Family mass murders, like the Odle family murders, and other domestic homicides can be prevented if people know what to look for. Family mass murders, or acts of familicide, are usually committed by males, typically the husband and father. In most cases of familicide, the husband/father serially executes his wife and one or more of the children, and subsequently commits suicide.
The motives for such horrific crimes include the following:
- Acts of desperation driven by severe mental illness such as psychotic depression or delusions associated with other psychotic disorders
- Impulsive acts committed by chronically depressed men plagued with longstanding feelings of inferiority, insecurity, and inadequacy, with a concomitant drug or alcohol addiction, who are intoxicated at the time of the killings
- Premeditated and planned executions committed by narcissistic antisocial men with psychopathic tendencies intended to quickly and efficiently dispose of the family in order to enable them to freely pursue other love interests or sexual endeavors.
The term parricide refers to the killing of a parent by a child and includes acts of matricide (killing of a mother or stepmother) and patricide (killing of a father or stepfather). Although severe forms of mental illness such as paranoid schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and other psychotic disorders have been implicated in acts of parricide, child abuse is the most common factor cited in motivational analyses of parricidal acts.
In reaction to the growing awareness of the high prevalence of a history of abuse of the offender by the victim in cases of parricide, one model classifies parricide offenders into one of three types, based on primary motive:
- children who have suffered chronic physical, sexual, and/or mental abuse kill their parents to end the abuse
- children who manifest a severe mental disorder kill their parents in relation to psychotic symptoms such as paranoid delusions or command hallucinations
- dangerously antisocial children kill their parents for personal gain, such as freedom from parental control or inheritance.