We’re getting some insight into the shocking murder in Howard County, where a teen-age girl and her boyfriend are charged with killing the girl’s father .
Dennis Lane, a local businessman and blogger, was found stabbed to death in his home this past Friday.
Charging documents filed by Howard County Police indicate that 19-year-old Jason Bulmer told detectives his girlfriend, 14-year-old Morgan Lane Arnold, had instructed him to kill both her father and his girlfriend in their sleep.
They’re both in jail — charged as adults.
Dr. Jack Vaeth, a psychiatrist who has treated hundreds of violent youths, says in most cases warning signs are not easy to spot, but they are there.
“When you see deviation from the norm, question it. And sometimes seek help if you have a great concern,” he said.
Dr. Vaeth said in general, children who murder their parents can be divided into three types: the mentally disturbed, a child who was abused by a parent and the most unpredictable — a previously “normal” child whose parents do set limits, but then the child fights back.
“They say ‘No you can’t do that, no you shouldn’t do that, no you’re not going to do this in my house.’ And the child adopts an attitude – ‘Oh you’re not going to stand in my way,’” he said.
Police say Morgan Lane Arnold and Jason Bulmer planned to run away to California after murdering Dennis Lane and his girlfriend. They say the two had been planning the crime for two months.
Dr. Vaith says pre-meditation is common when a child murders a parent who had tried to limit his or her behavior.
“They back off and say ‘I’m going to get you when you least expect it. So that I can go on and do what I want to do in life and you’re not going to block it,’” he said.
He says the key is to start setting limit early in life, preferably when kids are still toddlers.
“I have parents of 14 and 15 year old kids coming to me and I’m saying well you’ve never set limits on them. (and they respond) ‘Well I think I should start now’ and I look and say I don’t want to sound like a pessimist and say it’s too late but it’s sure going to feel like it when you start trying,” he said.
And if there is any indication that violence is a possibility, he says it’s better to be safe than sorry.
“When a child makes a threat assume it’s serious, because your overreaction to that threat is much more prudent than your under-reaction,” he said.
Like many parents we’ve talked to — Dr. Vaeth said he does have an issue with the 19-year-old boy dating the 14-year-old girl in this case. However, police have not released any information on what they believe the motive was for the murder.