profilers point to possible motives in child murders
By BRITTNEY BOOTH
The Brownsville Herald
March 16, 2003
It's the question that's resonated throughout Brownsville since Tuesday as
the community tries to comprehend one of the bloodiest crimes in the city's
John Allen Rubio, 22, and Angela Camacho, 23, allegedly killed and
decapitated their three children - Julissa Angela Quezada, 3, John Esthefan
Rubio, 1, and 2 month-old Mary Jane Rubio - on Monday in a tiny downtown
apartment. The bodies were not discovered until Tuesday.
The couple is charged with three counts of capital murder each and are being
held without bond.
Though the common law husband and wife allegedly confessed to the crime,
police have not said what prompted the grisly murders but did say the
killings were not part of a sacrificial act.
A relative who did not want to be identified told The Brownsville Herald on
Friday that Rubio had told family members that the "devil had been talking
to him" for months and he reportedly heard his deceased relatives speaking
from the children.
And while police aren't revealing many details saying they do not want to
jeopardize the investigation, there are only a few possible motives, said
Brent Turvey, a forensic scientist and criminal profiler who consults law
enforcement and lawyers in similar cases. He's based in Alaska.
"I've never seen a case where the police did not announce immediately what
the motive was. It's not difficult to determine," he said.
However, deriving a logical reason to commit such a crime is a more arduous
"What they really mean by (no motive) is they don't know why parents would
kill their children - that's the moral disgust they are displaying," he
Turvey suspects the young couple, who reportedly did not have steady income,
may not have been able to handle the financial burden of three children and
were desperate to alleviate their fiscal responsibility.
"You can't overlook overwhelming financial burden as a contributing issue
here," Turvey said, adding that perhaps one or both parents were mentally
ill and misinterpreted deep religious convictions.
Turvey has been involved with cases where parents killed their children
mistakenly believing they were possessed by demons, though it's not a very
convincing motive, he said.
"Is that their excuse or did they really believe it?" he said.
And as gruesome as decapitation is, Turvey calls it "functional behavior,
common in domestic homicides when trying to get rid of the body. Law
enforcement stumbled across this in the process of disposing the body."
But another expert said the mutilation might indicate occult involvement.
"I've got some concerns because a lot of the occult related crimes have to
do with mutilation of bodies in some form," said Gregory Reid, who heads the
Cult Research and Crime Consultants in El Paso and has assisted law
enforcement with cult-related crimes that have occurred in the Rio Grande
Both experts believe that if there were an occult connection, the police
would likely find evidence in their home like jewelry, books or other
religious items. Police aren't releasing such details.
Drugs also could have been involved, they said.
Both Reid and Turvey point to a case they say is somewhat similar.
Andrea Yates, the Texas woman who was convicted for drowning her five
children one year ago, claimed she was mentally unstable due to postpartum
depression. Camacho gave birth to Mary Jane in early January; it could be
she suffered the same illness.
"For a mother to do this is extraordinary," Reid said. "For a mother to
cross that boundary and emotionally disconnect from her own children almost
borders on evil."
While police said both parents had a role in decapitating their children,
the experts said it's likely one took a leadership role and the other
followed in fidelity.
"What you don't have is two people saying, 'Let's kill the children tonight.
' That's very unlikely," Turvey said.
The pair were reportedly calm when detained by police Tuesday.
But Turvey said they were likely in shock or emotionally withdrawn.
"They made a very harsh decision roundly criticized by every other human on
the planet; their response is going to be shame and silence," he said. "The
reaction seems consistent with people that just killed their children. They
can be completely withdrawn."
To determine the real motivation, Turvey said investigators have to look
closely at what he calls the "back story" or "victimology."
Events leading up to the crime need to be examined - court and hospital
records, religious beliefs, discipline and their own childhood - to fully
understand what happened, he said.
Turvey calls the behavior "psychopathic" because of the cold and
"Psychopaths are capable to do things most people aren't," he said. "It
could also be they thought they were doing the right thing out of religious
beliefs or mental health."
Reid pointed out that relatives who saw Rubio at the arraignment commented
that he "was like a different person."
"Something happened to precipitate this if people who knew him said he was
such a nice person and all the sudden he's totally altered," he said.
"Something happened and that's the missing piece."
Still, Reid said in some cases there are no answers.
"When you get to something this blatant, you get to the point that you can't
analyze this," he said. "You have to face the facts that some people have
given themselves over to evil."