Thursday, August 31, 2006


I didn’t think I was going to write about this one, but it has been weighing on my mind. Another autistic child is dead.

The Cincinnati Enquirer reported that three-year old Marcus Fiesel was left alone in a locked closet, without food and water, while his foster parents, Liz and David Carroll went to two-day family reunion. When they returned, Marcus was dead. Some reunion.

The Carrolls spent the next two weeks telling authorities, the media, and anyone else that would listen that Marcus wandered off from a park after Liz Carroll fainted. In fact, according to the police, David Carroll took Marcus’ body to the ruins of an old house in the next county, burned the body in the brick chimney of the ruins, and then dumped the remains into the Ohio River.

Predictably, some bloggers are trying to relate this crime to the issues of acceptance of autism and autistics (please note that I used the plural of “issues” as I think accepting autistics is not the same as accepting autism, but that’s another topic). And I agree with that assessment to an extent. Obviously, the Carrolls did not accept Marcus as a valuable human being, but it was the Carrolls, themselves, who were less than human. Their obscene lack of humanity led to this crime.

What I can’t agree with is that their lack of acceptance necessarily had anything to do with videos by Autism Speaks, actions by pro-cure groups, or anything that has been said in the many debates that occur on a regular basis within the greater autism community. There is no indication that the Carrolls paid any attention to any of that. There is no indication that the Carrolls have any interest in autism at all. It is quite likely that the only thing Liz and David Carroll were interested in was the $1,000 monthly stipend they got from the state to “care” for Marcus. One can only speculate that the “care” was none too good.

Frankly, I am not too concerned what motivated these two wastes of DNA. All I care about is their taking the life of an innocent and defenseless child. No motive in the world can justify their acts.

The Carrolls have been charged with involuntary manslaughter and abuse of a corpse, pending the outcome of grand jury proceedings. Given the lack of evidence concerning what the law call “specific intent,” those charges seem technically correct, and yet it isn’t enough. Prison terms of 23 years are not enough. I’ll leave the punishment due the Carrolls to wiser souls, but I think it’s appropriate calling this crime what it was: not manslaughter, but murder.


Blogger Wade Rankin said...

It is always interesting to see how I can be misquoted. In commenting on this incident, one blogger has linked to this post within the following passage:

Yet those who are against the neurodiversity movement are quick to jump on Kev and abfh for even mentioning that Marcus was autistic. They say that it is abusing the child’s memory to suit their own gains, to further the agenda of the neurodiverse.

I considered it necessary to respond to the mischaracterization resulting from her placing my link in that post. Because I don't feel like registering with that blog in order to leave a comment (an intrusive procedure that I don't believe is necessary), I decided to respond here.

I thought I made it pretty clear in my post that I agreed that Marcus was murdered in part because he was autistic and that the scum who were chosen by the state to shelter him did not accept him as a worthy human being.

I disagree with the notion that the murder was motivated by any particular part of the ongoing debate within the greater autism community. None of us really knows, but I tend to doubt that the Carrolls were at all aware of that debate, and Marcus probably represented nothing more to them than a stipend.

In any event, I never singled out any particular blogger, and I certainly didn't accuse anyone in my post of "abusing the child's memory to suit their own gains [or] to further the agenda of the neurodiverse."

Although I always appreciate a link, even from those who may disagree with me, I would prefer not to have words or ideas attributed to me that I am not responsible for.

9/1/06, 10:38 PM  
Blogger kristina said...

In some other world I might only blog about Charlie and his efforts to learn, about swimming in the ocean and long bike rides with his dad.

That's not the world we live in----rather, we're in a world where cheques in the mail apparently mean the most.

I should also note that a reader commented here on Autism Vox) that Marcus' actual diagnosis was Fetal Alcohol Syndrome.

9/2/06, 3:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wade: Whatever happened to "Using the word “murder” displays an inclination to prejudge the mother’s guilt, which I can understand to some extent given my admitted tendency to do the same." ?

I would say that the cases aren't disimilar in regards to what was done and how it was done, besides the fact that in one case the mom was biological.

You might be right that Autism Every Day did not influence these people in the least. They could have easily been unaware of it. But the fact remains, Autism Every Day is a video that is out there that makes it just a little bit more acceptable to think about murdering autistic kids. That's not a good thing.

9/2/06, 8:12 PM  
Blogger Wade Rankin said...


It has nothing to do with being a biological parent. The fact is that we know Karen McCarron will rely on an insanity defense. I think I've made it clear in the past that I don't think much of that defense, based on what the press has told us. Nevertheless, until we know whether the evidence will support a finding amounting to psychosis remains to be seen. That a husband and wife can both be psychotic defies any form of logic, particularly given their efforts to hide the crime. An insanity plea is simply not a viable option in their case.

Therefore, there can be no doubt of criminal culpability. The only question is: what crime? Given the lack of evidence on "specific intent," involuntary manslaughter may be the proper charge, but my heart says "murder."

I'm sorry if you find that to be inconsistent, but I will also say this about the McCarron case. If the evidence does not establish a McNaughton defense by the appropriate standard of proof (and I certainly think Dr. McCarron has a tough sell on that one), I'll be disappointed if the jury does returns a verdict of anything less than murder.

9/2/06, 10:02 PM  
Blogger Randy said...

I suspect that a case could be made for a murder charge against the Carrolls based on the old "depraved heart" definition of malice aforethought. Leaving a child in a locked closet for two days with no food and water is an act that a reasonable person should know would lead to death or great bodily harm. Were I the prosecutor, I probably would have sought a murder indictment. The act goes beyond mere negligence.

9/4/06, 9:06 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Joseph said:
"But the fact remains, Autism Every Day is a video that is out there that makes it just a little bit more acceptable to think about murdering autistic kids. That's not a good thing."

What kind of sick dreams do you have, joe? When i saw the Autism Every Day video, I thought "finally, now we have a high profile telling of the difficulties families face with autism." As these children grow into adulthood... society is going to be straining to afford for their care. To me, that doesn't say "gee, let's kill them now and avoid the expense and heartache!" It says "let's get to the root of the problem NOW... and for those we can't 'recover,' let's prepare for their needs."

I think that's the whole message, if not said in those words. But the anti-cure crowd wants it to be about the possibility of more murders and the lack of acceptance... twisting the intent of that video into some kind of negligence. You wanna talk about 'not a good thing'...there you have it.

I don't see the video as a bleeding heart "poor us" kind of thing... it's a call to action for the rest of the country to take an interest in the biggest health concern facing this country.


9/4/06, 9:39 PM  
Blogger lee said...

Two wastes of DNA - that is spot on.This kind of thing is appalling - can you just imagine what the child went through. It kills you to think of it :( .

9/5/06, 7:10 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kevin Leitch will always exploit these children to futher his agenda.

9/5/06, 9:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

9/6/06, 6:52 AM  
Blogger Wade Rankin said...

I have deleted one anonymous comment because I would prefer to keep away from personal attacks, even those directed at people with whom I may disagree.

9/6/06, 9:23 AM  
Blogger ballastexistenz said...


An interview with one of the creators of that film said that most mothers harbored such thoughts deep down inside and would see them if they took a sufficiently hard look at themselves. And that this was included partially for the purpose of normalizing such thoughts.

My own mother was so disturbed by this interview that she wrote to me to let me know that she had never even once had that thought cross her mind and that she wanted me to know that. She has emailed me several times since to make sure I know that I'm wanted, even though it never crossed my mind that she'd have thought anything like that in the first place. That interview made her afraid that I might think it was actually true.

I don't think it's Joseph who has "sick dreams" that need worrying about here, it's the people who have those thoughts and wish to make those thoughts a little more legitimate, even considered such a natural part of parenting an autistic child that our own parents are now thinking they have to reassure us that they never thought such things.

9/7/06, 9:26 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you require to get involved with troubled kids in the foster care system, study Invisible Kids first. ( The heartrending reports and the interventions Holly Schlaack recounts will give private citizens the impulse they need to volunteer as a CASA or to go for further training. Professionals who are involved with children will realize many of their own experiences in the positions Holly depicts. Her creative, positive, hopeful 12 recommendations will give professionals and private citizens practical encouragement to heighten their own work and join in to help these little children who have seen firsthand the worst of the adults they had a right to rely upon.

1/18/09, 11:27 PM  

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