Daniel Corby was an autistic boy, murdered by his mother at age 4. The murder occurred on March 31 2012, 25 days after the murder of George Hodgins. Daniel lived in San Diego, California.
Daniel's mother drew him a bath on March 31 and drowned him. She then wrapped him in a blanket, put him in the backseat, and drove to a police station. He was not breathing and medics were unable to save him.
Media coverage noted how it was "overwhelming" it was for the mother to care for Daniel, the fact that she was debt (which was attributed to his care), and that she was stressed about caring for him. News websites sympathized with the murderer slightly less than usual, the Daily Mail noting how Daniel had "always seemed happy."
Some media noted that he was not low-functioning and did not deserve to be murdered. CBS reported that he "was not severely autistic," and that his aunt "said Daniel was probably looking down from heaven asking, "Mama, why did you kill me, when I was doing so well?""
Autistic and Ally Responses
First, for the media, parents, caregivers and other members of the general public that left comments like, “although I don’t condone this murder she must have been at the end of her rope, it’s very hard to care for a child with Autism” we need to stop this kind thinking and fast. There is never justification for hurting or killing a person with disabilities, ever. NEVER. — Jennifer Sheridan
Patricia Corby was sentence to 15 years to life in prison for the murder after pleading guilty. She received no sympathy from family members when the decision was handed down.
Potential Link to Hodgins Murder
Zoe Gross of the Autistic Self Advocacy Network noticed that Daniel Corby was murdered in the same month as George Hodgins (also killed by his mother). Media coverage of Hodgins' murder was sympathetic towards the murderer, again citing how difficult it was to take care of the autistic child and humanizing the mother.
"Let me present to you a sequence of events.
If you wrote an article about George Hodgins’ murder, or if you gave a quote for one, or if you covered it on television, or if you blogged about it, or if you commented on it,
if you said that no one should “judge” the murder as wrong,
if you said that Elizabeth Hodgins was “driven to murder” by George’s autism or by “lack of services,”
if you called the murder “understandable,”
if you said “it wasn’t a murder, it was a mercy killing,”
if you said “all parents of special-needs children have felt this way,”
please take a minute to wonder if Patricia Corby heard you."
- Daily Mail: Mother admits she drowned autistic son, 4, in bathtub because 'she was sick of taking care of him' and was $70,000 in debt after paying for his care (trigger warning)
- CBS News: Woman sentenced in tub drowning of autistic son, 4 (trigger warning)
- thAutcast: Parents React to the Death of Daniel Corby
- Huffington Post report on sentencing
- ASAN: Killing Words