Violence against children is not new, and statistically, it is generally not more prevalent now than it has historically been. Studies show that about 33 percent of homicides in which the killer can be identified are committed by a family member. In Indiana County, recent crimes against children have become more violent, and more numerous.
Lewis Beatty pleads guilty to this summer’s brutal murders of his wife and two daughters. Nearby on the same weekend Beatty committed those killings, Shaun Fairman allegedly shoots to death his father-in-law and then goes gunning for others as his estranged wife and children hide in the house. She shoots him before he can shoot her. Shawn Anderson-Holmes pleads guilty in the suffocation death of his girlfriend’s toddler. Clayton Mibroda is accused of killing his twenty-day-old daughter. Joshua Turner… convicted in the shaken-baby death of his girlfriend’s son.
Indiana County District Attorney Pat Dougherty says in the cases of deliberate murder, he often finds the killer feels his dominant role in the family has been threatened. .
In the accidental or abusive death cases, the DA says young fathers or boyfriends have been left in charge of children for whom they are unequipped to care. He cites a variety of factors including economics, unstable family situations, and personal history.
From his perspective, Dougherty says the number one measure to head off tragedy is simple communication.
View our in-depth video interview with District Attorney Pat Dougherty in the video below. In part two of our series “Attack on Innocence”, coming Monday, Kristina Taylor-Porter of Indiana’s Center for Family Life will examine her agency’s unique role in protecting children in abusive situations.