Introduction to Parricide: When Children Kill Parents

  • Deb Huntley Concordia University, St. Paul
  • Cody Charette
  • Kimberly Dodson Department of Social and Cultural Sciences at the University of Houston - Clear Lake
  • Heather Grammatico
  • Laura Cooney-Koss
  • Olivia N. Johnson Blue Wall Institute; Institute for Intergovernmental Research
  • Jerrod Brown American Institute for the Advancement of Forensic Studies (AIAFS); Forensic Scholars Today (FST)


Parricide is the murdering of a parent, close relative, or primary caregiver by a minor or adult child. As a crime, society finds it both disturbing and incomprehensible. While parricide is an uncommon occurrence, its effects are devastating to families and communities. This article provides an introduction to the topic of parricide. It addresses various types of parricide, associated statistics on its prevalence, and characteristics of both perpetrators and victims. Additionally, this article presents major research findings on motives for parricide and information about predicting and reducing the likelihood of such incidents.

Keywords: Children, murder parent, parricide, relative

Author Biographies

Deb Huntley, Concordia University, St. Paul

Deb Huntley, Ph.D., is a licensed psychologist and psychology faculty member at in the Social and Behavioral Sciences department at Concordia University, St. Paul. She earned her Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from the University of Houston, with a concentration in Child and Family Psychology. Dr. Huntley has been in academics for more than twenty-five years and has published and presented at regional and national conferences. Her research and areas of professional interest include child and family issues, psychopathology, and forensic mental health. She is currently a member of the editorial review board for The Family Journal, Forensic Scholars Today, and the Journal of Special Populations. 

Cody Charette

Cody Charette holds a Ph.D., from the Psychology, Policy, and Law program of the California School of Forensic Studies at Alliant International University located in Fresno, CA. He specializes in threat assessment, deception detection, intelligence analysis, data analysis, and the use of technology for indirect assessment of offenders. He is currently a data analyst for the Fresno Fire Department in Fresno, California. 

Kimberly Dodson, Department of Social and Cultural Sciences at the University of Houston - Clear Lake

Kimberly Dodson, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor and Criminology Program Director for in the Department of Social and Cultural Sciences at the University of Houston – Clear Lake. She earned her Ph.D. in criminology from Indiana University of Pennsylvania. Prior to working in academia, Dr. Dodson was a deputy sheriff and criminal investigator for the Green County Sheriff’s Department in Greeneville, Tennessee. As a criminal investigator, she worked cases primarily involving the sexual abuse and exploitation of juveniles. Her research interests include evidence-based correctional policies, police practices as they relate to race and gender, and advocacy for special needs offenders. Dr. Dodson’s research has been published in a variety of criminology and psychology journals. She is the coauthor of Corrections: Exploring Crimes, Punishment, and Justice in America and editor of the Handbook on Offenders with Special Needs. 

Heather Grammatico

Heather Grammatico, Ph.D., MS, has her doctoral degree in Psychology with a specialization in Forensic Psychology from Walden University. She also has her Master in Forensic Psychology from Walden University. Dr. Grammatico has worked in many forensic settings including within the child welfare system, the juvenile probation system, and as a social worker within the prison system. Her area of interest and previous research focuses on correctional officer stress and emotional labor. 

Laura Cooney-Koss

Laura Cooney-Koss, Psy.D., M.C.J., has her Doctorate and Master's Degree in clinical psychology, with a specialization in forensic psychology from Widener University’s Institute of Graduate Clinical Psychology. She also has a Master’s Degree in criminal justice obtained from Widener University. Dr. Cooney-Koss is licensed to practice psychology in Delaware and New Jersey. Dr. Cooney-Koss is the clinical director of her own practice, Forensic Associates of Delaware where she and the other psychologists in the practice conduct forensic evaluations for a variety of psycholegal referral questions as well as conduct trainings on forensic topics. Some of Dr. Cooney-Koss' subspecialties include sexual offending, sexual abuse, and trauma. Prior to establishing her own practice, Dr. Cooney-Koss was a psychologist in a medium security male prison for 11 years. She functioned in a variety of supervisory and clinical functions while at this prison. Many aspects of Dr. Cooney-Koss' job involved the training and clinical supervision of staff and doctoral level psychology students. Dr. Cooney-Koss was also greatly involved in the quality assurance aspects of providing mental health services and establishing new protocols to meet the changing needs of the inmate population. 

Olivia N. Johnson, Blue Wall Institute; Institute for Intergovernmental Research

Olivia Johnson, DM, holds a doctorate in Organizational Leadership Management from the University of Phoenix, School of Advanced Studies. She is the Illinois State Representative and active Board Member for the National Police Suicide Foundation, she holds a three-year term with the Illinois Suicide Prevention Alliance (ISPA) as a suicidology researcher, and is an active ISPA member. Her life’s work is focused on suicide awareness and prevention efforts through research, publication, and community efforts.

Jerrod Brown, American Institute for the Advancement of Forensic Studies (AIAFS); Forensic Scholars Today (FST)

Jerrod Brown, Ph.D., is the Treatment Director for Pathways Counseling Center, Inc. Pathways provides programs and services benefiting individuals impacted by mental illness and addictions. Jerrod is also the founder and CEO of the American Institute for the Advancement of Forensic Studies (AIAFS), and the Editor-in-Chief of Forensic Scholars Today (FST) and the Journal of Special Populations (JSP). Jerrod has completed four separate master’s degree programs and  holds graduate certificates in Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), Other Health Disabilities (OHD), and Traumatic-Brain Injuries (TBI). Jerrod is certified as a Youth Firesetter Prevention/Intervention Specialist, Thinking for a Change (T4C) Facilitator, Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) Trainer, and a Problem Gambling Treatment Provider.