A familicide is a type of murder or murder-suicide in which at least one spouse and one or more children are killed. In some cases all of the family members' lives are taken. [Familicide : The Killing of Spouse and Children http://psych.mcmaster.ca/dalywilson/FamilicideSpouseChildren.pdf]

Of 909 cases of mass murder (defined as 4 victims within a 24 hour period) in the US from 1900 to 2000, more than half occurred within an immediate family. So that although the total number of familicide cases are relatively rare, they are the most common form of mass killings. However, statistical data is difficult to establish due to reporting discrepancies. Berton, Justin. [http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2007/06/20/EXPLAINER.TMP Familicide: Experts say family murder-suicides, though rare, are most common mass killing] . "San Francisco Examiner", June 20, 2007]

Familicide differs from mass murder in that the murderer kills family members or loved ones rather than anonymous people. This has a different psychodynamic and psychiatric significance, but the distinction is not always made. [Malmquist, Carl P., MD. "Homicide: A Psychiatric Perspective." Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Publishing, 1996, ISBN 978-0880486903]

A study of 30 cases in Ohio found that most of the killings were motivated by a parent's desire to stop their children's suffering.

In Australia, a study was done of seven cases of filicide followed by suicide in which marital separation followed by custody and access disputes were identified as an issue. Some common factors such as marital discord, unhappiness, domestic violence, sexual abuse, threats of harm to self or others were found in varying degrees. It was not clear what could be done in terms of prevention.Johnson, Carolyn. "Familicide and Custody Disputes - Dispelling The Myths." University of Western Australia, [http://www.community.wa.gov.au/NR/rdonlyres/06788E97-F3E8-4B83-8D71-335F8FB0AA60/0/DCDRPT FamilicideAbstract_CarolynJohnson.pdf] ]

Famous familicides

*Chris Benoit, June 24, 2007, killed his wife, son, and himself
*Ronald DeFeo, Jr., November 13, 1974, killed his father, mother, two brothers and two sisters.
*Jeffrey MacDonald, February 17, 1970, killed his wife and two pre-school daughters.
*John List, November 9, 1971, killed his mother, wife and three teenage children.
*In Metalocalypse, William Murderface's father kills his wife with a chainsaw before turning the chainsaw on himself.
*Christopher Foster, August 25, 2008, killed wife, daughter, and pets. Set home on fire before killing himself. [http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1051910/Arson-tycoon-created-oil-pipeline-flood-home-burning-fuel-shooting-daughter-head.html]

Related terms

*Filicide - A parent, or parents killing their own child, or children.
*Infanticide - The killing of one's child, or children up to 12 months of age.


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