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.
“It was an intentional murder, I intended to shoot them, and I did.” So said David Ludwig, an 18-year-old teenager from Lancaster County, Pennsylvania after murdering the parents of his girlfriend.
Both David and his 14-year-old girlfriend, Kara Beth Borden, were Christian homeschoolers. The two teenagers attended church, went to youth group, and were homeschooled in Christian families. Their families were “active in a local home-schooling support network” and originally met each other at a homeschool support group. Kara’s family also had a home church. The teenagers were active on MySpace and left each other coded love messages on their profiles.
On November 13, 2005, Michael Borden, Kara’s father, asked David to come over after Kara told her father that she and David planned to get married. (Michael was additionally upset because Kara had stayed out all night the previous night with David.) Michael’s response was “Like hell you will!” Upon David’s arrival, Michael told David he could no longer see his daughter. Having anticipated this response and coming prepared with weaponry, David shot Michael in the back as he was heading to the front door. David then sought out Kara’s mother Cathryn and shot her while she sat in a chair. David then looked for Kara but could not find her. He got in his car and started to drive away when he saw Kara running down the road towards him. She got in the car and told David she desired to “get as far away as possible, get married, and start a new life.”
David and Kara were apprehended the following day after a high-speed car chase. In June of 2006, David pleaded guilty to murder and was sentenced to life in prison without parole. Kara was deemed a victim and not charged. She is now — along with her sister and brother — living with relatives in another state.
David and Kara’s story shocked both local and wider homeschooling communities. A homeschooling mother who knew the Borden family well commented that,
What makes this so difficult to understand is that these children were somewhat sheltered from drugs and all that and yet they get into this… We’re just assuming that we’re home-schooling and our kids are OK, and now this. They’re not all OK.
The late Kim Anderson, a popular homeschool forensics coach, wrote about the murders in 2005 for the Christian website Crosswalk. She noted that violence arose “from the sector in which we would least expect to find them: the close-knit community of Christian home-schooling families.” Alex Harris was also moved to write about the murders on The Rebelution, a Christian ministry directed at youth. Alex cautioned against considering David and Kara “newsworthy aberrations,” noting how “un-abnormal they are; how similar they are to people I know; how similar they are to me.” Alex concludes with saying,
Being homeschooled did not prevent this tragedy; growing up in a Christian environment did not prevent this tragedy.
View the case index here.
So, the bloggers quoted about seemed to believe that teenagers in a restrictive environment would NOT be violent? Well, I hope no one would condone that violent act, especially to another person’s back, but to what degree, exactly, am I supposed to be surprised by it? Consider this: Human beings fall in love. Human beings dislike authoritarians and control freaks (unless the control freak is oneself). Human beings long to love and be loved for who they are, the way they are. Human beings hit puberty around 12 and that involves (shall we say) hormonal attraction and the best Christian advice is “just sit on it for the next 12 years.” David and Kara were human beings and they fell in love and nothing about the precious Christiany homeschooling Gulag could change that. Did anyone who was shocked by David’s acts remember “Romeo and Juliet”? The oh-so-terribly-shocked people and the parents probably hadn’t read the play or seen it staged. If they had, they might have learned something about teenage love and the volatile force of its passion, or about love being stronger than family ties and even the instinct for self-preservation, or about forbidden love becoming impossible for parents to stop, and how youthful love’s force must be handled tenderly and wisely and compassionately — they might have learned all that BEFORE the shootings. So now they’ve thrown Romeo in prison and the self-anointed leaders of the homeschooling movement carry on, distributing their poisons.
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