Familial filicide and filicide classification

Am J Forensic Med Pathol. 1999 Sep;20(3):286-92. doi: 10.1097/00000433-199909000-00014.


Filicide is the killing of a child by his or her parent. Despite the disturbing nature of these crimes, a study of filicide classification can provide insight into their causes. Furthermore, a study of filicide classification provides information essential to accurate death certification. We report a rare case of familial filicide in which twin sisters both attempted to kill their respective children. We then suggest a detailed classification of filicide subtypes that provides a framework of motives and precipitating factors leading to filicide. We identify 16 subtypes of filicide, each of which is sufficiently characteristic to warrant a separate category. We describe in some detail the characteristic features of these subtypes. A knowledge of filicide subtypes contributes to interpretation of difficult cases. Furthermore, to protect potential child homicide victims, it is necessary to know how and why they are killed. Epidemiologic studies using filicide subtypes as their basis could provide information leading to strategies for prevention.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Forensic Psychiatry
  • Homicide / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Suicide / psychology*
  • Twins, Dizygotic / psychology*