When Homeschoolers Turn Violent: Appendix 2, Exclusions

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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.

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Appendix 2: Exclusions

We have chosen to exclude from this archive a number of individuals charged with murder or attempted murder whom news reports have referred to as “homeschooled.” The reasons for excluding them vary, so we will list each below:

Alton Romero Young:

In 1993, 17-year-old Alton Romero Young raped and strangled to death 57-year-old Shirley Mullinix. Alton was being taught at home due to suspension from Hammond High School. Shirley Mullinix was a home-hospital teacher in the Howard County school system, tasked with teaching students unable to attend normative classes on account of disciplinary or health problems. Thus while some news reports refer to Shirley as a “home school tutor” and Alton as homeschooled, he must be excluded from this list since his homeschooling was directly under the authority of a public school system and a public school teacher.

Jeff Weise: 

In 2005, 16-year-old Jeff Weise — a student at Red Lake Senior High School in Red Lake, Minnesota — went on a shooting spree and killed a total of 9 people. He first killed his grandfather and his grandfather’s companion and then went to the school and killed 7 others (as well as wounded 5). Following the attacks, he committed suicide. Jeff was living on the Red Lake Indian Reservation of the Ojibwe people. While he has occasionally been referred to as “homeschooled,” there are no verifiable records of this fact. All records seem to indicate short periods of time when he simply did not attend school due to depression and bullying.

Aaron Kean:

In 2003, 10-year-old Aaron Kean from Woodbridge, New Jersey sexually assaulted 3-year-old Amir Beeks and then beat the young child to death with a baseball bat. While some sources have described Aaron as “home-schooled,” there is no evidence that this is the case. He was expelled from public school 6 months before the attack, but the school itself made an arrangement for him to receive tutoring from a teacher at the local library but Aaron remained delinquent from the arrangement.

Jade Gonzalez: 

In June 1999, 12-year-old Jade Gonzalez from Albuquerque, New Mexico was charged with shooting her father in the head and killing him. Jade has correctly been described by some sources as homeschooled. However, in 2007, when she was 20 years old, the case against Jade was dismissed and her father’s death was ruled an accident.

Joshua Stone and David Stone, Jr.: 

In 2012, 21-year-old Joshua Stone — along with his 19-year-old brother David Jr. and his father David Sr., leader of the self-style Hutaree militia — were charged with conspiracy to murder law enforcement officials. David Sr. homeschooled both Joshua and David Jr. for a period of time. However, the charges for conspiracy to murder were ultimately dismissed. David Jr. was acquitted of all charges. Joshua and his father were only found guilty of federal gun law violations.

View the case index here.

When Homeschoolers Turn Violent: Introduction

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Writing and Research: R.L. Stollar, Homeschoolers Anonymous
Research and Editing: Rachel Coleman, Homeschooling’s Invisible Children

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Since the devastating Sandy Hook shooting in December 2012 left 20 young children and 6 adults dead, at least 44 more school shootings have occurred. An aura of shocking and seemingly senseless violence continues to haunt the landscape of the United States.

The problem of violence plagues almost every corner of our society: public schools, malls, college campuses, movie theaters, and — sadly — even homeschools. Parallel to cases of public school students gone awry are cases of homeschooled students. These cases are just as heartbreaking and can be just as violent. Unfortunately, the knee-jerk reaction of homeschooling communities is often to respond defensively after these situations, to focus on how the cases are portrayed in the media rather than to consider what lessons may be learned from them.

This defensive reaction is not only unfortunate, it is misplaced. (So too is using violence as a marketing tool, as Howard Richman from PA Homeschoolers did after the public school massacre in Littleton, Colorado, when he declared that, “with the increase in school violence we have a new bumper sticker, ‘Homeschool: The Safe Alternative.'”) Knee-jerk defensiveness hinders homeschooling communities (and larger communities) from providing an honest self-assessment of what can be done to prevent further situations of similar personal, communal, and institutional breakdown.

In the aftermath of public school shootings, public school teachers and administrators ought not respond by saying, “Do not call this a ‘school shooting.’ The fact that it happened in a school is irrelevant. ” Rather, teachers and administrators must accept that something went wrong and ask: “Were there warning signs? How did we miss them? How can we prevent this in the future? What steps can we take to increase security, or educate our students, parents, and faculty better about mental health, violent games, and bullying?”

These questions need to be asked just as diligently and earnestly by homeschooling communities, co-op teachers, and parents. We need strong, brave individuals to stand up and speak out about the importance of mental health care, about the impact dehumanizing and stifling ideologies and discipline practices have on children, and the real psychological results isolation can have on a person’s developing psyche.

These are not questions we can continue to avoid. The number of homeschooled children that have grown up to become violent criminals, mass murderers, even serial killers, is growing. In many cases, these are not simply small-time killers. We have one of the most notorious white supremacists on our hands, along with the leader of a conspiracy to overthrow the U.S. government and assassinate the President and the most famous serial killer of the last decade.

We must take these cases seriously as a community. Innocent lives have been lost. Families have been torn apart. The time has come for honest assessment and serious discussion.

Archive disclaimer

We include as “homeschooled” any individual who was home educated when the event in question happened, was home educated for a substantial amount of time, or was home educated in a way that significantly impacted the individual in a documented, explicit manner

We have created this archive to document and describe. We are not making any statistical claims. We will not seek to make interpretations or arguments within any given entry. Readers are free to draw their own conclusions or recognize patterns for themselves.

This is not a complete archive. The cases we have collected do disprove Brian Ray’s claim that “the general-population teen [in the 14-17 year old age group] is 2,500 times more likely to commit homicide than a home-educated teen.” However, they do not actually tell us just how likely (or unlikely) homeschooled teens are to commit homicide.

In creating this archive, we do not claim that homeschool students and graduates are any more or less violent than individuals otherwise educated. Making such a determination would require a much larger research study than we are capable of conducting with current resources.

We do not think that whether homeschooled students or graduates are more or less likely to become violent is relevant to our contention that homeschooling communities need to be aware of the risk factors that may lead to such violence in their own communities and take steps to address them.

Our purpose here is to archive, to remember, and to mourn — and ultimately, to present a case for action.

Publishing schedule and trigger warning

We will release 3-4 cases each weekday for the following two weeks. Cases will be released in alphabetical order according to each individual’s last name. At the conclusion of the two weeks, we will release one large document that includes this introduction, all the cases, our concluding thoughts, and a timeline.

Please know that the details in many of the cases are disturbing and graphic. If you experience triggers from descriptions of physical and sexual violence, you may want to avoid reading these cases.

View the case index here.