Children Who Kill Their Parents
Amy Fisher Research Topic
Specific Characters--Real
General Guides to Gothic Literature
Guy Fawkes Page
Gothic Literature Page
Gothic Bibliographies Page
Direct Examination: Some Suggested Authors and Topics
French Language Mysteries
Specific Characters (Fictional)
Representations of Rape in Popular Culture


"I Wish My Parents Were Dead"

Children's Fantasies Made Reality









Children who kill members of their families do so for a number of reasons, some of them readily understandable to adults and some seemingly simply the working out of immature desires. Children who kill in literature and the movies are as numerous as their motives.

Historical child murderers include Constance Kent, tried for the murder of her young brother Frederick.

Some contemporary accounts of the trial include

Constance Kent : the cause and consequence of her confession ; with Lord Eldon's reference to the twelve judges on an analogous case tried by him and their Lordships' decision on the admissibility of a prisoner's confession in evidence ; the right of translation is reserved (London: Frederick Arnold, 1865).

The Confession of Constance Kent of the murder of her brother, Francis Kent, on June 29th, 1860 (S.l: S.n., 1865).

Davies, James, The case of Constance E. Kent, viewed in the light of the Holy Catholic Church (London: J. Masters, 1865).

Hood, Edwin Paxton, The case of Constance Kent, viewed in the light of the confessional : rough notes of a sermon preached in Queen Square Chapel, Brighton (London & Brighton: Jackson, Walford & Hodder, 1865).

Lamentation & confession of Constance Kent : who now lies under sentence of death, for the murder of her brother at Road-hill House, on the 29th June, 1860 (Monmouth Court: W. S. Fortey, 1860). A broadside in verse. Part of the Albert Borowitz collection of the Kent State University Libraries.

The Road murder : being a complete report and analysis of the various examinations and opinions of the press on this mysterious tragedy (London: Taylor and Greening, 1860).

Spurgeon, C. H., Confession of Sin


Atlay, James Beresford, Famous trials of the century ... (Chicago: H. S. Stone and Co., 1899). Includes The Road Mystery, reprinted from the Cornhill Magazine.

The Anatomy of Murder: famous crimes critically considered by members of the Detection club: Helen Simpson, John Rhode [pseud.] ... [and others] (London: J. Lane, 1936). Includes John Rhode, Constance Kent.

Bridges, Yseult, Saint-- with red hands? : the chronicle of a great crime (London: Macmillan, 1970). Reprint of The Tragedy at Road-hill House.

Bridges, Yseult, The tragedy at Road-hill House. Being the true chronicle of a celebrated murder which occurred at Road-hill House, Wilts, England, on June 30, 1860, and which involed a lovely young girl, Constance Kent, who refused to defend herself from the wicked charge of slaying her infant step-brother, and whose trial and its sensational sequel inflamed the people of two countries to fever pitch. Here is new evidence which raises fresh doubts whether justice was done (NY: Rinehart, 1955).

Gribble, Leonard Reginald, Queens of crime (London: Hurst & Blackett, 1932). Includes a chapter on Constance Kent.

Jesse, Fryniwyd Tennyson, Murder & its motives (London: Heinemann, 1924). Includes The Murder From Revenge: Constance Kent.

Rhode, John, The case of Constance Kent (NY: Scribner, 1928)(Famous Trials Series).

Sensational Murders of the Nineteenth Century

Taylor, Bernard, Cruelly murdered : Constance Kent and the killing at Road Hill House (London: Grafton, 1979).

Williamson, William Henry, Annals of crime: Some Extraordinary Women (London: Routledge & Sons, 1930). Includes a chapter on Constance Kent.


Constance Kent (1981). Stars Harry Andrews.

Library of Congress search terms include Parricide and Matricide.

The Menendez Cases

The sensational trial of Lyle and Erik Menendez has been made into two television movies:  Menendez: A Killing in Beverly Hills (1994) and Honor Thy Father and Mother: The True Story of the Menendez Murders (1994).   Documentaries on the case include the following:

The Menendez brothers on trial: the real story (NY: Courtroom Television Network, 1994)(Trial Story).

The Menendez Murders (NY: A&E Home Video; dist. by New Video Group, 1996)(American Justice). Originally aired on A&E, this documentary features the narration of Bill Kurtis. Kurtis himself is an attorney as well as a journalist.

Murder in Beverly Hills: The Menendez Trial (MPI Home Video, 1991). Originally aired on ABC, this documentary features investigative reporter Diane Sawyer.

Interesting topics for research and analysis might include the contrast between the real life legal analysis of the case and the impression of non-lawyers (including journalists), and the fictionalized versions presented in the movies. How much did pre-trial publicity seem to affect these perceptions? How much effect did the widely publicized and analyzed news of the hung jury and the re-trials have on the ultimate outcomes? How does the public regard defenses such as the child abuse defense advanced in the case? Was the issue one of credibility in general or of credibility of these particular defendants?  To find background information, search databases and periodical indexes for legal newspapers and periodicals, such as the Index to Legal Periodicals, Current Law Index (called Legal Resource Index on Lexis and WESTLAW), and databases and periodical indexes for newspapers and magazines, such as the New York Times Index and Reader's Guide to Periodical Literature. Also search online catalogs and databases to find both first hand accounts by the principals and analyses of the real life case, such as the following titles:

First Person Accounts

Menendez, Lyle, The Private Diary of Lyle Menendez: In His Own Voice (Beverly Hills, CA: Dove Audio, 1995). Two sound cassettes.

Menendez, Lyle, The Private Diary of Lyle Menendez: In His Own Words! (Beverly Hills, CA: Cove Books, 1995).

Thornton, Hazel, Hung Jury: The Diary of a Menendez Juror (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1995).

Commentaries and Analysis

Davis, Don, Bad Blood: The Shocking True Story Behind the Menendez Killings (NY: St. Martin’s Paperbacks,, 1994)(St. Martin’s True Crime Library).

Futterman, Steve, The Menendez Murder Trial (NY: Simon and Schuster Audio, 1994)(Courtroom Cassettes; 1). One audiocassette.

Soble, Ron, Blood Brothers: The Inside Story of the Menendez Murders (NY: Penguin, 1994).

Library of Congress search terms include Parricide and Matricide.

Child and Young Adult Murderers in Fiction and Film


Levin, Meyer, Compulsion

Golding, William, Lord of the Flies ()


At Bertram's Hotel (TV Movie, 1986). Based on the novel by Agatha Christie.

The Bad Seed (). Featuring Patty McCormick as the murderous little girl, this movie is the quintessential "evil child" movie.

The Butcher Boy (1997).

Compulsion (). See also the movies Rope () and Swoon (1992)

The Devil Times Five (1974).

Guilty Until Proven Innocent (TV Movie 1997)

Holy Terror (1977).

Lord of the Flies (). Based on the novel by William Golding.

The Morrison Murders (TVM 1996)

Paradise Lost: The Child Murders at Robin Hood Hills (1996)

Pharoah's Army (1995)

The Rockford Files: I Still Love LA (TVM 1994).

Sling Blade (1996)

Some Folks Call It a Sling Blade (1993). An earlier telling of the Karl Childers story, made famous by Billy Bob Thornton's movie Sling Blade.




Bardsley, Marilyn, Crime Library: Charles Starkweather and Caril Fugate

The Mass Murder Website: Charles Starkweather

Reinhardt, James Melvin, The Murderous Trail of Charles Starkweather (1960).



Badlands (1973). Terrence Malick directed this adaptation of the Starkweather spree killings story. The tag line is "In 1959 a lot of people were killing time. Kit and Holly were killing people." Note that Caril Fugate has always denied that she participated voluntarily in the killings.

Murder in the Heartland (TV Movie 1993). Docudrama based on the Starkweather/Fugate story.









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