Saturday Massacre

One must be insane to kill their own child, right? Julie Shenecker sits in court writing notes. Her appearance is non-descript. Every day she comes to court wearing a pastel pink shirt, under a grey suit. She killed her two children in ‘cold blood.’

First she shot her fourteen year old son Beau, once on the drive home from soccer practise, and once more whilst the car was stationary, in the garage of the family home. He was left buckled in the passenger’s seat, because she could not reposition him into his bedroom, like she had hoped.

It was important for her to kill her children separately, so not to arouse suspicion in her daughter. After killing her son, she then climbed the stairs of her house and lodged two bullets in the back of her sixteen year old daughter, Calyx’s head. Calyx was doing her homework on the computer at the time.

They were shot because they were, in her words, ‘becoming mouthy.’

She was meticulous in her planning. Under the heading, ‘Saturday Massacre’ she mapped out an intricate running order in her diary, detailing how the massacre would unfold.

Julie Shenecker drove several miles to another county to purchase a gun, because she did not want to be recognised. The prosecutor said ‘she chose the gun as though she was picking out jewellery.’

By all accounts she presented well, staff saying there was nothing unusual in her interactions with them. She stated she needed the gun for protection.

She knew the right thing to say. For if she told the truth of what the gun was really for, it would not be appreciated. She knew this. She had enough insight to know what she was doing, was wrong.

‘This is not the logic of an insane person’ the Prosecutor told the court.

Initially Julie Shenecker’s plan did not include killing her son, but because he was becoming mouthy like his sister, he would suffer the same fate as her. To execute her plan, Julie would need six bullets. Calyx and Beau would each get two bullets, and two extra bullets were needed in case of any anomalies.

A glitch to her plan, meant she would have to wait five days for the gun to arrive.

Five days to contemplate, to reflect.

The Saturday massacre would no longer be taking place on the day she anticipated. Instead the massacre would have to be postponed to the following Thursday.

Her warped mind believed the three of them would be reunited in heaven. She believed she was saving her children from, being bipolar, from embarrassment and sexual assault, all of which had been a part of her own life.

The Prosecutor said that Julie Shenecker wanted her husband, Parker Shenecker to find the Saturday Massacre. He had become her emotional target.

She feared abandonment.

Julie Shenecker had a diagnosis of bipolar disorder. She tried to combat this by self-medicating, using alcohol and various pills. She was on five different mood stabilisers.

She had physical pain associated with her medication and started exhibiting psychosis. Julie believed there were cameras scattered throughout the house, watching her every move. She experienced side effects from the medication, such as tongue thrusting.

She went to Alcoholics Anonymous, drank on the way and crashed her car.

Her husband  gives her an ultimatum, ‘go to rehab’ or don’t come back to the family home.  After her short stint in rehab, she is discharged with medical staff believing her to have insight and in no danger to herself, or society.

Parker was used to picking up the pieces and often times his mother would come over to help out, whilst Julie would spend weeks bedridden. Parker told the court he did not want to walk on ‘egg shells’ anymore. Julie’s lawyers said ‘Parker was treating her problem as a dependency problem, instead of a mental health problem.’ Being in the army, meant Parker was away for long periods, leaving his children in the care of their mother most of the time.

The Sheneckers lived in a lot of different cities throughout the world as Parker progressed in his career. Parker and Julie met in the army when they were both based in Germany. Julie was working as a linguist at the time and was representing the army in volleyball. She was a person who seemed in control of her life, strong and athletic, qualities that Parker said attracted him to her.

How could he predict what she would do? He told the court she had been a good mother, referring to her throughout proceedings as the defendant, never once speaking her name.

One night Calyx phoned the police after her mother slapped her. Calyx told her therapist she was angry because her mother slept all the time and was not like other mothers.

Calyx asked her mother to put on make-up, to make an effort. This angered Julie, who wrote in her diary her daughter was becoming mouthy.

When asked whether she had told her Doctor of her plans, she said, ‘they would have thwarted it.’

She was not insane, she knew exactly what she was doing. She knew it was the wrong thing to do. An insane person believes what they are doing is right. She concealed the gun and her plan of filicide.

To prove insanity, it comes down to knowing what is right and wrong at the ‘exact moment’ the crime takes place. Was Julie Shenecker insane at the time she killed Beau and Calyx? The prosecutor told the court ‘a psychotic person doesn’t question their own insanity.’

Psychotic thinking is thinking that is detached from reality, you are a true believer in your false beliefs. Her defence team asked she be found guilty by reason of insanity, because she thought what she was doing was right.

She told the first Police officer at the scene that she hated shooting him, meaning Beau, but said ‘he is better.’

Her defence team said she had poor insight, and was working against herself and should have been hospitalised. If her thinking was logical, she would have made different decisions. She lost her way, and did not know the difference between right and wrong. She shot Beau, despite him seeing the gun.

A healthy Julie shenecker would never have done this.

The defence team said ‘nobody understood her, she was isolated and alone in her mental illness. They would not understand, just like her family wouldn’t understand. She has a history of being a good mother, and a person trying to get it together.’

‘Parker I’m sorry, I’m so sorry, I don’t know what to say’, she said when she saw her husband after he found out his children had been killed at the hands of their mother. She was more worried about how upset Parker would be, her behaviour was like a child, worried about getting into trouble.

The Prosecutor believed Julie was not insane at the time. ‘It was pre-meditated. They said, ‘whilst there is no denying she has a mental illness, she arranged it so that her husband would find the massacre.’

Police arrived at the Shenecker household following a call from Julie Shenecker’s mother, who was concerned she had not heard from her daughter. They found Julie lying on the ground at the entrance to the back part of the house. When she came to, was asked by the officer if she had cut her arm, she replied ‘I wish that was the source of the blood.’

Prosecutors did not believe the story that was told to the Police. ‘When she heard the door bell ring, it was only then she stuck the notes on the door, the officer found. She wrote that they were out town and would be back in a few days. The carpool was no longer needed as was arranged. The prosecution believed this was concocted after the murders took place. She then took some pills, drank some alcohol, and passed out.

The jury agreed with the prosecution, that Julie Shenecker was not insane. She was found guilty of two counts of first degree murder, to be served concurrently.

Julie Shenecker addressed the judge post sentencing, thanking him for how he ran the court and the judicial system, which she said was the best in the world.

Her bizarre speech and mannerisms showed a very sick woman.

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