On Friday, June 19th, the Autistic Self Advocacy Network issued a statement regarding the murder of Nicholas Richett.
On Friday, June 12th, police in Melvindale, Michigan found the bodies of Nicholas Richett, a 20-year-old autistic man, and his father. Nicholas was murdered by his father.
The Autistic Self Advocacy Network has seen far too many of these these tragic and unconscionable crimes. ASAN keeps a running list of disabled people who have been murdered by our parents or caregivers and honors their memory every march with a day of mourning. We fear that until our society begins to address these events with the outrage and condemnation they warrant, we will continue to find new names for that list.
We are disturbed by the way the Melvindale Police Department has publicly discussed the investigation of this terrible event. Chad Hayse, Chief of the Melvindale Police Department, commented that Richett “…feared his medical problems would take his life and then he wouldn’t be around to care for his son and he didn’t want to burden the family.” The implication in this statement is that Nicholas Richett, as a disabled person, was the burden. It is difficult to imagine that Chief Hayse would have made this sort of comment if the victim was not disabled.
When police rationalize murder of people with disabilities by their family members, they raise questions as to whether they are able to adequately protect the disabled community. Such expressions are discriminatory and go against the spirit of the Americans with Disabilities Act. People with disabilities are entitled to the same rights as people without disabilities. We urge both the Melvindale Police Department and members of the press covering this event to approach violence against people with disabilities in the same way as any other violence.
For more information, please see ASAN’s anti-filicide toolkit.