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.
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.