ziccarelli, said that the boy made the threat as a cry for help. Ziccarelli argued for the boy’s defense in Juvenile Court, saying that, “Part of his problem was socialization,” laying blame on how the boy was homeschooled without sufficient social outlets. Ziccarelli pointed out that, since the boy had been in juvenile detention, he had “learned socialization skills just by being around kids his age.”

The teenager was originally charged with two counts of inducing panic. This was changed to a felony count of making false alarms. It was recommended that he stay in juvenile detention indefinitely to take advantage of a rehabilitation program.

View the case index here.

When Homeschoolers Turn Violent: Jonathan McMullen

Screen Shot 2014-03-02 at 5.36.11 PM

Series note: “When Homeschoolers Turn Violent” is a joint research project by Homeschoolers Anonymous and Homeschooling’s Invisible Children. Please see the Introduction for detailed information about the purpose and scope of the project.

Trigger warning: If you experience triggers from descriptions of physical and sexual violence, please know that the details in many of the cases are disturbing and graphic.

*****

Jonathan McMullen

In September 2001, 14-year-old Jonathan McMullen from Elgin, Arizona killed his adopted mother and attempted to kill his adopted father and biological brother.

In September 2001, 14-year-old Jonathan McMullen from Elgin, Arizona killed his adopted mother and attempted to kill his adopted father and biological brother.
In September 2001, 14-year-old Jonathan McMullen from Elgin, Arizona killed his adopted mother and attempted to kill his adopted father and biological brother.

Kristina and Andrew McMullen, Jonathan’s adopted parents, were a “devoutly religious family” who had “faith in God and Jesus Christ.” They moved to Elgin a few years prior to the attack on account of health problems (which the higher elevation of Elgin alleviated). They took Jonathan and his two biological brothers in as foster children in 1999 and then adopted them slightly more than a year prior to the attack. The McMullens had one biological son, 2 years older than Jonathan. 56-year-old Kristina, a professional teacher, homeschooled all the boys.

According to reports, Jonathan “was a good kid.” In his early childhood he attended Elgin Elementary School and was described as a “quiet, shy, polite” kid who “was never in [the superintendent’s] office for discipline.” But he suffered from fetal alcohol syndrome (FASD), a disorder that “can cause tremendous behavioral problems.” The “distorted reasoning of the brain affected by FASD” has been blamed as a cause of Jonathan’s actions.

On the night of the murder, Jonathan and a friend of his were talking about using his mother’s car to drive to a nearby city. Jonathan was afraid they might get caught taking the car, so he decided to shoot his family.  His original plan was to kill them with knives, but he decided on a rifle instead so they “would die more quickly.” He threw something at his mother’s door to wake her and, when she came out, he shot her 5 times. Woken by the sound of the gunshots, his father and brother came into his room. Jonathan shot his brother twice and his father once. Kristina died. His 55-year-old father Andrew and 12-year-old brother Jack were airlifted to Tucson Medical Center and survived. Jonathan’s 9-year-old brother Joe was unharmed as he was spending the night at a friend’s house.

Jonathan was charged with first degree murder of his mother and attempted first degree murder of his father and brother. In December 2002, Jonathan pleaded guilty to reckless manslaughter.

View the case index here.

When Homeschoolers Turn Violent: Michael Mason

Screen Shot 2014-03-02 at 5.36.11 PM

Series note: “When Homeschoolers Turn Violent” is a joint research project by Homeschoolers Anonymous and Homeschooling’s Invisible Children. Please see the Introduction for detailed information about the purpose and scope of the project.

Trigger warning: If you experience triggers from descriptions of physical and sexual violence, please know that the details in many of the cases are disturbing and graphic.

*****

Michael Mason

In June 2012, Michael Mason — a 16-year-old boy from Willard, Ohio — shot his mother in the back and left her for dead.

In June 2012, Michael Mason — a 16-year-old boy from Willard, Ohio — shot his mother in the back and left her for dead.
In June 2012, Michael Mason — a 16-year-old boy from Willard, Ohio — shot his mother in the back and left her for dead.

Michael shot his mom Melissa around 11:30 am one morning. He then fled his home and ran to a friend’s house. Melissa was fortunately able to call 911. Michael was arrested 1 1/2 hours later after a flurry of law enforcement officers descended upon the home.

Michael had a tough family life and a history of acting out. A public defender, David Longo, also said that “Mason has some psychiatric issues that haven’t been properly handled.” On a previous occasion Michael stole a car and drove the vehicle from Ohio to Grand Rapids, Michigan. He also had trouble in public schools, which ultimately resulted in him being removed from the Willard City School system to be homeschooled by his mother. Peers described him as “always kind of quiet” and someone who “wrote poems to girls”; they did not expect to “see the violence in him.”

Melissa was rushed by a medical helicopter to a nearby hospital. She survived and was in good condition by the night after the attack.

Michael was charged with attempted murder. He originally pleaded “not guilty by reason of insanity,” but a clinical psychologist determined he was not insane at the time of the attempted murder. In May of 2013, he was sentenced to 7 years in prison and 5 years of probation after his prison sentence.

View the case index here.