On Saturday, September 14th, Marilyn Edge murdered her son Jaelen, and her daughter, Faith. Jaelen, age 13, was autistic. His mother left his body with that of his nine-year-old sister’s, only revealing the location of their bodies to authorities after multiple suicide attempts. Jaelen and Faith join Issy Stapelton, Alex Spourdalakis, and the dozens of other autistic victims of murder or attempted murder at the hands of their parents.
In recent years, the societal response to parents who murder their disabled children has been one of sympathy. Service shortages, stress, and lack of support and understanding are all discussed and offered as plausible reasons for why it might be understandable or acceptable for a parent to murder their disabled child. Most recently, these appalling attempts to whitewash and excuse away the murder of disabled children by their parents took form in a report by CBS news which attempted to exonerate Alex Spourdalakis’ murderers. In the two weeks following the airing of this report, Kelli Stapleton attempted to murder her daughter, and Marilyn Edge succeeded in murdering both of her children.
The Autistic Self Advocacy Network is concerned that attempts to justify parents murdering their disabled children serve not only as insults to the victims of these crimes, but also as models for other parents to copy. Autistic and otherwise disabled children who are murdered by their parents are deserving of equal protection under the law as well as the universal condemnation of their murders. With every death, it becomes more and more clear that failure to enforce this basic social contract translates to copycat crimes. It is time for the disability and autism communities to send a clear, united, and decisive message:
It is wrong for a parent to murder their child.
Every child deserves to live. Every child deserves to live with parental figures who will not murder them.
No child deserves to be murdered by their parent.
The Autistic Self Advocacy Network is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization run by and for Autistic people. ASAN’s supporters include Autistic adults and youth, cross-disability advocates, and non-autistic family members, professionals, educators and friends. ASAN was created to provide support and services to individuals on the autism spectrum while working to educate communities and improve public perceptions of autism. Its activities include public policy advocacy, community engagement to encourage inclusion and respect for neurodiversity, quality of life oriented research, and the development of Autistic cultural activities.