; Phantoms and Monsters: Pulse of the Paranormal

Monday, October 29, 2012

Monsters Of Our Species 5: Juvenile Killers

There have been murderers throughout human history...many are easily recognized by their name or moniker. In this fifth installment, I have posted information on a few juvenile human monsters who may not be easily recognized:


It was November 3rd, 1998, when 8-year-old Maddie Clifton went missing in Jacksonville, Florida. When she was reported missing, police began searching for her, and they started interviewing the neighbours. Almost immediately, they had a neighbour in mind as a suspect. That neighbour had been arrested and charged more than 15 years earlier in two sexual battery cases; though both times the charges against him were dropped.

As it turned out, their suspect was the wrong man, but her murderer was indeed a neighbour. Hundreds of people would volunteer in the search for Maddie, scouring the woods and dumpsters around the neighbourhood. The search for Maddie would end a week after she first disappeared, but it wasn't searchers who found her body. It was Melissa Phillips, 14-year-old Joshua Phillips mother, who found her. Thinking that her son's waterbed appeared to be leaking, she went to inspect it, and found Maddie Clifton's corpse hidden underneath. She ran out the house, and immediately went to the police.

Joshua Earl Patrick Phillips, at age 15, was charged with first degree murder in the death of his 8-year-old neighbour and playmate, Madelyn Clifton. He was charged as an adult.

His trial was moved to a different county due to the flood on media coverage in the Jacksonville area. He was convicted of the first degree murder, and sentenced to life in prison without chance of parole. He was not eligible for the death penalty in Florida, because he was under the age of 16 at the time of the crime.


On 29 January 1979, 16-year-old Brenda Ann Spencer opened fire on children arriving at Cleveland Elementary School in San Diego from her house across the street, killing two men and wounding eight students and a police officer. Principal Burton Wragg was attempting to rescue children in the line of fire when he was shot and killed, and custodian Mike Suchar was slain attempting to aid Wragg.Spencer used a rifle her father had given her as a gift. As to what impelled her into this form of murderous madness, she told a reporter, ”I don’t like Mondays. This livens up the day.”
The “Mondays” comment was not the only eyebrow-raising declaration to issue from Spencer that day. According to a report written by the police negotiators who spoke with her during the six-hour standoff, she made such comments to them as ”There was no reason for it, and it was just a lot of fun”; ”It was just like shooting ducks in a pond”; and ”[the children ] looked like a herd of cows standing around, it was really easy pickings.”

That Spencer failed to kill any of the children she shot at was attributable to luck rather than any reluctance on her part to take their lives. The bullet that struck 9-year-old Charles “Cam” Miller missed his heart by about an inch.

Spencer pled guilty to two counts of murder and assault with a deadly weapon and was sentenced to 25 years to life in prison. At her first parole hearing she expressed doubt that any of the victims were hit by bullets from her rifle and contended they might have been shot by police. She also claimed to have been under the influence of alcohol and hallucinogenic drugs at the time of the shootings and asserted prosecutors and her attorney had conspired to fabricate test evidence showing there had been no drugs in her system. By her third parole hearing she was admitting guilt and expressing remorse but was still contending she had been drunk and high on marijuana laced with PCP the day of her deadly rampage. She also claimed something new, that she had been beaten and sexually abused by her father, an avowal conspicuously absent from previous records.

Those who continue to be troubled by the callousness of Brenda Spencer’s crime and concerned by her continued attempts to shift blame for her actions onto anyone or anything else can draw comfort from the knowledge that murderers are rarely granted parole in California.


Young Jesse Pomeroy grew up in one of the worst slums of South Boston in the late 1800's. By the time he turned 14 years of age, he was convicted of numerous murders, and was one of the worst multiple killers in the country's history, sentenced to spend the rest of his life in prison.

Brought up by his widowed mother, a dressmaker, Pomeroy was not an easy child to miss in the area. He had a harelip and one of his eyes was completely white. And, according to one source, he also suffered from light mental retardation.

Not much is known of his early childhood, but by the time he reached 11 years of age, he began torturing other young children.

In the two years of 1871 and 1872, Pomeroy trapped and attacked seven boys, all younger than himself. In each case he took each one to a secluded space where he stripped the victim and tied him up.

The first victims were severely beaten, punched and kicked until covered with bruises. However, Pomeroy then began utilizing his knife in the attacks, slashing and poking with the blade, drawing blood as his victim was tied down.

Because of his appearance, it wasn't long before the police got an idea about who the culprit was, and they proceeded to arrest the twelve year old where he was sentenced to the West Borough Reform School where he was to be held until the age of 21.

Instead of the nine year sentence however, Pomeroy was let go after just two years. While serving his term, he stayed on his best behavior and led the ward officials into thinking that he was indeed reformed. He understood very well what he had to do to get out of there as soon as possible, and he made sure he stuck to his plan. This is a great example of how the idea of "revolving door" imprisonment has been around a lot longer than people believe.

When Jesse was released, he was far from "well". As a matter of fact, Pomeroy was now ready to take his crimes to a new level. He was ready for homicide.

In March of 1874, ten year old Mary Curran disappeared, her body found mutilated and savagely beaten. A month later four year old Horace Mullen was taken by Pomeroy to marshland outside of town, where the child was slashed repeatedly. Police found the body, with the head almost decapitated, the next day.

Police began investigating the murder, and quickly saw Pomeroy as a potential suspect. When they approached the young boy, they found him carrying a bloodstained knife. They also noted that his shoes were covered in mud, and his footprints matched those of the murder scene. When they asked him if he killed the boy, Jesse replied almost matter of factly, "I suppose I did."

When Pomeroy's mother moved out of her house soon after, laborers working on the flooring found the decomposing remains of Mary Curran buried in the basement's earthen floor. Pomeroy easily confessed to that murder as well.

As if that wasn't enough for the police, Pomeroy then confessed to the murder of 27 other victims. When officers began to dig around the home where he grew up, they discovered the remains of twelve other bodies.

Found guilty of murder, Pomeroy was sentenced to spend the rest of his days in prison, where he languished in solitary confinement until he died in 1932 at the ripe old age of 72.


Eric M. Smith (born January 22, 1980) is an American criminal, incarcerated for the murder, sexual abuse and mutilation of four-year-old Derrick Robie (born October 2, 1988) on August 2, 1993, in Steuben County, New York.

According to court documents, Smith, a loner, was often tormented by bullies for his protruding low-set ears, thick glasses, red hair and freckles. The murder case made national headlines, largely due to the young ages of the killer (13 years) and of the victim (4 years).

Smith attracted Robie to a remote location in a park. There Smith strangled Robie, dropped a pair of large rocks on the boy’s head, undressed his body, and sodomized him with a tree limb. The cause of death was determined to be blunt trauma to the head with contributing asphyxia.

Two days after Robie's funeral, Smith admitted to Robie's killing. In 1994 Smith was convicted of second-degree murder and sentenced to the maximum term then available for juvenile murderers — a minimum of nine years to life in prison.

While in jail, Smith wrote an apology letter to Robie's family; he read it on public television: "I know my actions have caused a terrible loss in the Robie family, and for that, I am truly sorry. I've tried to think as much as possible about what Derrick will never experience: his 16th birthday, Christmas, anytime, owning his own house, graduating, going to college, getting married, his first child. If I could go back in time, I would switch places with Derrick and endure all the pain I've caused him. If it meant that he would go on living, I'd switch places, but I can't." At the end of this statement, Smith states that he cannot bear the thought of "walls, razor wire, and steel metal bars" for the rest of his life.

Smith has been denied parole five times since 2002, most recently in April 2010. He was next eligible for parole in April 2012. If granted parole, Smith stated an intent to return to Savona. He was held in a juvenile facility for six years. In 2001, he was transferred to the Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora, New York, a maximum security prison. As of October 23, 2012, the NYS Dep't of Corrections website shows him incarcerated at Mt. McGregor Correctional Facility, a medium security prison for male inmates in Saratoga County, New York, USA.

Children Who Kill: Profiles of Pre-teen and Teenage Killers (2003)

Chilling Cold Blooded Killer Kids

How to Make a Serial Killer: The Twisted Development of Innocent Children into the World's Most Sadistic Murderers


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