Sunday Mornings with Rania: Richard Logan and a Look at ‘Familicide’
Writing this on Valentine’s Day weekend, there are posts, commercials and cards everywhere you turn declaring romance, promises made and kept and lives lived together. It’s a time of love. But then I read the headlines: Police officially consider the case a murder-suicide of a loved and esteemed Greatwood family - and I’m absolutely perplexed.
The family patriarch, Richard Logan, was a Sugar Land icon, the founder and CEO of Attack Poverty, a former missions pastor at River Pointe Church. Still, Logan, sometime this last week, is believed to have killed his wife Diana and their 11-year-old son Aaron. He then drove 150 miles where he allegedly tried to strangle his eldest daughter, who thankfully survived. Logan, however, was found dead by suicide shortly thereafter in Guadalupe County.
So why does this happen? The murder-suicide of families - known as familicide - is sadly on the rise. And while there are many deeply complicated reasons such tragedies take place, there are cases where we can see a tragedy coming and other cases that simply leave us all dumbfounded - like the Logan case.
As a Community, There are Times When We See This Coming
Family violence cases continue to increase while simultaneously being the most difficult for law enforcement, victims and the community to navigate. In these cases, abuse of partners or children can turn into murder-suicide for a host of reasons - some in isolation, some overlapping:
- Abuse of a partner or a history of domestic violence (number one factor)
- Child abuse that is about to be reported
- Sexual assault of a child that is about to be reported
- Guilt associated with sexual assault of a child
- Partner separation
- Owning a weapon
- Possessively jealous individuals
- Substance abusers
- Generally, ties can be made to family stressors - such as unemployment, disagreements over money, sex or children - that “tip” the scale when prior abuse is present
Statistically, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Violent Death Reporting System, of 408 murder-suicide cases studied:
- 91 percent were men
- 88 percent used a gun
A 12-city study focused on the 408 murder-suicides above also found that:
- 70 percent had intimate-partner violence
- Only 25 percent showed victims had previously reported the abuse
But what about in picture-perfect families?
What do we make of atypical familicide or cases where there is not an apparent history of abuse?
Statically, we know this about the killers:
- Of 71 family annihilators identified, 59 were male.
- 55 percent were in their 30s; 10 percent were in their 20s and the oldest was discovered to be 59.
- Just under half of all murders were committed over weekends, especially on a Sunday.
- 81 percent of the men attempted suicide after the act.
Additionally, it was found that:
- Most people who commit these atypical familicides are non-Hispanic white males.
- In atypical familicides, past criminal history rarely exists and is not a reliable or significant predictor.
Beyond the data, why do these cases happen? We need to look at the internal logic of the killer in these family annihilation cases. It’s incredibly difficult but I found great information reading David Wilson’s research out of Birmingham City University in London.
Wilson divided these suicidal killers into four groups in an effort to get to their thought process: the anomic killer, the disappointed killer, the self-righteous killer and the paranoid killer.
- The anomic killer sees his family purely as a status symbol; when his economic status collapses or something triggers a collapse of that image in his mind, the family becomes a “surplus” and almost an attack against his status symbol.
- The disappointed killer seeks to punish the family for not living up to his ideals of family life.
- The self-righteous killer destroys the family to exact revenge upon the mother, in an act that he blames on her. Why seek revenge? Based on his mental state, the list is endless.
- Finally, the paranoid killer kills their family in what they imagine to be an attempt to protect them from something even worse. They may be frightened by the state of the world.
Sociologist Emile Durkheim, dating back many years ago, focused on societal factors, when the social bonds between people in a society are either too strong or too weak and it causes the killer to react, taking his family with him. While many feel Durkheim looked only at societal factors, it’s interesting to share one particular theory he had on suicide in cases like the Logan family - cases where other factors are missing. As Durkheim explained one such type of suicide:
- Anomic suicide takes place when someone is overly enmeshed with their family yet face a major life change or disruption. As they seek to escape the issue, they plan to kill themselves, but they take the family they feel overly connected to with them.
Family violence and the notion of familicide is one of the most complex to understand. There are family cases where abuse is more obvious than others but still, in all cases, there is a great shroud of secrecy; additionally, you’re left trying to understand the internal thoughts of a perpetrator. There’s also a tremendous amount of covering up.
Even in the Logan case, Logan’s daughter, who survived the attack, did not immediately report her father’s assault against her to police. What do we do as a society? Keep reading, understanding and talking to those who seem to be struggling.
We live in a world where we all face tremendous burdens and even the most noble of individuals, the most well-respected and esteemed, can’t seem to do it all alone.
Read past Sunday Mornings with Rania posts here. Find more information on Crime Stoppers of Houston on their website or follow them on Facebook. Have topics in mind that you’d like Rania to write about? Comment below or email her at [email protected]. Rania is co-host of a weekly podcast which features interesting local and national guests who used their platforms for the good of the community. Connect with Rania on Instagram and Twitter.
Editor's Note: Views expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of The Buzz Magazines.
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