Oregon Mother Kills Autistic Son, and Here Come the Excuses

Oregon Mother Kills Autistic Son, and Here Come the Excuses

Jillian McCabe, age 34, of Seal Rock, Oregon, made her first court appearance by video yesterday afternoon, wearing a suicide vest. McCabe is being charged with aggravated murder in the death of her six year old son London. His body was found early Tuesday morning in Yaquina Bay. The details are both chilling and sickening, as McCabe called 911 to report herself to authorities.

When asked the nature of her emergency, she told the 911 dispatcher, “I just threw my son over the Yaquina Bay Bridge,” according to a probable cause affidavit obtained by KGW Tuesday morning.

She told the dispatcher her son London was gone in the water, and described him and his clothing in detail, then described herself as an officer approached her. She told several officers on the scene that she had thrown the boy into the water.

For those who are wondering, Oregon news outlet KGW says that the drop from the bridge deck to the water is 133 feet.

And as soon as the news broke that this woman had thrown her own child off a bridge to his death, her family immediately came rushing to her defense to blame… mental illness.

“It’s a great tragedy,” said the boy’s great aunt, Tanya McCabe.

Relatives said Jillian had been suffering from mental illness for more than two years and snapped after a series of difficulties: caring for a severely autistic, non-verbal child; her husband’s life-threatening illness; and the death of her father.

Tanya said she helped coordinate Jillian’s care and the family had to fight to obtain the inpatient and outpatient services she did receive. State health officials said they could not comment.

Jillian’s brother-in-law Andrew McCabe told NBC news that Jillian sought psychiatric help but did not get the services she needed. She tried to commit suicide several times, but they had no warning that she would harm her son, he said.

“Jillian gave no indication of what she was going to do that night. We were led to believe that she was receiving the care she needed to get better,” Andrew said. “We were wrong. And we are carrying the guilt from here on.

Several family members also told KGW that Jillian had tried to get therapy to help her cope, but couldn’t get any consistent treatment from public or private providers. They said she felt overwhelmed and was in a mental health crisis.

McCabe’s husband was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis and a mass on his brain stem, so McCabe set up a crowdfunding page (which has since been taken down).

Jillian had recently created an online donation site for her son and husband. She said London was diagnosed with autism and her husband, Matt McCabe, was struggling with multiple sclerosis. She lived in Hood River at the time, as first reported earlier by NBC News.

“I love my husband and he has taken care of myself and my son for years and years and now it’s time for me to take the helm,” she says. “I am scared and I am reaching out. I hope I am not coming across trashy or over-reactionary. I must explore every avenue to take care of my family right now.”

The appeal for money ended eight months ago, after raising $6,831 toward a goal of $50,000.

The facts are incontrovertible. Jillian McCabe killed her son by throwing him off a bridge, where he either died from the impact of the fall or by drowning, and then called 911 to confess. Everyone is offering reasons and excuses on why she would make the choice to murder her own child.

As the mother of an autistic son, I’ll say it – she has NO excuses for what she did.

Now, my son is not as severe on the autism spectrum as Landon McCabe. So, while I might not “walk in her shoes,” we shop at the same shoe store and I’ve tried her shoes on for size during the last 4 and a half years since my son’s formal diagnosis. I have zero empathy for a woman who kills her child. I am also equally infuriated by her family, who is basically shrugging their shoulders and saying, “Well, we tried to help her” while stating their belief that she was capable of harming herself, but they didn’t believe that she would hurt London.

Jillian McCabe may well have been suffering from mental illness. She may have needed inpatient care. She may have needed respite from the care of her son. However, there are mitigating factors which strip me of any empathy of her.
1) According to her husband’s blog, she had left him. As of April of this year, he was living with his parents in Seal Rock, saying “I heard there was a really good Autism program out here. There is also a summer program he can attend, which is good since he (London) has missed so much school as of late.” So, while Matt McCabe may have been physically limited, they did have support from family members and he was involved in London’s care. He did report that Jillian had “moved back” in September – presumably, into her husband’s parents’ home. She was NOT his “solo caregiver” at this point.

2) London was six years old and in school. Jillian was not with him all day, every day, with no respite in sight.

London McCabe attended kindergarten at Crestview Heights Elementary in Waldport, according to school district officials. His bright blue eyes and grin stood out, under one of his favorite hats, in a recent school photo shared with KGW.

London McCabe's kindergarten photo
London McCabe’s kindergarten photo

3) These family members who say they tried to get Jillian mental health services never bothered to take her child from her. They claim that they didn’t because they didn’t “believe” that she would harm him, only herself. So, leaving a child with a suicidal mother is just FINE because she won’t hurt HIM? These family members SHOULD feel guilt, and they ARE partially to blame. The truth is that not ONE of those family members was willing to take London in because they did not want the responsibility of taking on the care of a severely autistic child. Because THEY perceived him as a “burden,” they were unwilling to step up. If he had been neurotypical, or “normal,” do you really think they would have let a woman, who they claim needed inpatient mental health services, continue to have custody of her child?

I am absolutely furious with Jillian McCabe, and all who stood around her and did nothing to stop her. And I am not the only one.

The Autistic Self Advocacy Network said that “this crime should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law” and urged the media “to avoid framing murdered children as burdens on their family.”

Jillian McCabe had opportunity after opportunity, as she took to social media with her blog (now gone) and her crowdfunding and her YouTube videos, to get help. And she DID have help. Was it enough help? Maybe not. That does NOT give her an excuse to kill her own child. But the problem is, we now have a culture that has assigned no value to a child like London. Since he was nonverbal (which I know a little something about), difficult to care for (yes, I understand that, too), and “severe” on the spectrum, I can guarantee you that even as these family members mourn him, they are also secretly and shamefully relieved that they no longer have to deal with the “burden” of his care.

ASAN is absolutely correct that London is being presented as the cause of his own death. He caused his mother to snap and kill him. And Jillian is being handed the excuse of “mental illness” and being “overburdened.” London’s extended family, who tried to help his mother, all failed him. They failed to consider his safety because they didn’t want to deal with it. They bear responsibility for letting a mentally ill woman have access to a six year old who could not defend himself.

Ultimately, responsibility falls on Jillian McCabe. She took her own child, a little boy who loved hats and soft fuzzy things, and threw him off a bridge. And then she calmly called 911, informed them of what had happened, what London was wearing, and what she was wearing as police arrived.

If it were up to me, she would be convicted of aggravated murder and thrown off the bridge herself. She could face the death penalty, but I am certain that when the decision has to be made, the prosecution will say there are too many “mitigating factors” to allow for the death penalty.

It’s just horrific that London McCabe didn’t get the benefit of any “mitigating factors” as his mother flung him to his death.

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  • Catherine says:

    I concur, FULLY, with your sentiments, Deanna. How casually our current culture dismisses the sanctity of life to excuse the behavior of people that murder. It ranges from getting an abortion because it’s “inconvenient” to the wringing of hands over mental illness that leads to murder. OF COURSE she was mentally ill….who, in their right mind, kills their child? I’ll tell you who….people that need to be either locked away for good or put to death. Harsh? Yes. We need harsh when dealing with situations like this. Not “understanding”.

  • Merle says:

    Oh My God! Words fail me! I can never understand people like that! I to hope she gets to spend a LONG time in jail for this!


  • Nina says:

    Deanna, you are absolutely correct in your assessment!!

    We have a friend who has raised a severely autistic (non-verbal) son and worked full-time as a paralegal as she’s done so. Oh, and she’s raised her son (who is now 21) as a single mother. Not only that, but she fought and scrapped to find/use every resource she could – which in WY for most of the last 20 years (they are in CO now) was at times pretty limited for her son.

    Were there times when she wanted to go hide and just give up? I’ve no doubt there have been many. Were there times when she just despaired over the situation? I’ve no doubt.

    But did she ever contemplate murdering her son as London was murdered by his mother? I’ve no doubt whatsoever in my mind that her answer to that question would be a resounding HELL NO.

  • AC says:

    London was a 6 year old person who deserved to be kept safe. His whole family failed him and they deserve the blame.
    Most of that blame belongs to the women who chose to throw him off a bridge. Had she been mentally ill at the time then how was she able to call 911 and confess? Wouldn’t the illness preclude her from knowing right from wrong? She needs to pay for her crime.

  • Jen says:

    This happened in a state that sanctions state assisted suicide via physician supplied and supervised lethal medication. The voters approved this measure.
    Don’t expect anything but tons of sympathy and justification coming on behalf of McCabe. If there is a jury trial, she will be found not guilty due to insanity and committed to a treatment center which she will be released from within several years.

  • Anonymous says:

    Why is everyone so shocked? This is a late-term abortion. HANDS OFF JILLIAN MCCABE’S BODY! Infanticide is a woman’s choice! It’s a Constitutional right, even though it can’t be found anywhere in the Constitution! Society is to blame!

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