McCarron Indicted On New Charges In Daughter's Suffocation
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
June 5, 2006
PEKIN, ILLINOIS--A grand jury has indicted Dr. Karen McCarron on two counts of first-degree murder, two counts of obstructing justice, and one count of concealing a homicidal death related to the suffocation death of her 3-year-old daughter, Katie.
Police charged McCarron, 37, with murder after she admitted that on May 13 she took her daughter, who had autism, to the home of the girl's grandmother, where she held a plastic trash bag over her head until she stopped breathing.
According to the Peoria Journal Star, the Tazewell County grand jury last Thursday added the obstruction and concealment charges because McCarron evidently took her daughter's dead body from the scene of the crime to her own house, and placed it in bed to make it look as if the girl was napping. McCarron also went back to retrieve the plastic bag and discarded it in a gas station garbage can.
Days later, McCarron reportedly said she was overwhelmed by her daughter's disability and wanted to "end her pain and her daughter's pain".
McCarron's father-in-law has said that the killing had nothing to do with autism, noting that Katie had been with her mother for less than two weeks after spending several months with her father and grandparents in North Carolina.
McCarron could face up to 100 years in prison if convicted of the murder charges. The additional charges could add more prison time. She has been on suicide watch in jail and is currently being held on $1 million bond.
As has happened in other cases where children with disabilities were killed by their parents, many news articles and weblogs commenting on Katie's death emphasized that raising a child with autism brings with it unique challenges that can be difficult for parents to deal with. Some have suggested that McCarron may have been overly stressed because she did not have the supports she needed to deal with her daughter's autism.
Over the weekend, three major opinion pieces strongly rejected any justification for Katie's murder.
"If we are going to start being compassionate to parents who kill their kids, let's be compassionate to all of them," wrote Dr. Sheila T. Romano, Director of the Illinois Council on Developmental Disabilities, in a Sunday letter to the Journal Star. "But if we are going to say it's not OK for parents to take the life of their children, than let's be consistent and stop pretending that killing children with disabilities is any different than killing any other child. This is the only moral, ethical, medical, psychological, legal or legislative view that can be taken."
Cammie McGovern, the parent of a 10-year-old son with autism, suggested in Monday's New York Times that a culture which emphasizes "dramatic improvement" over acceptance sets parents up to expect "miracle cures" and to blame children and parents for the child's differences.
"In mythologizing recovery, I fear we've set an impossibly high bar that's left the parents of a half-million autistic children feeling like failures," McGovern wrote.
"To aim for full recovery -- for the person your child might have been without autism -- is to enter a dangerous emotional landscape."
Columbus Dispatch columnist Deborah Kendrick wrote, "we need to help parents who have been assigned such jobs for which they never applied."
"But to justify hurting or murdering any child is garbage . . . A child is the greatest gift there is. A parent who destroys that gift deserves no pity."
"Unhealthy to rationalize Katie McCarron's death" by Sheila T. Romano (Peoria Journal Star)
"Autism's Parent Trap" by Cammie McGovern (New York Times)
"Autistic kids fall victim to parents who run amok" by Deborah Kendrick (Columbus Dispatch)
"Please fight temptation to exploit child murder" (Inclusion Daily Express Weblog)
"Karen McCarron: Doctor Says She Killed Daughter To 'End Their Pain'" (Inclusion Daily Express Archives)