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Family Annihilator

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"Family annihilator" is a term used to refer to someone who commits familicide, the act of killing one's own family, usually immediate members, but instances of the perpetrator targeting other relatives, such as in-laws, are not unheard of. Reasons for familicide vary, and can include:

  • Spite or revenge (for example, a former spouse killing their ex-partner and the children due to custody issues)
  • A twisted act of mercy
  • Mental illness or instability, such as severe depression caused by multiple real or imagined failures
  • Eliminating witnesses during a robbery

Out of all forms of mass murder, familicide is regarded as the most common, and often ends with the perpetrator (who is almost always male) committing suicide.

On Criminal Minds, the term family annihilator is applied to both those who commit familicide (such as Norman Hill) and to serial/rampage killers who specifically target families (such as Karl Arnold and Jeremy Sayer).

On Criminal Minds Edit

  • Karl Arnold ("The Fox"): A psychiatrist who targeted families he viewed as dysfunctional. Would stalk them for some time, then hold them captive while they were supposed to be on vacation, murdering them after a few days of acting as the head of the household and making it appear as a murder-suicide committed by the father (children and mothers were stabbed, while fathers were shot).
  • Cally's Tribe ("The Tribe"): A group of eight people, led by "The Grandfather", who killed their victims via various Native American rituals. Roy Minton and his family were killed in their second massacre, as they viewed Roy as the opposing force in their mission.
  • Vincent Stiles ("Ashes and Dust"): A serial arsonist who targeted businessmen he envied, and who he saw as successful versions of himself. Killed them and their families with kerosene fires, usually after trapping them in their homes.
  • Gary and Ervin Robles ("Children of the Dark"): Team killers who were heavily abused by their foster family. Gary would kill the parents (whom he always saw as being abusive to their kids), usually via bludgeoning with an incidental object, while Ervin would "euthanize" the children (who were forced to witness the deaths of their parents) with a chemical injection so that they wouldn't have to be placed in foster homes and be abused by their foster parents.
  • Norman Hill ("Normal"): Hours after committing his first drive-by shooting, he, in a state of severe psychosis, murdered his wife and two teenaged daughters with a shotgun while they slept.
  • Miranda Jakar ("Outfoxed"): Committed a number of murders in several countries, and began specifically targeting the families (killing mothers and sons through shooting, and daughters through oxygen deprivation) of soldiers stationed overseas after fleeing to Virginia, where annual military maneuvers caused her to experience posttraumatic stress disorder-induced psychotic episodes.
  • John Vincent Bell ("The Fight"): It has been hinted, though not confirmed, that after murdering father-daughter duos, Bell would kill the mothers, whom he informed of his victims' abductions, in order to eliminate any loose ends. If this is true, this officially qualifies him as a family annihilator.
  • Jeremy Sayer ("Safe Haven"): After being abandoned by his mother over state lines, he killed two (nearly three) families while making his way back to her. The mothers were the objects of his rage, and he would force them to watch as he killed their children (via strangulation) and husband (via stabbing) before murdering them (via bludgeoning) as well. Some time prior to his killing spree, Jeremy also attempted to kill his own family by putting rat poison in their Thanksgiving turkey, but his mother prevented it.
  • Donald Sanderson ("25 to Life"): Was originally believed to be a family annihilator, due to being framed by James Stanworth and successfully convicted of the murder of his wife and daughter.
  • Ian Doyle ("Valhalla" and "Lauren"): The former leader of an offshoot of the IRA, after escaping imprisonment, he and his accomplices murdered those responsible for his incarceration in North Korea, as well as their families.
  • Trevor Mills ("A Thin Line"): Influenced by Clark Preston (who previously paid two African-American men to attack his family, killing his father and sister and leaving his mother in a near-vegetative state) to kill families living in Southern California's Inland Empire as means of promoting Preston's mayoral election campaign. He did this by shooting each family member execution-style and then pin the murders on a minority he drugged, brought along to the crime scene, and also killed.
  • Arthur Rykov ("Through the Looking Glass") - In his mission to show the worth of dysfunctional families, Arthur would abduct families of this example, expose their sins, and manipulate them into arguing with each other. His first familicide was successful in this way, and he attempted to do the same thing with a second family, but eventually failed to achieve this goal.
  • While training Jordan Todd, her temporary replacement, JJ presents her with two cases, one of them a familicide involving an on the run man who murdered his wife and twin daughters. Jordan correctly guesses that the family annihilator would have priority over the other case (a suspected serial killer) since the perpetrator may go on a spree, and go after more relatives and other innocent people. ("Memoriam")

Real World Edit


  • John List: Shot his mother, wife, two sons, and daughter to death, claiming to have done so because he wanted to spare them "the shame" of having to live with a man who failed to support them in his role as patriarch (List had been recently fired, and had incurring massive debt).
  • Ronald DeFeo, Jr.: Claiming that voices from inside the house told him to do it, he shot his father, mother, two brothers, and two sisters to death while they slept in their home, 112 Ocean Avenue, which later became infamous as the site of an apparent haunting dubbed "the Amityville Horror".
  • Dipendra of Nepal: Nepali prince, and the perpetrator of the Nepalese royal massacre, in which he murdered nine members of his family, and wounded five others, before attempting suicide by shooting himself in the head (dying three days later after falling into a coma).
  • Ronald Simmons: Spree killer who began his rampage by wiping out fourteen members of his family through various means around Christmas. The victims included his wife, eight children (one of them the result of an incestuous relationship with a daughter), three grandchildren, a daughter-in-law, and a son-in-law.
  • Ramon Salcido: Spree killer whose first six victims were members of his family: his wife, two of his three daughters, his mother-in-law, and two sister-in-laws. He also slashed the throat of his third daughter, but she survived.

Family Killers Edit

  • Dennis Rader, The BTK Killer: During Rader's first known murder, he killed the entire Otero family: the father, Joseph Otero, the mother, Julie, and their children, Joseph Jr. and Josephine. All of them were either strangled, suffocated or, as with the daughter, hanged. It should be noted that, when he killed Shirley Vian Relford, he tied up her children and put them in a bathroom to get them out of the way, even leaving a few toys and blankets inside for them to make it as comfortable for them as possible.
  • Leonard Lake and Charles Ng: In a way, Lake and Ng can be considered family annihilators as they would on occasion kill entire families, disposing of the men and children before raping, torturing and killing the women.
  • Yang Xinhai, The Monster Killer. A prolific Chinese serial killer and rapist whose spree lasted from 1999 to 2003. He almost always killed entire families, breaking into their homes in the middle of the night with an assortment of makeshift weapons, such as shovels and meat cleavers.
  • Anatoly Onoprienko, The Beast of Ukraine: A Ukrainian serial/spree killer who was convicted of killing 52 people, between 1989 and 1996. 43 of them were killed in the last six months of his rampage. He would target entire families or groups of people, kill everyone, including possible witnesses, with a variety of weapons, including a hunting rifle, a double-barrelled shotgun, an axe and a hammer.
  • John Linley Frazier, The Killer Prophet: Entered the home of eye surgeon Victor Ohta and killed him, his wife, children, and secretary with a .22 handgun in 1970. All victims were bound and blindfolded with colorful scarves from the house. Frazier then set the house on fire and left a rambling note on Ohta's car. He claimed his motivation for the massacre was that "voices from God" had told him to "seek vengeance on those who rape the environment".

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