Earlier this month, Judge Desai expressed reluctance during Henri van Breda’s sentencing hearing because of Henri’s youth. He was barely 20 years old at the time of the triple axe murders. He turned 20 in November. The murders happened the following January. He was almost a teenager when it happened. He’s a 23-year-old now. What are we to make of this argument?
Does age matter when it comes to mass murder?
We get some clarity on this issue from the brutal double murders by two 14-year-olds from Spalding, Lincolnshire, in Britain. Their horrific crime in April 2016 involved the murder of Kim’s mother and 13-year-old sister by Lucas, a boy to whom she’d expressed feelings of pique about her mother.
Without knowing much about the crime, to hear Kim’s confession, one could swear Lucas had “just” stabbed his mother and sister once each, and then smothered them to death [as if that wasn’t bad enough]. In other words, it was a fairly painless, innocent crime, and they didn’t inflict any more pain than necessary. That’s the impression conveyed through what is said and in the manner of how it is said. Zero emotion because there’s apparently nothing to be emotional about.
Speaking in a flat tone, Kim told the cops matter of factly that she was “okay with it” [it being the fact that her boyfriend had killed her mother and younger sibling].
You have to hear Kim speaking to get the lack of emotion in her voice. Click on the YouTube video below, it opens at the moment Kim confesses to cops.
That volunteering of information is an ominous sign. “It wasn’t like it was torture, or anything…” In other words, it was okay. Kim was okay with it. She didn’t do it, and Lucas didn’t do any harm. They did what they had to do. They killed Kim’s mother and sister and that’s it. No big deal.
Lucas gives a similar flat unemotional account:
In the audio, Lucas confessed in a calm, undramatic voice and said: “I went into her mum’s room and stabbed her in the neck while she was asleep on her side and smothered her face with a pillow. And after I knew she had gone, I went into Katie’s room – which is the same room as Kim’s – and I thought I stabbed her, but… I thought I stabbed her, but I’m not a hundred per cent sure – it was, like, her on a mattress and then I smothered her face with a pillow too.”
He admits killing Elizabeth then admits he killed Katie because he thought she would call the police. Asked to confirm if that was the only reason, Lucas casually replied: “Pretty much.”
The audio of Lucas’ account, in a similar soft, matter-of-fact flat tone, can be heard at this link, scroll to the video at the bottom.
So these are confessions. Is it the truth though?
I often say in true crime that not all liars are murderers, but all murderers are liars. No matter what Lucas and Kim told the police, there is such a thing as forensic and autopsy evidence. That tells a different story about what happened. There was blood on the walls, on the ceilings, everywhere. The mother and child weren’t quietly or carefully executed, it was a planned [premeditated] murder which both teenagers plotted together over several days, and what’s more, the murders were extremely gratuitous.
I was okay with it.
The murderers enjoyed themselves while committing their crimes. In other words, they’re sadists.
I would argue that Henri van Breda is sadistic as well.
The Mirror provides the following description of the crime scene:
They meticulously plotted the stabbings and agreed Markham should knock three times on a rear window, before climbing into the property through a bathroom window, opened by Edwards. Markham later went to the house but Edwards had fallen asleep so he was unable to get into the property, the court was told.
The next night, Edwards fell asleep again. But on April 13, Edwards heard three knocks on the window of the bedroom she shared with Katie at around midnight. She let Markham into the bathroom and he passed her a bag containing spare clothing and four knives, the court heard. The original murderous plan was said to have been for Markham to kill Elizabeth and for Edwards to stab Katie, it was said.
However, Markham offered to kill both victims after his girlfriend told him she did not want to kill her sister. The Crown Court heard how the teenage boy used a kitchen knife to stab the mum and daughter after attacking them as they slept.
Elizabeth was stabbed eight times – including five times in the hands as she desperately tried to defend herself. One of the two blows to her neck almost completely cut through her windpipe.
It’s important to look at these kids to intuit the sort of behaviour Henri van Breda was doing not only before the crimes but after. It’s precisely because these criminals are so young that their motives are so difficult for adults to figure out. One has to think like a young person in order to fathom their reality, and the operative dynamic.
Teen killer Kim Edwards was the “driver” behind the meticulous murders of her own mum and little sister who were butchered in their beds, it can now be revealed. The schoolgirl, who claimed her mum “favoured” her sister, mapped out a detailed plan to stab the pair through their voice boxes to stifle their screams. She roped in Markham to carry out the “brutal executions” and later shared a bath with him so they could wash the blood off themselves, a court heard.
The evil couple, likened to Bonnie and Clyde during a trial, also watched four Twilight vampire films and had sex as they “revelled” after the double killing last April.
But even the reason – that the mother favoured the younger sibling – isn’t quite why the mother had to be gotten rid of. There are many families like that, where there’s sibling rivalry and teenagers fuming over impressions of favouritism. Anyone who thinks this crime occurred – in all its brutality – just because of run-of-the-mill rivalries doesn’t understand true crime psychology. So what was it? What really triggered the crime:
On April 9, Edwards barricaded herself into Markham’s room with him after her mum told her she would turn out like her absent dad – described in court as a drug addict. They only left the room at 2pm the next day, when they climbed out of a window. On April 11, the pair then had a conversation in the back garden of the Edwards’ family home, during which they agreed to kill Elizabeth and Katie.
On April 13th, Kim’s mother Elizabeth and Katie were murdered.
What happened after the murder? The couple got to do what they wanted to be able to do, and had been limited in doing. Screwing, watching movies for as long as they liked, and perhaps shooting themselves up with drugs.
According to the Independent:
Over the course of the next 36 hours the besotted teenagers, then both 14, had sex, shared a bath and watched Twilight vampire films before police arrived.
The exact same scenario of inappropriate emotion haunts the Van Breda case. There’s also the contention that because of the mixed blood traces in the shower, Henri washed the waterfall of his family’s blood off his body, then calmly smoked cigarettes without anyone to tell him not to.
Consider Kim Edwards’ words:
I was okay with it…it gave me peace of mind.
This was Kim’s feeling after the crime. Basically I’m glad I did it, I don’t have to be so anxious now…
Just as these young teenagers didn’t show any emotion whatsoever, Henri was flat and emotionless when he called emergency services, he was flat and emotionless throughout the trial, and he was flat and emotionless when he was found guilty on all charges and sentences to life. It’s the same zombie-affect throughout.
In the case of the Twilight Killers, the motive is really entitlement. I want to be with my boyfriend [both their families were against their relationship, they’d run away together before], I want to be allowed to do what I want to do.
The jealousy over the sibling is a factor, and the parent’s preferential treatment of the other sibling feels unfair, but it’s a smokescreen to the much uglier thing that hangs over the crime.
Of course the hidden thing is the thing that removed the inhibition to commit murder, the thing that makes one laugh and celebrate the slaughter of someone else, as if it’s part of a fun day. That hidden thing is drugs.
The drugs aren’t the reason for the crime, but they set the underlying psychology that is already there [whether in one individual, or shared by two] into motion.
Lucas and Kim were both sentenced to life imprisonment, which in Britain is 20 years. When they appealed their sentences, arguing their youth as a mitigating factor, the sentences were commuted from 20 years to 17.5 years. The Judge, in pronouncing sentence, nevertheless remarked:
“When committing the murder, he had a sense of calmness and happiness…”