When a Mother Snaps

I keep reading all these articles in our Rhode Island paper about the Camden Fry murder case. It happened just a few miles down the road from me. Yes, it happened here, in tiny Rhode Island, but it’s a story that’s all too familiar around the country….a mom, struggling with her own depression, commits an unthinkable crime.  In this case, Kimberly Fry is accused of strangling her own daughter, 8-year-old Camden.  It is so scary for me to even imagine that. We all remember Andrea Yates,  from Texas, who drowned all five of her children one-by-one in the bath tub at home. She was apparently suffering from postpartum depression.

Andrea Yates and the 5 kids she killed

Camden Fry was a bright-eyed girl who would be in class today with her friends in North Kingstown, RI. Instead, police say, fed up over arguments involving bathing, Kimberly Fry wrestled the young girl to the ground, covering her nose and mouth so she would be quiet. Too quiet. That was the last breath Camden Fry ever took. We’re told Camden did have ADHD and would have fits of crying and kicking on occasion.  Parents need to make sure they are educated about how to deal with their rage and to walk away or get help from others when they can’t handle a situation.  I know in this situation things were probably more extreme; someone who goes as far as killing in my opinion must have some sort of mental breakdown or illness.

Camden Fry, 8-years old when killed

Police say, that fateful night, Kimberly Fry, also dragged her limp and lifeless daughter to bed, laid her on her side, pulled the covers up over her, and then tucked her stuffed animal under her arm. Fry’s attorney says the death was accidental.   Camden’s dad, Timothy Fry, was playing hockey in Cranston. He peeked in on his daughter sleeping, and then checked on his wife asleep as well. In the morning he noticed his daughter was not up in time and went to find her in bed. She had obviously been dead for hours. Timothy called the police, woke-up his wife, and was in complete shock.  Prosecutors say the night of the crime, Kimberly tried to commit suicide taking a potent cocktail of painkillers and anti-depressants.  Kimberly Fry has pleaded not guilty to second degree murder. Her trial continues, this week, in Rhode Island.

Kimberly Fry, accused of murdering her daughter

While researching how moms can actually lose control and turn to murder, I found some very interesting information. First of all 30% of murdered children are killed by their own mothers. Also, here are characteristics that these mothers seems to have in common (information found at MomLogic):

Some of the issues involved with these moms include mental illness, isolation, anger, and fear. They also have poor coping skills to handle stress and may have little emotional support from family or friends.

What has been found is that moms who murder usually fall into one of the following categories:

Altruism: These women believe their children are suffering or are in some type of pain and they believe killing them will put them out of their misery. These moms usually are severely depressed.

Psychosis: These moms suffer from schizophrenia or another psychotic disease such as postpartum depression with psychotic features. They often hear voices telling them to kill their children.

Unwanted Children: This mom doesn’t want her children. They are inconvenient to her lifestyle. These moms usually have narcissistic or borderline personality disorders.

Maltreatment: This is the most common category. These mothers kill their children in the course of abuse without the intention of murder.

Revenge: These moms want to punish the father by taking away what she believes to be the most important thing to him: his kids.

Obviously all of these characteristics involve people that must be very mentally ill. I think kids need to be removed from homes that have parents with extreme mental issues, or,  at least, the situation needs to be very closely monitored by others. Many times the spouse is aware their partner has mental issues, but never thinks it will lead to murder. Timothy Fry knew his wife was depressed and on medications. He testified he even heard her say life would be easier without their daughter around. People need to be aware of signs and get help for the moms that are in trouble. If help is not found for a sick mom, it could result in the death of a child.

Here are more stories of moms who have killed their children, as well as resources to help those who might need it.  Let’s all work together in our communities to spot moms who need help.

Here is a link to the Camden Fry Memorial Fund, set-up by father Tim Fry to honor his daughter.

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Kristin Wheeler

About Kristin Wheeler

Kristin Wheeler is a stay-at-home mom of a 7 year old daughter and 4 year old son. She was previously a teacher for 8 years (in Virginia, Oklahoma, and California). She taught elementary and middle school, with a focus in technology. Kristin received her Bachelor's degree in Psychology and her Master's in Middle School Education from George Mason University in Fairfax, VA. Her husband is a professor at The University of Rhode Island.