When Homeschoolers Turn Violent: Ben Simpson

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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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Ben Simpson

When he was 18 years old, Ben Simpson shot both of his parents multiple times, killing his father and seriously injuring his mother.

Ben Simpson's violent attack on his parents was featured in Kathleen M. Heide's book "Understanding Parricide: When Sons and Daughters Kill Parents."

Ben Simpson’s violent attack on his parents was featured in Kathleen M. Heide’s book “Understanding Parricide: When Sons and Daughters Kill Parents.”

Growing up, Ben had only one friend — a neighborhood kid named Jim. The two boys were friends for over 10 years. Ben also had only one girlfriend, and they dated for a mere 2 or 3 months. They broke up 10 months prior to the attack. Ben enjoyed outdoors activities, particularly swimming and going mudding. A family friend described Ben as “a typical teenager, a good kid” who was “never mean or nasty with his parents.” His parents were described by friends as “loving and devoted parents.” Ben attended public school until the 6th grade. After he had to repeat the 6th grade due to attention deficit disorder, however, his mother took “the time to home-school Ben” for the rest of his education.

At the age of 16, Ben began drinking. His drinking became heavy: he would consume Jack Daniels and beer alone on a daily basis. His mother “knew that Ben drank,” but never suggested to him that he had a problem. Ben also occasionally used a number of drugs, including cocaine, acid, and LSD. However, Ben never ran into trouble with the law; he was never in any gangs and he had no prior arrests as a juvenile or adult.

At the age of 17, Ben decided to learn auto mechanics so he enrolled in a vocational school. However, he had difficulty doing “the book work and the reading,” since he had “trouble focusing.” It has also been noted that Ben never “learned how to tolerate frustration and solve his problems” because his parents “over-indulged their son and tried to right his wrongs.”

On the day of the attack, Ben was distraught because his vehicle had been trashed by some people during a mudding event. His parents were “mad” and “disgusted” at him because they had specifically prohibited him from taking his vehicle to the event. Ben, however, denied personal involvement. He got “severely intoxicated” and went out with a shotgun and ammunition. When he returned him, he was still in a “delusional and enraged state” and proceeded to shoot his own parents. In a later interview it was revealed that he “had little memory of events surrounding the homicidal incident.” Ben’s father died several days after the attack. His mother, however, was able to recover, though it took several months.

Ben was charged with “capital murder in connection with the death of his father” and “attempted first-degree murder with respect to his mother.” Ben’s case was noted for its significance because “it does not fit into one of the three basic types of parricide offenders: he does not fit the profile of the severely abused child, the dangerously antisocial child, or the mentally ill child.”

View the case index here.

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