Information, observations, and analysis from the James River valley on the Northern Plains-----
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The Twin Cities metropolitan area has experienced a number of murders of parents by their children recently. However, two stand out for the premeditation and assistance by friends.
In early October in Hastings, Minnesota, 17-year-old Matthew Niedre was charged with gunning down his parents in their business. He had enlisted the help of friends by offering the $15,000 in money he assumed would come to them. Matthew attended a parochial school. News accounts say he had argued with his parents about missing church services, flirting with younger girls at church, and wanting to attend a different church.
Last week, 20-year-old Grant Everson was accused of killing his mother in her Chaska home. A friend, after asking Mrs. Everson whether she wanted to be shot in the chest or the head, shot her in the head. Mr. Everson, who heard the shot and believed the young men would come gunning for him, escaped to a neighbor's home by going out a closet window. The young men wanted to take the insurance from the deaths and open a coffee shop in Amsterdam where they could sell marijuana.
Social scientists say these incidents are anecdotal and should not be seen as a trend. They say that only about 1 to 2 percent of the murders in the U.S. are parricide, the killing of parents. But as our professor in a philosophy of science class said, scientific conclusions are drawn from bunches of anecdotes. And even if the killings of parents are unusual, they still merit probing into what frame of mind and what influences motivate children from apparently functional homes to kill their parents for money.
We do not know what manner of beast is slouching toward Bethlehem, but we have some creatures we can examine to find out.
Our reference is William Butler Yeats' "The Second Coming:"
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches toward Bethlehem to be born?