Thursday, May 01, 2008

Why do people kill babies?

In Newark, California, a community near my last home in that state, a 23-year-old man has been charged with the beating death of his 2-month-old son. While tragic, in the annals of violent childhood death, this scenario isn't particularly unusual. But there is an added twist in the case that causes me to question whether or not the father is the actual culprit.

You see, the man is married and it seems the infant who died was left in the father’s care in his home…the same home he shares with his wife and other son, who is four. The wife was aware of the infant’s existence…and thereby her husband’s infidelity…and was actually home during some of the time the child of her husband’s paramour was in the house.

Now, police investigators have come to the conclusion that it was the father who assaulted and killed the infant and he has been arrested and so charged. But was it him or someone else, someone who had reason to be unhappy with the child’s very existence? It wouldn’t be the first time that a woman had hostile feelings for a child her man fathered on another woman.

Here in South Africa I remember stopping at a red light and reading the headlines a newsboy was holding up. An infant had been murdered during a robbery in local home. Immediately, I was suspicious.

The particulars, spelled out in the headlines and subhead, indicated the child was the only casualty of a daylight home-invasion robbery. Who robs a house and kills only the baby, leaving the adult eye-witnesses alive? Ok, I’m the first to admit that people who commit burglaries in lower-income neighbourhoods are probably not members of the intelligentsia, but c’mon…leave the people who can identify you alive, but kill the baby, who cannot? Something was definitely wrong here.

I mentioned this “clinker” to my husband and he turned to me incredulously. “Who would want to kill a baby?” he asked. “What kind of person would do that?”

I explained to him that there were women out there who would want the death of a child fathered by her boyfriend/husband. They would resent the lifelong connection to another woman, resent the financial drain of child support, resent the interruption of her own life that the child would represent. Instead of an idyllic romance with the man of her dreams, such a woman could easily feel bitter about the role of step-mother being thrust upon her, or the time her man might spend with the child…another woman’s child.

Some women of this nature would simply dump the man and try to find one without all the baggage. Other women might try to create and impose some structure on the relationship with the child and its mother. But there are a few who would seek to remove the obstacle, to remove forever the need for her man to have any connection to a previous love by removing the product of that love.

And so it turned out in the South African story. Dina Rodriguez, unhappy with the existence of her lover’s 6-month-old baby daughter by a previous relationship, conspired to have the baby killed. She hired several young men, provided them with a delivery package for them to use as a ruse to get the family to open the door to them, and the rest is history. Baby Jordan died and Dina’s path to a blissful romance with the child’s father was cleared. Until the police proved exactly what I had suspected on the day I learned of the crime and she was sentenced to spend the remainder of her days in prison.

Why do people kill babies? There are those who smother unwanted newborns and those who kill a child out of frustration with its incessant screaming. There are those whose personal demons lead them to abuse or neglect their children to the point of death, and even those whose religious delusions cause them to believe that killing their children is the will of their deity.

But there are also deeply selfish individuals who have no compunctions about ending the life of an innocent child for nothing more than to further their own agenda, to eliminate what they view as a hindrance to their happiness. Such a woman is Dina Rodriguez, and I would be utterly unsurprised to learn that a certain wife in Newark, California is cut from the very same cloth.


  1. hi i am sorry about the 2-moonth-year old.because i have a baby sister and i love her to death every body need somebody just like my dad say stop the killing pray for aliving

  2. I was wondering how the story of a father killing his son became, in your hands, a completely different story of how a mother must have done it, and how women in general probably kill children a lot more than we think. I've always thought the opposite, that too many mothers are accused of killing children the fathers probably killed. This man had more reason to kill the 'extra' son than the mother did, because he wouldn't just be 'babysitting,' as men call it when they take care of their own child, but paying for the child as well. A man is often livid with rage when he has to pay real money for something like a child, that came from something, sex in this case, that was just supposed to be pleasure for him. They often take this out on the resulting child in less violent ways, such as abandonment. Why not murder?

    I am not surprised at all to find that your identity is female. Men are often more embarrassed to bash women than women are, and this flip-flop thinking of yours takes the cake. Thanks, Che Joubert

  3. Apparently, Che, you did not read the entire entry. Dina Rodriguez was convicted of the murder of Baby Jordan and is presently in prison for the crime.

    I was remarking on the similarity of the murder of two infants and how people often leap to the conclusion that the father is the culprit when, in fact, there are other possibilities...and Dina Rodriguez represents that other possibility in spades.

  4. the issue here is that sometimes when a person gets involved with someone who has a very young baby or todler from a previous relationship there can be dred placed on this child eventhough the child is innocent and didnt ask to be born it may not take away the fact that weather your partner has nothing more to do with the childs father or indeed mother you will conciously be reminded of the life long connection that they will have with the ex due to their baby being present, and so it is not as rare as we may think for hatred or abuse or worse to ensue, unfortunately this has happenned since humanity has evolved and is when thinking about it very animalistic and primal but none the less is very present and active in this present modern day world and always will be" afterall humankind isnt a planet of perfectness we are flawed as much as the lions of africa eating there own young,

    1. I live in Africa and have for nearly 10 years. The lions do not eat their own young, they eat the young of other animals (es well as the old, infirm, and sickly). Lions, including the males of the species, live in large family groups called "prides" and they take care of the young...the fathers even play with their cubs.

      Few mammals eat their own young, although the males of some species may kill the young of their own kind. But except in the case of dire starvation, they are not inclined to eat their own kind.

      Which makes people who kill babies and little kids into even greater monster: the beast of the veldt takes better care of its young than these sorry excuses for human beings.


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