A 28-year old man has been charged in the death of a woman believed to be his mother, after an 8-hour standoff in an upscale Vancouver neighbourhood on Sunday November 9, 2014. Brian Whitlock was charged with second-degree murder, following the homicide at Balaclava Street and West 23rd Avenue.
If the unidentified woman is, in fact, the man’s mother, this would be the second high profile case Matricide in the Vancouver/Vancouver Island area in less than four months. Matricide is the specific term used for the killing of one’s mother.
Although Vancouver Police have not yet identified the victim of the homicide, the home is registered to the suspect’s mother, Barbara Whitlock. CBC news reported Sunday that neighbours believe the man arrested was the victim’s son. It is expected that the identity of the victim will be confirmed at the man’s court appearance on Monday.
In 2012, Mr. Whitlock received a 60 day sentence for beating his German Shepard, “Captain”, with a baseball bat, and leaving him to die in a Vancouver dumpster. During sentencing, Mr. Whitlock’s lawyer noted that Mr. Whitlock suffered from psychosis, and that he was subsequently diagnosed with Schizophrenia.
Less than 4 months ago a matricide occurred in Sooke, B.C. Pamela Dyer’s body was found in her Sooke home on July 20, 2014. Ms. Dyer’s son, Michael McCormick was charged with her murder on September 17, 2014.
Dr. Kathleen Heide Ph.D., Criminologist and expert in the field of Parricide (killing of one’s parent), has identified four main themes in the offenders in these kinds of cases: 1. The Severely Abused, 2. The Mentally Ill, 3. The Dangerously AntiSocial, and 4. Underlying Anger Fueled by Alcohol and Drugs (Understanding Parricide, 2013).
Both these accused had mental health issues that were identified during sentencing hearings for prior criminal offenses. Neither has pled guilty, or been found guilty, of their second-degree murder charges.
Parricide is a relatively rare phenomenon. It is estimated that only 3.7% of all homicides in Canada (from 1991-1997) were committed by family members (Fedorowycz, 1999 L’homicide au Canada—1998 Juristat, 19, 1-15).
Help is available for families experiencing violence and/or mental health issues. Not only are police and ambulance available through calling 9-1-1, but mental health assistance is also available to residents of Vancouver Island through the following contacts:
Vancouver Island Crisis Line 1-888-494-3888
Suicide Hotline: 1-800-suicide
BC Canadian Mental Health Association www.victoria.cmha.bc.ca
BC Public Health www.healthlinkbc.ca
BC Alcohol and Drug Info Referral Service: 1-800-663-1441
Your Family Doctor
Your Local Emergency Department