I’m working on a poetry manuscript and I wanted to share one of my poems with you. This is a poetic form called the List Poem and the form has a respectable history, having been used by ancient Greek poets, Biblical scripture, Walt Whitman, and Alan Ginsberg, among many others.

Content note: murdered Autistics, murdered children.

Mercy(less) Killings: A List Poem
Maxfield Sparrow

“A person with a disability is killed by their parent or other caregiver approximately every week.”1

At least 72 disabled people were killed by their parents or caregivers in the year 20132
These were the Autistics slain:

  1. Brandon White3 – smothered with a pillow by his mother’s boyfriend, age 15 years.
  2. Tia Jones4 – slow death from neglect and multiple untreated infections, age 12 years.
  3. Jessie Dziomba5 – days of severe diarrhea with no medical attention, age 19 years.
  4. Isabella Wiens6 – removed from a non-abusive mother with a learning disability then abused to death in foster care, age 21 months.
  5. Girl Child Seo7 – strangled by her mother, age 4 years.
  6. Alex Spourdalakis8 – stabbed in the heart by his mother, age 14 years.
  7. Robert Guinyard, Jr.9 – beaten to death with a metal rod by his father, age 4 years.
  8. Terry “JuJu” Smith, Jr.10 – killed by his step-brother and buried in the family’s backyard, age 11 years.
  9. Matthew Hafer11 – given an intentional prescription drug overdose by his mother, age 28 years.
  10. Jake Harkins12 – shot by his father, age 10 years.
  11. Jaelen Edge13 – poisoned and drowned by his mother, age 13 years.
  12. Tamiyah Audain14 – starved and had infections neglected by her aunt, age 12 years.
  13. Antonio Brooks15 – his father neglected medical care while Antonio slowly died from a ruptured stomach, age 14 years.
  14. Damiean “Luke” Gulley16 – strangled by his step-father who hid his body in a ravine, age 14 years.
  15. Randle Barrow17 – drowned by his mother, age 8 years.
  16. David Herrerra, Jr.18 – burned alive by his sister for the insurance money, age 22 years.




  1. Perry, David. “Ruderman White Paper: Media Coverage of the Murder of People with Disabilities by Their Caregivers.” Issuu, Ruderman Family Foundation, Mar. 2017, issuu.com/rudermanfoundation/docs/murders_by_caregivers_wp_final_fina. Page 6.
  2. “2013 Deaths.” Disability Day of Mourning, disability-memorial.org/2013-deaths.
  3. Hutchins, Ethan. “Man Sentenced to 90 Years for Denison Teen’s Murder.” Texoma News, Weather, Sports | KXII News 12, www.kxii.com/home/headlines/911-call-helps-convict-Robert-Gray-Jr-of-murder-265783951.html.
  4. Shaffer, Cory. “Ohio Supreme Court Will Decide If 10-Year Prison Sentence Too Long for Parents Convicted of Letting Sick Child Die.” Cleveland.com, Cleveland.com, 12 Sept. 2018, www.cleveland.com/court-justice/index.ssf/2018/09/ohio_supreme_court_will_decide_1.html.
  5. Michel, Lou. “How Did Jessie Die?” The Buffalo News, The Buffalo News, 27 July 2013, buffalonews.com/2013/07/27/how-did-jessie-die/.
  6. Kane, Laura. “B.C. Mother Sues Province after Infant Daughter Dies in Foster Care.” CTVNews, 25 Mar. 2015, www.ctvnews.ca/canada/b-c-mother-sues-province-after-infant-daughter-dies-in-foster-care-1.2297457#.
  7. “Korean Mother Kills Her Autistic Child, Gets 3 Years in Prison.” Korean Mother Kills Her Autistic Child, Gets 3 Years in Prison – KoreaBANG, www.koreabang.com//2013/stories/korean-mother-kills-her-autistic-child-gets-3-years-in-prison.html.
  8. WFLD. “Suburban Mom Admits to Stabbing Autistic Son to Death.” WFLD, www.fox32chicago.com/news/crime/suburban-mom-admits-to-stabbing-autistic-son-to-death.
  9. Jamie. “Exclusive – Robert Guinyard’s Life and Death in SC’s Child Welfare System.” Thestate, The State, www.thestate.com/news/politics-government/politics-columns-blogs/the-buzz/article13876415.html.
  10. “Terry Smith Jr. – The Strange, Sad Story of a Murdered 11 Year Old Boy in Menifee, California.” Sott.net, www.sott.net/article/263989-Terry-Smith-Jr-The-strange-sad-story-of-a-murdered-11-year-old-boy-in-Menifee-California.
  11. Cullen, Natalie. “Woman Arrested For Murder in Son’s Death.” LASVEGASNOW, LASVEGASNOW, 31 July 2013, www.lasvegasnow.com/news/woman-arrested-for-murder-in-sons-death/72405028.
  12. “Memorial Dedicated at NE Phila. School to Autistic Boy Who Died.” CBS Philly, CBS Philly, 2 Apr. 2014, philadelphia.cbslocal.com/2014/04/02/memorial-dedicated-at-ne-phila-school-to-autistic-boy-who-died/.
  13. KABC. “Mother Sentenced to Life in Prison for Murder of 2 Kids in Santa Ana.” ABC7 Los Angeles, 9 Jan. 2016, abc7.com/news/mother-sentenced-to-life-in-prison-for-murder-of-2-kids-in-santa-ana/1152156/.
  14. CBS. “Report: Questions Arise For Child Welfare Workers After Death Of 12-Year-Old.” CBS Miami, CBS Miami, 27 Sept. 2013, miami.cbslocal.com/2013/09/27/report-questions-arise-for-child-welfare-workers-after-death-of-12-year-old/.
  15. Speed, Ashley K. “Hampton Man Pleads in Autistic Son’s Death.” Dailypress.com, 25 Aug. 2015, www.dailypress.com/news/crime/dp-nws-plea-manslaughter-20150826-story.html.
  16. Peres, Jessica, and Corin Hoggard. “Stepfather Arrested for the Murder of Damiean Gulley.” ABC30 Fresno, abc30.com/archive/9341176/.
  17. “Police Say Autistic Child Was Murdered by His Mother.” Quadcitiesdaily.com, 16 Dec. 2013, quadcitiesdaily.com/?p=140932&utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=police-say-autistic-child-was-murdered-by-his-mother.
  18. Malik, Alia. “Police: Woman Set Fire That Killed Her Brother.” San Antonio Express-News, Express-News, 22 May 2014, www.mysanantonio.com/news/local/article/Police-Woman-set-fire-that-killed-her-brother-5495449.php#photo-5620559.