Romero house. Photo: APAn 8-year-old Arizona boy who confessed to shooting his father and a man boarding in their home last week has mystified everyone who knows him, according to reports. The boy used a .22 calibre rifle (his father had recently bought him for hunting) and shot each victim at least four times, methodically stopping and reloading as he killed them. The case is extremely rare, says one criminologist. From 1976 to 2005 there were 62 cases in the US in which a 7- or 8-year-old was arrested on murder charges, FBI data shows, but only two of those cases involved a child killing a parent.

So far there is no evidence of sexual or other physical abuse, which might explain the boy’s behaviour. He told the police he had been spanked the night before because he was having trouble at school, but did not give that as the reason for the shootings. He does not seem to have had disciplinary problems at school or appeared troubled. His parish religion teacher, a nun, who has known him since he was a baby, said he took his Catholic faith “very seriously”. His friends said he was “normal”.

But his family circumstances were not ideal. His mother, Erin Bloomfield, 26, and father, Vincent Romero, 29, divorced six years ago. Mr Romero recently remarried and had custody of his son. Ms Bloomfield told the New York Times she spoke on the phone with the boy every week and visited him once a month. He was a “normal boy” who played video games non-stop and doted on his new dog. But in recent months he had grown more distant with her — possibly because his step-mother was monitoring his conversations. He had told Ms Bloomfield that his father and step-mother quarrelled often.

Ms Bloomfield also said her son was close to his father, and that the two regularly played softball and basketball, and went hiking and hunting together, sometimes joined by the other man who was killed, Timothy Romans, 39. Mr Romans worked in construction with Mr Romero and rented a room in the family house.
Prosecutors have charged the boy as an adult, but it is not certain that he will be prosecuted as one. He is in custody and undergoing psychological assessment. ~ New York Times, Nov 11, 13 

 

Carolyn Moynihan

Carolyn Moynihan is the former deputy editor of MercatorNet