Man Finds Out Wife Is Leaving, Kills Himself and 5 Kids

Illustration for article titled Man Finds Out Wife Is Leaving, Kills Himself and 5 Kids

After a Washington man discovered his wife was cheating on him, he returned home and shot his five children, ages 7 to 16, before committing suicide.


On Friday night, James Harrison and his eldest daughter went looking for her mother, Angela. By tracking her through a GPS feature in her phone they found her with another man at a nearby convenience store, reports CBS News. Angela said she wasn't coming home and was leaving for the other man. The father and daughter got upset and returned to their mobile home in Graham, Washington.

After the children went to sleep, Harrison entered their bedrooms and shot them multiple times. Four died in their beds and one died in the bathroom after a struggle. "He wanted the kids dead," said Ed Troyer, spokesman for the Pierce County Sheriff. "It wasn't like he shot a few rounds. He shot several rounds."

He then returned to the area near the convenience store and shot himself with a rifle in his car. "We think he was going to go back to kill the wife," Troyer said. "He probably didn't find her and realized the gravity of what he'd done and shot himself."

The mother's aunt, Candy Johnson, said that Harrison was strict and controlling and didn't let Angela make decisions without asking him first. She added that Harrison impregnated Angela when she was 13. "My niece has been so controlled from the time she was young," she said.

Harrison was put on a parenting plan by child welfare officials in 2007 after a "minor assault" on one of the children. Ron Vorak, who lived across the street from the family, said, "He was always hollering at the kids. He seemed to be strict with them," according to the Associated Press.

The oldest daughter, Maxine, was in 10th grade at Orting High School. Jamie was in eighth grad and her sister Samatha was in sixth grade at Orting Middle School. Heather and James were in the second grade at Orting Primary school. "We're going to try to get through this the best we can given the circumstances," said Jeff Davis, Orting School District superintendent. "In a small community like this, we know these kids. Teachers know the kids. All the kids know the kids."


The children's mother was informed of the shootings and is being counseled by a chaplain.

Man Killed 5 Kids Because Wife Was Leaving [CBS News]
Police: Dad Killed 5 Kids Because Wife Was Leaving [AP]




This is not a defense of this guy killing his kids and shooting himself.

That being said, I want to point out a possibility (emphasis on the word: Possibility), connected through a reality. The reality is that in a divorce, women get the lionshare of resources, as well as custody. So, speaking generally, I think the reason why we're seeing an uptick in fathers killing their families on learning of an impending breakup with their wives is because, for the most part, their lives are over anyway. They're losing their wife, their house, their car, their kids, the only thing thy'll have left is their job, which they probably hate anyway and only kept because it was a tool to support their family... the one they don't get to keep anymore.

Clearly murdering your family isn't exactly the greatest idea in the world. Nor is it ever, ever the right answer to your problems, no matter what your circumstance. I think it'se interesting, however, to examine possible reasons why these things seem to be happening more often, firstly, and secondly to ask why it seems to be mostly men.