When we think of criminals, we think of adults, who have a reason for committing crimes, be it a crime of passion, a crime of necessity, or a crime for the sake of crime, we rarely imagine young criminals. In fact, according to the National Center for Juvenile Justice, the arrest rate for all adolescents between the age of 10-17 has declined by 74% since its highest level in 1996.
There are over 2,000 people in the US that are serving life sentences for crimes they committed as children. Most violent crimes committed by adolescents were most likely committed due to the fact that gangs tend to initiate new members at an early age when the children are more susceptible to peer pressure.
Aside from gang violence, there are some ghastly crimes committed by youngsters that will most likely have you reeling and asking yourself how someone so young could have done something so horrible. Here are some of those criminals and their stories.
Lionel Tate was the youngest person in US history to be sentenced to life imprisonment at the age of 13. In January of 2001, Tate was being babysat along with 6-year-old Tiffany Eunick by Tate’s mother. After being left to play in the basement, Tate came upstairs to inform his mother that Eunick was not breathing.
The investigation that followed determined that Tate beat and stomped on Eunick so severely that the bruises were equal to the scenario that she fell off a three-story building. Tate was convicted of 1st-degree murder and was sentenced to life in prison with no possibility of parole due to the cruel nature of the murder.
Mary Bell was a British girl who as a child of 10 killed two toddlers. Bell’s mother was a prostitute and did not know who her father was. As a child Bell suffered from physical and sexual abuse by her mother, who reportedly tried to kill her on a number of occasions including her falling out of a window, overdosing on sleeping pills. Bell also claims her mother made her commit sexual acts on her clients beginning at age 4. When Mary was 10, a day before the 11th birthday she strangled to death a 4-year-old child in an abandoned house.
Later that year, Bell along with an accomplice strangled a 3-year-old boy to death in a nearby area. Bell later went back to the crime scene and carved an M into the boy's abdomen and mutilated his body. Bell was released from prison after serving 12 years and was granted a new identity.
William York was a 10-year-old boy living in a poorhouse, which is a facility that provides housing for the needy. In 1748, he murdered his bedmate Susan Mahew. According to York’s confession, they got into a minor fight in which he slapped her, Mahew began to cry and left the house to go to the dunghill.
York began to follow her with a hook in his hand with the intention to kill her but then went back inside the house to get a knife. York then murdered Mahew by cutting her deeply in several parts of her body. He washed off her body with a pail of water and buried her in the dunghill and then returned to the house for breakfast. York was initially sentenced to death for his crime but was later pardoned due to his young age.
Carl Newton Mahan
Carl Mahan was just six years old when he killed his 8-year-old friend Cecil Van Hoose in 1929. The two children were looking for scrap metal to sell to a junk dealer.
When Mahan eventually found a piece of iron, a fight ensued and Cecil stole it and hit Mahan with the metal. Mahan ran home, took his father's shotgun and proceeded to shoot Van Hoose after a warning. A trial for the 6-year-old boy was held a week after the murder and it took a jury less than 30 minutes to convict Mahan of manslaughter and sentence him to 15 years in reform school.
Graham Young, was ironically very young when he began to murder and even received the nickname the “Teacup Poisoner”. At a young age, Young was fascinated with chemistry and began to experiment. His experiments eventually led to him testing poisons on his family. His first murder was his stepmother Molly at the age of 14, but he also attempted to kill his sister and nearly killed his father who was on the verge of death but was saved in the hospital.
After his aunt became suspicious and his schoolteacher found poison in his school desk, Graham was questioned and admitted to the crimes. He served 9 years in a mental health facility before being declared healthy. There is a suspicion that he poisoned a fellow inmate at the facility using plants he found on the grounds of the facility, but this was never proven. After being released, Graham went on to poison his coworkers with tea, he poisoned 7 of them, and one eventually died. He was arrested again and sentenced to life in prison where he died at the age of 42.
Cayetano Santos Godino
Cayetano Santos Godino also is known as The Big-Eared Midget was a child serial killer who terrorized children in Argentina for the year of 1912 until his arrest. Starting from when he was a child he began to torture and kill cats and birds and experiment with arson. At the age of 7 he began to use violence against other children, he was always released due to his long age. But in 1912, his worst crimes came to light. Godino set fire to a warehouse and when he was arrested Godino said “I like to see firemen working.
It's nice to see how they fall into the fire”. He later set fire to the dress of a 5-year-old girl who suffered for a few days before dying. In December of 1912, Godino committed perhaps his most brutal murder when he offered some candy to an 18-month-old in order to entice the toddler to follow him. He took the boy to a country house where he hammered a nail into the boy's skull and then hid the body. Godino was arrested the next day and spent the rest of his life in jail. In total Godino was responsible for the murder of four children, the attempted murder of another seven children, and seven counts of arson.
Josh Phillips became a murderer when he was just 14. In November of 1998, an 8-year-old girl named Maddie Clifton disappeared, there was a subsequent search party which Phillips joined, but the search found nothing. A week after her disappearance Phillip's mother noticed a leak from her sons' water bed and found the missing girl's body hidden in the base.
Phillips was arrested and in the statement that he made to the police, he said that he and Maddie were playing baseball when he hit the ball into her head which caused her to cry. In his panic, he took Maddie into his room and choked her with a phone cord and beat her with a baseball bat. A while later when Phillips noticed that Clifton was still alive, he stabbed her 11 times until she died. Phillips was sentenced to life in prison with no possibility of parole.