When Homeschoolers Turn Violent: Matthew Liewald

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Series note: “When Homeschoolers Turn Violent” is a joint research project by Homeschoolers Anonymous and Homeschooling’s Invisible Children. Please see the Introduction for detailed information about the purpose and scope of the project.

Trigger warning: If you experience triggers from descriptions of physical and sexual violence, please know that the details in many of the cases are disturbing and graphic.

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Matthew Liewald

On September 26, 2011, 15-year-old Matthew Liewald called 911. The North Carolina teenager said he shot his father and stepmother.

On September 26, 2011, 15-year-old Matthew Liewald (center) shot his father and stepmother to death.

On September 26, 2011, 15-year-old Matthew Liewald (center) shot his father and stepmother to death.

Matthew was being homeschooled by his father, 43-year-old Christian Hans Liewald. Christian called the homeschool “Liewald Alternative School.” Christian was married to 24-year-old Cassie Meghan Buckaloo.  According to neighbors, “Matt rarely came out of the house and the family kept to themselves.” Christian, Matthew, and Cassie were “beloved members” of Morningstar United Methodist Church, according to their church’s pastor. The pastor described Christian and Cassie as “generous and loving.”

Matthew’s birth mother, however, described Christian as “hyper controlling and wouldn’t allow her to see her friends.” Christian had several prior wives, all of whom said they “suffer physical abuse” at his hands. Matthew himself said he “was afraid of his father,” was physically abused, and forcefully confined to his room. He had wanted to run away from his home, but his father allegedly told him that, if he ever ran away, he “would find him.” In 2007, Matthew personally witnessed his father shoot his neighbor in the chest during an argument.

On the day of the murders, Matthew waited until his father and stepmother came home and then ambushed them. He shot Cassie 8 times and Christian 4 times. He then called 911 and said he needed help, refusing at first to say why and hanging up. He then called 911 a second time, saying that he had shot his parents. He told the police that he would be “sitting on a nearby street corner waiting for officers to arrive.”

Matthew was charged with two counts of murder, armed robbery, and attempted auto theft. He pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 300 to 378 months in prison.

View the case index here.

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