When most hear of killer children they usually think of school shooters…those frequently of high school age and qualifying for the mass murder category (killers of multiple people in one central location at one time). While sad and disturbing to hear about it’s not terribly shocking anymore; many schools now have metal detectors, bag checks, and other safety precautions just to prevent such things from occurring. However, what really can’t be prepared for by a school (or anyone) and is still rare enough to shock others is the child serial killer. Those pretty little girls and bright young boys who target, hunt, and kill those around them just as Dahmer, Bundy, and other adult serial killers would.
Jesse Pomeroy was known as “The Boston Boy Fiend” in the papers with good reason. At just twelve Pomeroy seemed a full grown sadistic psychopath; a boy who delighted in torturing smaller children. For nine months, starting in December 1871, he began to lure smaller boys away to bind, beat, and torture. When finally caught he was sentenced to reform school until he turned eighteen…after serving just under 17 months he was paroled and promptly killed ten-year-old Katie Curran and four-year-old Horace Millen. He was arrested, tried, convicted, and sentenced to death for the murder, but being so young there was controversy regarding the morality of executing him so the sentence was commuted to life.
The youngest serial killer in the United States was Craig Price, a.k.a. “The Slasher of Warwick” of Warwick, Rhode Island, who at the tender age of thirteen began killing in the 1980s. His first victim, Rebecca Spencer, was a woman he’d started out peeping on before graduating to breaking into her home and stabbing her to death with a kitchen knife. Two years later he killed Joan Heaton and her two daughters (Melissa, eight, and Jennifer, ten), also using a knife. Price freely confessed to the murders, was sentenced to prison, and is up for parole in 2019.
As of 2007 it seems the youngest serial killer on record might be eight-year-old Amardeep Sada of India. According to news articles the boy was caught when his latest victim, a six-month-old girl named Kushboo, was reported missing after left sleeping in the village’s primary school. Many already knew to look in the boy’s direction since this wasn’t the first time he’d been suspected of having killed an infant. He had apparently killed his eight-month-old sister three months before and started with killing his six-month-old cousin the year prior. The boy’s uncle (and father of the first victim) told local media that some villagers and family members were aware of the first two killings committed by the boy, but they were not reported since it was considered a “family matter”. With this final murder though the police were called in and eight-year-old Sada confessed saying that he’d taken the babies out to fields near the village, beat them with rocks, and buried them in shallow graves. While he’s been arrested and confessed to the murders the authorities wish to do further investigating into his mental state and there have been no new developments reported since.
Little Mary Bell was downright adorable at eleven with big blue eyes and a heart-shaped face. She was also the remorseless killer of two preschoolers…In fact she seemed to find it enjoyable, amusing even. Unlike the boy killers mentioned she had an accomplice in her best friend, Norma, who joined in the assaults on four other children in the span of a single day before they moved onto murder. On May 25, 1968 the body of three-year-old Martin Brown was found in an abandoned, run-down, house with blood and saliva caked around his mouth. It was little Mary who excitedly gave the boy’s aunt, Rita Finley, the terrible news. She and Norma continued to return to the woman’s house with happy grins asking if she missed her nephew and cried for him until the distraught woman threw them out, telling them not to return. Two months later, on July 31, another three-year-old boy named Brian Howe disappeared and when his older sister, Pat, went to look for him is was Mary and Norma who offered to help. The little boy was found later between two concrete blocks on a stretch of industrial waste ground where the local kids were known to play. He’d been strangled, sexually mutilated with a broken pair of scissors, and had the letter “M” carved into his belly with a razor. It didn’t take long for suspicions to fall on the two girls and they were soon brought in for questioning. With each girl blaming the other both were brought to trial. Norma was acquitted, Mary was sentenced to “detention for life”…she was released from jail in 1980 and has since tried to live a quiet, anonymous, life with the daughter she had in 1984.
Some Things Never Change
While these cases certainly differ from “normal” serial killer cases in the age of the murderer many other factors remain the same. All selected victims that were smaller and weaker than them (even at thirteen Craig Price had the physicality to kill the adult women he did) and that’s a cornerstone of serial killers – to pick the easiest targets that suit their deviant needs and desires.
Like many adult killers both Jesse Pomeroy and Mary Bell were the subject of horrific abuse; Jesse reenacted his father’s torturous beatings on his victims and Mary seemed to take her anger at being abused by the men her mother sold her to out on her victims (as with her sexual mutilation of little Brian Howe). Both Jesse and Mary also started on animals, a frequent occurrence with all serial killers no matter the age they begin to kill other humans. In Jesse’s case it became so that the family was unable to keep any kind of pet at all.
Mary was also recorded as having filled out the other aspects frequently found in adult serial killers. She had all characteristics of the Homicidal Triad; cruelty to animals, prolonged bedwetting, and vandalism via destruction of property (instead of the more commonly known pyromania). She also did a few other things seen in adult serial killers such as inject herself into the investigations, boast about her kills to others (her peers), and even taunt others in leaving notes – such as one in a nursery she and Norma broke into and destroyed two days after Brown’s body was found that said: “we did murder Martain brown Fuckof you Bastard”.