Daniel Corby

Patricia Corby Pleads Guilty to Murder of Autistic Son


Yesterday, Patricia Corby pleaded guilty to second-degree murder for drowning her four-year-old autistic son Daniel. She was crying so hard that it was hard for her to speak to enter the plea.

She killed Daniel last March, apparently because of his autism:

District Attorney's Office Investigator Walter Escobar testified that Corby told him her son—diagnosed with a high likelihood for autism—had made strides in his battle with the developmental disorder but not enough to satisfy her.

Corby, who cared for her son at home, felt she had no time to do anything, Escobar testified.

“She felt like her whole existence was dedicated to her child,” Escobar testified. “She felt like she had no life. She wanted Daniel to be normal.”

Escobar testified that Corby told him that after she killed her son, she tried to drown herself but couldn't, realized what she did wrong and drove to the police substation four miles away to turn herself in.

A police officer tried to resuscitate the child, but paramedics pronounced him dead at the scene.

The victim's father, who was at work at the time of his son's death, testified that he and his wife amassed $70,000 in debt getting their son numerous types of treatment.

Corby faces a mandatory sentence of at least 15 years. She will be sentenced on January 28.


Woman Who Confessed to Drowning Autistic Son Will Stand Trial

Remember Daniel Corby


In March, Patricia Corby confessed to drowning her four-year-old autistic son Daniel. Yesterday in San Diego, Judge Michael Smyth determined that there was enough evidence for her to stand trial for his murder. 

According to prosecutor Walter Escobar, Daniel's autism was the reason his mother killed him:

Corby, who cared for her son at home, felt she had no time to do anything, Escobar testified.

"She felt like her whole existence was dedicated to her child,'' Escobar testified. "She felt like she had no life. She wanted Daniel to be normal.''

Escobar testified that Corby told him that after she killed her son, she tried to drown herself but couldn't.

Her husband Duane testified that they were $70,000 in debt because of treatment that they got for their son.  Both he and Daniel's teacher said that the boy was making progress.

Click here to watch a news video with footage from the hearing.

Remembering Daniel Corby, Who Died Less Than One Month Ago

Remember Daniel Corby.

It was less than a month ago, on March 31, 2012, that Patricia Corby was arrested by San Diego police.  When she was arraigned, prosecutors said that she had told the officers that she had drowned her four-year-old autistic son Daniel.  This is the reason she gave:

In an interview that day, she told police that the boy was autistic and that she didn’t believe he would have a life or a future without her, so she decided to kill him, the prosecutor said.

I have previously shared reactions to Daniel's death here, here, and here.  Two more today.

Jess Wilson reposted her 2010 response to the deaths of Saiqa Akhter's children Faryaal and Zainmay at The Huffington Post:

There are no words to describe the horror of what this woman did to her precious babies.

There are no words to adequately condemn the murder of two innocent souls.

There are no words to contain the grief that we feel for those beautiful children.

There are words, however for what we can do for one another as a community of those who care for children, particularly those who do not fall into the category of the "normal children" that this woman thought she wanted.

We can support one another. We can show those who don't see the beauty that accompanies the challenges that there is joy in this life. That there is sweetness and faith and celebration and grace in raising a child -- or children -- with autism.


At the Autistic Self Advocacy Network, Zoe Gross wrote about "Killing Words":

Let me present to  you a sequence of events.

If you wrote an article about George Hodgins’ murder, or if you gave a quote for one, or if you covered it on television, or if you blogged about it, or if you commented on it,


if you said that no one should “judge” the murder as wrong,

if you said that Elizabeth Hodgins was “driven to murder” by George’s autism or by “lack of services,”

if you called the murder “understandable,”

if you said “it wasn’t a murder, it was a mercy killing,”

if you said “all parents of special-needs children have felt this way,”

please take a minute to wonder if Patricia Corby heard you.


Lawyer for Woman Accused of Drowning Autistic Son Requests Postponement

Patricia Corby, accused by prosecutors of holding her autistic four-year-old son Daniel under five or six inches of water until he died, appeared in court this morning for a review of her $10 million bail:

At the hearing Tuesday, Corby’s attorney waived the bail review and asked for a postponement of her preliminary hearing.


Parents React to the Death of Daniel Corby

Remember Daniel Corby

Responses from two mothers to the death of Daniel Corby.

Jennifer Sheridan wrote this on the thAutcast Faceboook page:

I think this issue may be three-fold. This is the kind of "awareness" I think we desperately need.

First, for the media, parents, caregivers and other members of the general public that left comments like, “although I don’t condone this murder she must have been at the end of her rope, it’s very hard to care for a child with Autism” we need to stop this kind thinking and fast. There is never justification for hurting or killing a person with disabilities, ever. NEVER. We need to make sure we do everything we can to change the view of some that there are acceptable or explainable reasons for killing an Autistic child or Adult, because there are NONE. We should all have expressed grief and horror that anyone would kill their child, period.

Secondly, we need to find a way to make sure that all available resources and hotlines for the prevention of child abuse and suicide are right in front of the public’s eyes, so that people can stop themselves from harming their children or themselves. I see this as the most expedient way to protect the most vulnerable among us, especially young children and those with disabilities. We need to find a way to stop people who, for whatever reason, are teetering on the ledge; we need to talk them down. We may not be able to save people who are so depressed or lost that they take their own lives, but we have to try, and we must absolutely and without question stop them from taking someone else’s. We need to convince people to get help or get out.

Thirdly, and this is just a hypothesis, it is possible that Daniel Corby’s mother and George Hodgins’ mother felt, in some twisted, sick way, that they were “protecting” their children. It has been reported that Daniel Corby’s mother attempted suicide. In George Hodgins’ case, his mother did commit suicide. It is possible that neither wanted to kill their children because they felt overcome by their children’s disability, but for other unknown reasons they were desperately without hope and were suicidal. In Daniel Corby’s mother’s case, the District Attorney has said that she told them that her son “did not have a life or a future without her”, and because she thought she would be successful in her own suicidal drowning she killed him first. This could be an offshoot of the fear many parents have, that we are terrified that when we die we do not know who will care for our children. But stable, healthy people don’t kill their children in anticipation of their own death; that’s absurd -- this is not “protecting” them. This is doing the ultimate harm, with children and adults with disabilities paying the ultimate price. We must get the message out that this is the worst thing a parent could do -- the absolute *worst* thing they could do to their child, and no one deserves to die in the name of “love and protection”. No one, it’s sick and it’s wrong.

Like I said at the beginning of this comment, this is the kind of "awareness" I believe we need. And I am very hopeful that Daniel Corby's mother is prosecuted to the full extent of the law, because for whatever reasons she had, she drowned her son. I wish to God she hadn't.


Ariane Zurcher begins her piece at The Huffington Post with a list of autistic people murdered by their parents and ends it like this:

Because of the Internet, we all have a support system if we want it. No parent or autist need feel alone. The autists are the ones who can and will change the current perception of what it means to be autistic. They are writing and speaking forcefully, beautifully, with eloquence and power. I have said this before, I will say it again: We must listen to them. They need to be included in any discussion, organization and conference regarding autism. More importantly, they need to be included, period. Some parents have said to me, "but they have blogs." They can talk. They are articulate. My response is, yes, that is exactly why we must listen. Just because some of our children cannot speak or those who do may not be as articulate doesn't take away from the fact that these autists can and do. If our children could speak as eloquently, how do we know what they would say? If they could speak, wouldn't we listen?

It's an honor to be in the list of blogs she includes.


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