J. McCabe has been sentenced to life in prison for the murder of her autistic six year old son London McCabe. Ms. McCabe murdered London by throwing him off the Yaquina Bay Bridge in 2014, thereby ending his life. ASAN is pleased that the sentence is consistent with those typically given to parents who murder their children. This sentence reflects a recognition by the court that London McCabe’s life had value and that a victim’s disability should never be viewed as an excuse for murder.
People with disabilities are at a high risk of being abused or even killed by their relatives. In the last 7 years, over 180 people with disabilities have been murdered by their parents or caregivers. Yet in so many of these terrible cases, media coverage paints the murderer in a sympathetic light and courts hand down far lighter sentences than they would if the child didn’t have a disability. This irresponsible coverage can lead to further violence: Ms.McCabe herself posted “This video spoke so much to me” in response to an Autism Speaks video depicting a woman talking about wanting to murder her child.1 Ms. McCabe also stated in a post that she barely refrained from “pulling a Thelma and Louise,” referring to a film in which two friends both commit suicide.2
On March 1, ASAN will hold its 6th annual Disability Day of Mourning to grieve disabled victims of murder by family members and challenge the narratives that contributed to their deaths. You can learn about the Disability Day of Mourning and can find out where a vigil is being held in your local area here.
Although London’s life is lost forever, he will not be forgotten. We thank the Lincoln County public, who drew attention to the cruelty of London McCabe’s murder through mementos, vigils, and tributes to the boy who died so young. We also thank local district prosecutors for their zealous pursuit of a fair verdict and sentence in this case. We hope this sets a precedent and signals a change in how these cases are prosecuted and understood by the general public. We hope for a future in which people realize that all lives are valuable and that no lives are tragedies just because of disability.
- Jillian McCabe, This is our life., Autistic London, Sep. 30, 2011, archived at http://web.archive.org/web/20130807091731/http://autisticlondon.com/2011/09/this-is-our-life/; Autism Speaks, Autism Every Day, (May 9, 2006), www.youtube.com/watch?v=O0vCz2KWMM0;
See Autism speaks documentry ever: Mom Spoke on wanting to murder her kid right in front of the child, YouTube, available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=Al96VCYOgm8. It is also worth noting that In May 2006, when “Autism Every Day” was released, it was followed within less than a week by the murder of another autistic child, Katie McCarron, who was suffocated by her mother. See People v. Frank-McCarron, 934 NE 2d 76 – Ill: Appellate Court, 3rd Dist. 2010.
- Susan Donaldson James & Cassandra Vinograd, Jillian McCabe Was ‘Overwhelmed’ Before Autistic Son’s Fatal Plunge, in NBC News, Nov. 5, 2014, available at http://www.nbcnews.com/health/mental-health/jillian-mccabe-was-overwhelmed-autistic-sons-fatal-plunge-n241176. Also see Chris Spargo, The desperate videos of Jillian McCabe – ‘the mother who threw her son off a bridge,’ in Daily Mail Online, Nov. 4, 2014, available at http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2820994/I-thought-pulling-Thelma-Louise-desperate-videos-mother-threw-6-year-old-son-death-bridge-mental-breakdown.html.