Criminal profilers point to possible motives in child murders

The Browsnville Herald, Mar. 16, 2003
By BRITTNEY BOOTH, The Brownsville Herald


Itís the question thatís resonated throughout Brownsville since Tuesday as the community tries to comprehend one of the bloodiest crimes in the cityís recent history.

John Allen Rubio, 22, and Angela Camacho, 23, allegedly killed and decapitated their three children ó Julissa Angela Quezada, 3, John Esthefan Rubio, 1, and 2 month-old Mary Jane Rubio ó on Monday in a tiny downtown apartment. The bodies were not discovered until Tuesday.

The couple is charged with three counts of capital murder each and are being held without bond.

Though the common law husband and wife allegedly confessed to the crime, police have not said what prompted the grisly murders but did say the killings were not part of a sacrificial act.

A relative who did not want to be identified told The Brownsville Herald on Friday that Rubio had told family members that the “devil had been talking to him” for months and he reportedly heard his deceased relatives speaking from the children.

And while police arenít revealing many details saying they do not want to jeopardize the investigation, there are only a few possible motives, said Brent Turvey, a forensic scientist and criminal profiler who consults law enforcement and lawyers in similar cases. Heís based in Alaska.

“Iíve never seen a case where the police did not announce immediately what the motive was. Itís not difficult to determine,” he said.

However, deriving a logical reason to commit such a crime is a more arduous task.

“What they really mean by (no motive) is they donít know why parents would kill their children ó thatís the moral disgust they are displaying,” he said.

Turvey suspects the young couple, who reportedly did not have steady income, may not have been able to handle the financial burden of three children and were desperate to alleviate their fiscal responsibility.

“You canít overlook overwhelming financial burden as a contributing issue here,” Turvey said, adding that perhaps one or both parents were mentally ill and misinterpreted deep religious convictions.

Turvey has been involved with cases where parents killed their children mistakenly believing they were possessed by demons, though itís not a very convincing motive, he said.

“Is that their excuse or did they really believe it?” he said.

And as gruesome as decapitation is, Turvey calls it “functional behavior, common in domestic homicides when trying to get rid of the body. Law enforcement stumbled across this in the process of disposing the body.”

But another expert said the mutilation might indicate occult involvement.

“Iíve got some concerns because a lot of the occult related crimes have to do with mutilation of bodies in some form,” said Gregory Reid, who heads the Cult Research and Crime Consultants in El Paso and has assisted law enforcement with cult-related crimes that have occurred in the Rio Grande Valley.

Both experts believe that if there were an occult connection, the police would likely find evidence in their home like jewelry, books or other religious items. Police arenít releasing such details.

Drugs also could have been involved, they said.

Both Reid and Turvey point to a case they say is somewhat similar.

Andrea Yates, the Texas woman who was convicted for drowning her five children one year ago, claimed she was mentally unstable due to postpartum depression. Camacho gave birth to Mary Jane in early January; it could be she suffered the same illness.

“For a mother to do this is extraordinary,” Reid said. “For a mother to cross that boundary and emotionally disconnect from her own children almost borders on evil.”

While police said both parents had a role in decapitating their children, the experts said itís likely one took a leadership role and the other followed in fidelity.

“What you donít have is two people saying, ĎLetís kill the children tonight.í Thatís very unlikely,” Turvey said.

The pair were reportedly calm when detained by police Tuesday.

But Turvey said they were likely in shock or emotionally withdrawn.

“They made a very harsh decision roundly criticized by every other human on the planet; their response is going to be shame and silence,” he said. “The reaction seems consistent with people that just killed their children. They can be completely withdrawn.”

To determine the real motivation, Turvey said investigators have to look closely at what he calls the “back story” or “victimology.”

Events leading up to the crime need to be examined ó court and hospital records, religious beliefs, discipline and their own childhood ó to fully understand what happened, he said.

Turvey calls the behavior “psychopathic” because of the cold and unremorseful nature.

“Psychopaths are capable to do things most people arenít,” he said. “It could also be they thought they were doing the right thing out of religious beliefs or mental health.”

Reid pointed out that relatives who saw Rubio at the arraignment commented that he “was like a different person.”

“Something happened to precipitate this if people who knew him said he was such a nice person and all the sudden heís totally altered,” he said. “Something happened and thatís the missing piece.”

Still, Reid said in some cases there are no answers.

“When you get to something this blatant, you get to the point that you canít analyze this,” he said. “You have to face the facts that some people have given themselves over to evil.”

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