Female Killers · Illinois

Mother suffocates autistic toddler

May 13, 2006
Morton, Illinois
Karen McCarron suffocates her 3-year-old autistic daughter, Katie, allegedly because raising the toddler was too stressful

The day of the murder, McCarron took Katie in her car to “calm her down” though McCarron’s mother noted Katie didn’t seem to need to be calmed. She took Katie to her parents’ house which she knew to be empty (her mother was visiting the McCarron house and her father was in Germany). She took Katie inside, suffocated her with a white garbage bag, disposed of the bag, and brought Katie back home claiming she was napping.

She laid Katie in bed, talked with her mother and brother, went to the grocery store to buy herself ice cream, returned home to “check” on Katie who didn’t normally nap long, screamed at the “discovery” that Katie was not breathing, and called her family members to help. Paramedics noted McCarron was especially calm given the circumstances.

During trial, her defense team tried to portray her as overly stressed by the burden of raising a special needs child, and referred to several times she contemplated placing Katie in adoption. The prosecution, however, showed McCarron’s extensive support network including Katie’s grandparents and 2 paid full-time caregivers. McCarron was found guilty of first-degree murder, obstruction of justice, and concealment of a homicidal death. She was sentenced to 36 years in prison.

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