Jordan Brown: In 2008, Jordan Brown’s father bought him a shotgun for Christmas. Two months later, he used it to murder his stepmother.
Bryan & David Freeman: Bryan and David were skinhead, Nazi White Supremacists. Their parents were devout Christians. Something had to give.
Mary Bell: Someone is killing the children of Scotswood. Who could have guessed that the murderous strangler was a ten-year-old girl?
Roderrick Ferrell: Rod Ferrell claimed to be a 500-year-old vampire. The bloody murders he committed were certainly worthy of such a creature.
Sean Sellers: Abused as a child, Sellars took a horrific revenge on his mother and stepfather. But should a 16-year-old killer really end up on Death Row?
Graham Young: An introverted kid with an interest in poisons decides to try out his concoctions – on his own family.
Erin Caffey: Erin’s Bible-punching parents didn’t approve of her boyfriend. Her solution? Kill them in their sleep.
Click the "Read More" link below to read the first chapter of
Killer Kids Volume 3
To anyone looking in from the outside, Daniel Bartlam seemed like a normal kid, just your average teenager. The 14-year-old attended Dagfa School in Nottingham, England; he lived with his mother and brother in the Redhill suburb of that city; he was polite and friendly to neighbors; he loved Star Wars and Dr. Who and video games. Scratch below the surface, though, and an entirely different picture emerges, one that should have set alarm bells jangling.
Let’s start with the horror stories. Daniel was a budding author. He’d spend hours in his bedroom composing his bizarre tales of murder and mayhem. Quite often they involved a boy who is bullied by his peers and eventually returns to claim a bloody revenge. He’d proudly show these stories to his mother, Jacqui, and to her boyfriend, Simon. They, quite understandably, were disturbed by these macabre scribblings. However, when Jacqui pressed him about why he’d want to write such horrific stories, Daniel simply shrugged and retreated to his room. Unbeknownst to his mother, he hadn’t shared with her his most violent work. That would only come to light later.
But Daniel’s bloody literary creations were only the tip of a very large, very dangerous iceberg. In the months after the family had moved to Redhill from another part of the city, Jacqui had noticed that items of her underwear were going missing. These would later turn up in Daniel’s room, hidden in a plastic bag in the back of a closet. Jacqui’s boyfriend, Simon, was worried by this behavior and suggested that perhaps the boy should see a therapist. But Jacqui laughed it off, saying that Daniel had just been playing a prank.
She wasn’t quite as flippant over the next development, though. For years, Daniel had lovingly collected Star Wars and Dr. Who figurines. Now Jacqui found those in a box in his room, smashed to pieces with a hammer. Not only that but the box gave off an acrid reek, and it was evident that Daniel had been urinating into it. Jacqui would later discover that he’d also been defecating in his room.
All of this spoke of a deeply disturbed young man. And there was another reason to worry about young Daniel’s state of mind. He’d become obsessed with a storyline in the long-running British soap opera, Coronation Street. In it, a character named John Stape bludgeons a woman to death with a hammer. Shortly afterwards, Daniel began doing internet searches with search strings like “how to get away with murder” and “people who get away with murder.” He also began to work on his latest literary creation, a soap opera in which a character named Daniel Bartlam beats his mother to death with a hammer.
In the early morning hours of Monday, April 25, 2011, police in Nottingham received a frantic emergency call from a young boy who said that his mother had been attacked by an intruder. They arrived to find Daniel Bartlam and his younger brother shivering on the sidewalk, together with the family dog. Smoke was billowing from an upstairs window and the fire service was therefore called and the blaze quickly extinguished. Fortunately, it had not taken hold of the house. It had, however, burned the sole occupant of the master bedroom beyond recognition. This, investigators assumed, was Jacqui Bartlam, and dental records would later confirm that.
According to Daniel, an intruder had entered the house in the dead of night and had attacked his mother. He had heard the sounds of the attack but had been afraid to leave his room until he smelled smoke. Then he’d run to rouse his brother and had fled, stopping just long enough to dial 999. He hadn’t seen the intruder at any time and assumed that the man had run away immediately after starting the fire.
It seemed, on the surface, a viable story. And at least some of the details were verified by the autopsy. Jacqui Bartlam had indeed been attacked. In fact, she’d been beaten to death with a claw hammer, suffering at least seven blows to the head, delivered with such ferocity that they had shattered her skull. Her killer had then wrapped her in newspaper before dousing the room in gasoline and then starting a fire, most probably with the intention of destroying evidence.
But who would have done such a thing? Almost from the outset, the police suspected that Daniel wasn’t telling the whole truth. Then, as they examined his computer, they found evidence of the internet searches he’d done, as well as his Coronation Street inspired murder story. He’d tried to delete that document but a computer expert was able to recover it.
Faced with this evidence, as well as inconsistencies in his story, Daniel Bartlam eventually cracked and admitted the awful truth. It was he who had beaten his mother to death, he who had set her body alight. He claimed, however, that it had happened during an argument and had not been premeditated. His mother had been abusive and neglectful to him, he said, and his resentment towards her had grown over time.
That was still the story that Daniel was telling when he was brought to trial at Nottingham Crown Court early in 2012. But the evidence said different. Several witnesses testified that Jacqueline Bartlam had been a kind and loving person and a good mother. She’d absolutely doted on her boys and would have done absolutely anything for them. Conversely, there was no evidence that Daniel or his brother had ever been abused and the younger boy confirmed this.
Daniel’s account of an argument turned violent also did not hold up. His demeanor afterwards, rescuing his brother and the family dog from the burning house; the way he’d calmly lied to the police; his internet searches and violent first person stories. Each of these told a story of a troubled young man who had been planning the attack for some time.
But what motive could the youngster possibly have had? If his mother genuinely had been the outstanding parent that friends and relatives claimed, why would Daniel have attacked her so violently?
Experts called at the trial offered a chilling answer. They testified that Daniel’s bizarre behavior in the run-up to the murder is indicative of someone who has retreated into a violent fantasy world. Fueled by horror movies and shoot-em-up video games, these fantasies had eventually become so pervasive that Daniel had begun to blur the lines between what is real and what is not. The turning point had been the Coronation Street murder sub-plot. It was after viewing those episodes that he’d begun actively searching online for information about getting away with murder. It also emerged during the trial that Daniel had received counseling in the months leading up to the murder and that he had confided in the counselor that he sometimes heard voices telling him to kill.
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