Tuesday, October 6, 2015

11 year old murderers...

Yesterday, I read the tragic story of 8 year old McKayla Dyer, who lived in a mobile home park in White Pine, Tennessee and had been bullied by her eleven year old neighbor.  McKayla was outside playing with a friend when the neighbor boy came over and asked to see her puppy.  McKayla said no, so the boy went home, got his father's 12 gauge shotgun and shot McKayla from a window in his family's single wide trailer.  The bullet hit McKayla in the chest.  She was taken to a hospital, where she died.

This story hit me hard because it reminded me a lot of my own upbringing in rural Virginia.  I grew up in an area probably not too different than White Pine.  I played with the kids in my neighborhood, though I often got in fights with a couple of the boys.  They were typical country boys who rode motorcycles and played with bows and arrows, slingshots, and yes, guns.  They used BB guns, but they were clearly learning how to use the weapons so they might eventually graduate to more substantial firearms.

Fortunately, the kids in my neighborhood were not "homicidal" types.  Though we were not closely supervised by anyone, our families all knew each other at least casually.  No one ever got seriously hurt during our scuffles.  We each also had to take a hunter safety course.  I have heard they no longer make kids take that class.  Maybe it's because the county I grew up in is no longer as rural as it was.  When I was in high school, it was not unusual to see guys driving their pickups to school with their rifles in their gun racks.  We didn't have the gun violence back then that we seem to have now.  Or maybe it just seems that way.

My first reaction when I read this story was that the eleven year old's parents should be charged with a crime.  There's no reason an eleven year old child should have had access to a loaded shotgun.  The boy is now being charged with first degree murder, which seems pretty extreme for a child as young as he is.  There is talk he will be charged as an adult, which means that his life will be ruined.  But had one of the adults in his home locked up the gun and the ammunition in separate places, it's highly unlikely he'd be in this situation.  Hell, if they hadn't had the gun in the first place, McKayla would still be alive and that boy would not be sitting in jail, possibly for the rest of his life.

Not knowing the kid in question, I have to wonder what kind of person he is.  Did he really understand that aiming that shotgun at McKayla and pulling the trigger would result in her death?    Did he think shooting her was a joke?  Or did he really intend to kill her?  Maybe he meant to kill the puppy.  I can't even fathom it.  Having grown up in rural Virginia where it's common for people to hunt, I wonder if the killer's parents had the shotgun for hunting. Or was it for personal protection?  Or were the kid's parents criminals of some sort?  I also wonder what kind of home the boy was living in.  Was he being abused?  It sounds like he may have been home alone.  When I was a kid, I was left home alone at age eleven... but we didn't have weapons in our house.

Comments on this case are pretty interesting.  For instance:

One has to wonder what this kid's parents were like. They were obviously poor as they lived in a trailer park. I wonder, were they alcoholics? Drug users? I'll bet a thousand dollars they were abusive to the boy. I really think sociopaths are not born sociopaths. They become that way from abuse/neglect. I've worked with youth as young as five and six years old who use violence as a ways to communicate their needs. I wonder if CPS had ever been involved. If the parents of this little girl reported him to the principal, chances are other parents did too as well as some teachers. The parents of the boy absolutely should be held responsible and brought up on manslaughter. If their son had taken their car because they left the keys where he could get them and he killed someone on a joy ride, they would be held liable. Why are our laws so lenient when guns are involved?

    • I call BS! What a snob you are to make so many assumptions in a one paragraph pile of dog crap! You can't make somebody a psychopath any more than you can make someone a saint. Some people are just born without souls and others (you) are born without working brains.

        • What are your credentials in the field of psychology? I possess two post graduate degrees in a closely related field. I studied sociopathy extensively on my own. I worked in a mental health clinic. I have worked with emotionally disturbed youth for the better part of the last two decades. I DO know what i speak of. When a child isn't given proper affection and is chronically neglected/abused certain synapses in the brain fail to connect. This is scientific fact. Children growing up in abusive homes tend to grow up to be abusers. I will wait for either your apology or for you to state your education and experience in the field of psychology. And next time I suggest you know what you're talking about before you spout off.
      Actually, I'd say for someone who has graduate education in a "closely related field", the above commenter seems pretty closed-minded.  People who live in trailer parks are often poor, but not always.  And just because a person lives in a mobile home and owns a shotgun, that doesn't mean they are an addict or an alcoholic.  I don't think we have enough information about this case to accurately make such sweeping judgments about the type of people involved.

      I'm sure more information will come out, though since the murderer is a child, we may never know exactly what the story is.  My heart goes out to McKayla's family, especially her mother, who is clearly devastated by what has happened.



      1. I agree with everything you've written. Even a gun cabinet is not sufficiently secure a place for people with kids, or really anyone, to store firearms in my opinion.they really belong in something s secure as a safe. I understand that they must be accessible to the owners, but too accessible means this sort of thing happens.

        Who knows just what the kid really understood about the finality of death -- I'd like to think the boy knew the girl wasn't coming back soon in any form, but who knows? His parent put him in an unconscionable position by having a firearm that he could access.

        You probably grew up in the very last generation that had much freedom as children to learn to negotiate and to work things out on their own without adult interference. I don't think people my age for the most part have that ability.

        1. Well... I'd like to think the boy didn't know better, but I have a sick feeling that he meant to kill. I am thinking he wanted to kill the puppy and decided to kill the girl instead when she said "no". If he's a sociopath, then he probably needs to be locked up. If he's not, it's likely that his life is about to be hell from now on. Just a horrible story either way.

        2. Gosh, he probably did intend to kill the dog. He probably wasn't born evil, though. I wonder what made him homicidal.

        3. Any number of things... If you watch the news report, it looks like he lived in a shitty place. While at this point, we have no way of knowing what his parents/guardians are like, there's a pretty good chance he was being abused. A lot of what the commenter I quoted in my post wrote may be accurate. But really, there's no telling.


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