Boy may have killed over spankings

FRIDAY, NOV. 28, 2008

Arizona 8-year-old charged in death of father, other man

An 8-year-old Arizona boy charged with double homicide may have kept a written record of spankings by his parents, vowing that the 1,000th would be his limit, according to a police records.

A search affidavit by Sgt. Lucas Rodriguez said the child “is believed to have made ledgers and or communicated in the form of writings about his intentions. (The boy) told a CPS (Arizona Child Protective Services) … worker that when he reached one thousand spankings … that would be his limit. (The boy) kept a tally of his spankings on a piece of paper.”

In a statement to police a day after the Nov. 5 killings, the boy said he had been spanked the day before the shootings because he did not complete a school assignment.

The juvenile is charged with shooting his father and a family friend, 39-year-old Timothy Romans, at the family’s home in St. Johns.

According to the police records, family members were not surprised when told one day after the slayings that the boy had confessed to murder.

St. Johns, Ariz., Police Chief Roy Melnick said in his report, “I comforted them as best we could. After several minutes, (the boy’s grandmother) shouted out in an angry and loud tone, ‘I knew this would happen. They were too hard on (the boy). I knew (he) did it. He spent the night in my bed cuddling up to me. I had a feeling he did it. If any 8-year-old boy is capable of doing this, it’s (him).’

“She then started to tell me something and then stopped herself. She took several deep breaths, wanting to tell me more but stopped herself.”

Melnick said the grandmother then said the boy’s stepmother suspected the child that night.

The search warrant records were contained in a police report made available by the Apache County attorney’s office.

The case file contains other revelations, including statements from friends that Romans and the boy’s father had been involved in disputes with co-workers at a nearby power plant, and with men at a local bar.

Records indicate the 8-year-old had no history of psychiatric care and was not on any medications.

The search warrant affidavit contains the first public disclosure that the child had been in contact with Child Protective Services workers. Such cases are confidential, and an Apache County Superior Court judge has imposed a gag order, so the timing and context of Rodriguez’s statement remains unclear.

The search warrant return does not appear to list any kind of spankings ledger among items recovered from the family residence. It does note that evidence includes a spelling worksheet with blood on it and a white sheet of paper labeled, “Story (boy’s first name) the Family.”

One day after the killings, the boy gave police a statement that they have characterized as a confession. In it, he provided various explanations for what had happened, finally declaring that he had shot his father and the other man twice each to stop their suffering after they had been wounded by an unknown person.

At the end of the interview, the boy curled into a fetal position and hid his face. When asked what he was thinking, he told investigators, “Going to juvie.”


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