Consider the striking parallels between two mothers, Tara Haigh and Casey Anthony, accused of murdering their own children. The parallels are so striking that I’m dumbfounded the press didn’t pick-up on them in their massive coverage of the recent Anthony trial. It just shows how media indulges in what sells, before moving on.
1. In 2008, the same year Anthony was arrested on suspicion of doing harm to her missing two-year old daughter, Caylee, over in England Tara Haigh was found guilty of murdering her three-year old son, Billie.
2. In each case, the alleged motif was killing to remove an impediment to having the good life. Within days of Anthony’s mother reporting Caylee missing to police, Anthony was busy pursuing the social scene, even participating in a hot shirt contest. Similarly, Haigh kept herself occupied responding to on-line messages from men on the site Girls Date Free within hours after Billie’s death.
3. In both cases, computers were seized and searched for evidence. Anthony lucked-out. She had a mother taking the hit .
4. Lying was central in both cases. Haigh told police Billie had suddenly stopped breathing. She posted a website message to one man that her boy had died from a tumor behind his ear. Anthony, of course, claimed Caylee had died accidentally in the family pool and that she panicked and hid the body in the woods with the help of the child’s father. While the Anthony jury chose to acquit her on the murder count because it lacked specific evidence, she was convicted of four counts of lying to investigating police. Given credit for serving three years and good conduct in jail while waiting trial, she has been released a year early and is now challenging the lying conviction.
5. What separates the cases is that British police had a body to work with. Medical examiners concluded Billie had been strangled. Caylee, on the other hand, had been buried hurriedly in the nearby woods six months previously. Her decomposed body revealed duct tape had been placed over her mouth and nose. Chloroform residue was found in the car trunk.
6. Haigh, though found guilty, was sentenced to a ten year minimal sentence, perhaps out of sympathy because of her 74 IQ and history of depression. Anthony is now free to pursue rumored TV talk show, movie, and book overtures. As I write, ABC News has reported it paid $200,000 to the Anthony family for exclusive video and photo rights in 2008. There are, of course, some in the media who consider the current social network rage as a “lynch mob mentality.” (See my recent post on the psychological dynamics behind the sympathy.)
It’s been said that the greatest sadness is to outlive one’s child. Regardless of the question of guilt or innocence, in these cases, we have mothers up-ending this widely held belief.