From Casey Anthony to Susan Smith to Andrea Yates, cases of maternal filicide or mothers killing their children have long fascinated Americans. Experts say it’s not that some women lack maternal instincts like Nancy Grace and other cable TV pundits have made out, but that many of these incidents point to mental health issues and lack of support from the abuser – both have been exacerbated since the onset of COVID-19.
From London to Connecticut, there have been incidents of mothers killing their children, which have been attributed to pandemic-induced depression and psychosis. South Florida alone has seen at least four cases where mothers are accused of killing their children since March 2020. The most recent example is the case of Odette Joassaint, who allegedly strangled her 3-year-old children and 5 in Little River on Tuesday nights.
Below is an overview of the four local cases, listed in chronological order.
UPDATE: At 3am, Patricia Ripley was arrested for first degree murder after she confessed to drowning her 9-year-old autistic child, Alejandro. Before confessing, she made up a story about two black men abducting the boy. https://t.co/ga8EkyIYw5 pic.twitter.com/yZExIry2da
—Jim DeFede (@DeFede) May 23, 2020
Patricia Ripley: ‘He’s going to be in a better place’
In May 2020, Patricia Ripley bizarrely claimed two men ‘demanded drugs’ and took away her car with her 9-year-old son Alejandro Ripley inside – only to later admit she had drowned the boy in one channel earlier That day.
West Kendall’s 47-year-old mother tried to drown Alejandro, who was non-verbal and had severe autism, but her plan was thwarted when a good Samaritan rescued the boy from the water. She managed a few hours later to another channel. Ripley reportedly told Miami-Dade police that her son is “going to be in a better place.”
Prosecutors have said they will seek the death penalty for Ripley, who remains imprisoned at Miami-Dade Turner Guilford Knight Correctional Facility.
Neighbors said Tinessa Hogan, 36, acted erratically and recited Bible passages shortly before her baby girls were found floating in a canal https://t.co/dSWR4Pp503
— The Daily Beast (@thedailybeast) July 15, 2021
Tnessa Hogan: “Death is the only answer”
In June 2021, a Broward County mother was arrested and charged with killing her two young daughters, ages 7 and 9, who were found dead in a canal near their Lauderhill home.
The night before the girls’ bodies were discovered, a neighbor reportedly saw the mother, Tinessa Hogan, swimming in the canal with a Bible in her hand and offering to baptize people’s children. Another neighbor said a woman believed to be Hogan was seen a week before the death holding up a sign that read, “Death is the only answer.”
Hogan remains in the Broward County jail awaiting trial on two counts of premeditated murder, to which she pleaded not guilty last year.
Precious Bland, the mother who cops say drowned her baby after saying impending death from COVID-19 meant everyone should be baptized – and stabbed her husband and a daughter when they couldn’t to arrest him – was formally charged in Miami-Dade court on Saturday. pic.twitter.com/524lT394v3
— HJ (Hank) Ellison (@hjtherealj) September 7, 2021
Precious Bland: “COVID will kill us all”
In August 2021, mother-of-six Precious Bland allegedly drowned her 15-month-old baby during a christening gone wrong.
According to Miami-Dade police, Bland had proclaimed that “COVID is going to kill us all” and “everyone should be baptized.” As the baby drowned, Bland allegedly stabbed her husband and teenage daughter, who tried to stop her. Her other four children reportedly escaped from the house during the incident and ran to a neighbour.
Bland was charged in September with two counts of attempted second-degree murder and two counts of aggravated child abuse. She remains imprisoned at the Miami-Dade Turner Guilford Knight Correctional Center.
UPDATE: A father of murdered children told me that the mother, Odette Joassaint, was long unstable and had lost custody of a third child, a 14-year-old girl.
Court records show the couple also had a long history of domestic disputes.
RIP Laural and Jeffrey Belvalhttps://t.co/tJnAEXrSTo pic.twitter.com/0OdbSJA0uP
— David Ovalle (@DavidOvalle305) April 13, 2022
Odette Joassaint: “I do not want it anymore”
When Miami police officers responded to an apartment in Miami’s Little River neighborhood on Tuesday night after multiple 911 calls were hung up, they came across a gruesome scene: two young children, ages 3 and 5, strangled to death on a bed inside. Their mother, Odette Joassaint, was taken to a Miami-Dade jail the next morning on two counts of first-degree murder.
The 41-year-old woman, who confessed to strangling her toddlers to death with a red ribbon, reportedly told police who arrived at her home to “come and get them, I don’t want them anymore”. Police described Joassaint as “angry” and in the midst of a mental breakdown and said she told detectives her children would “suffer less” if they were dead.
The children’s father told the Miami Herald that Joassaint is unstable and had been unemployed for a year. He also said she “begged” to go back to live with him and he refused.
“I said to him, ‘You are crazy. You are creating too many problems,” he told the Herald.