Things I will never, ever understand

I can understand people flying into a murderous rage because of anger or jealousy or a whole range of factors that arouse strong passions in someone who does not have proper self control. I can understand them killing the object of their anger and even themselves. Yes, these things are inexcusable but not beyond the bounds of comprehension.

But I don’t think I will ever understand something like this.

Ten-year-old Sara Levy and her 11-year-old brother Yishai were stabbed to death by their Israeli father on June 11 at the moshav in Israel where he lived, just hours after arriving there from America to visit him.

The two children lived in Columbus, Ohio with their mother, Karen Cowgill-Levy, but visited their father twice each year as part of their parents’ divorce agreement.

Her ex-husband reported the murders to police and admitted committing them.

His motive for the killings allegedly was to take revenge on his ex-wife.

What kind of person kills his own children to take revenge on their mother? But unfortunately one reads case after case of people who have separated from their partners and lost custody of their children, killing the children just in order to punish the partner.

But the world is full of people who abuse and even their own children thinking it will advance some perverse goal, like this mother who is charged with deliberately making her son ill and finally killing him so that she could generate posts on her blog and sympathy for herself.


  1. says

    A person willing to kill others for the effect on a third party is able to do so because they see people as tools and not persons. Looking back in history there are plenty of examples of cultures that consider wives and children to be the property of husbands. I’m sure there are examples that consider the mothers to be owners of children somewhere as well, and there are examples of mothers doing this to get back and ex-husbands.

    I don’t think that it’s so surprising or hard to imagine. If people can make others into objects based on race, politics, and religion, why not family structure as well? If it’s in the realm of human psychological possibility to think that it’s right and proper to own someone of another race why not your spouse and children? It’s the same emotional reaction as the child that is not happy with how a situation turns out so they decide to do something so that no one is happy. Maybe deeper down they are hoping that if the other person is also miserable they will decide that they made the wrong choice. Sort of a “you made me do this”.

  2. Kevin Kehres says

    They weren’t “humans” to him — they were his property to be disposed of as he saw fit.

    As to the other — the woman was clearly mentally ill with a rare syndrome called Munchausen by Proxy. I was a colleague with someone who was something of an expert in this area. Classic presentation. Thankfully rare; but really, really difficult to diagnose and even more difficult to treat. Primarily because the sufferers refuse treatment and often abscond to other locations to avoid treatment.

  3. Who Cares says

    To me it is very simple. The people who do this see the person(s) they kill as, their, property. And then they go: “I can’t have them so you can’t have them either”.

  4. soogeeoh says

    But do they do it – i.e. objectify fellow human beings – just like so, in a vacuum?

  5. John Horstman says

    I can’t really internalize the sentiment, but given how very many parents really do – implicitly or explicitly – consider their children to be their property and not actual people, I’m not that shocked. This is only a more extreme expression of the same sentiments that give us things like parents insisting their children not dress certain ways or making them take piano lessons (or other activities that the kids themselves don’t really want to do) or “my house, my rules” or purity balls or the intense gender-policing to which many children are subject.

  6. says

    I guess it’s a lack of an implicit recognition that spouses and children are or will be their own people independent of oneself. It’s understandable that parents would want their children to be like them in many ways. But some people take even small impersonal differences as a challenge to them and their order.
    There is a level at which some folks want to control other people just to have control. It’s like there was this point where they thought they had to decide between persuasion and domination instead of learning both and when to use them.

  7. busterggi says

    Its bibilcally sound. The children spent time with their mother against his wishes, no matter if it was determined by a court, they disobeyed him. Of course he should have stoned them to death rather than stabbing them but you have to allow a little leeway about biblical literacy.

  8. John Morales says

    @5 & 8,
    “But do they do it – i.e. objectify fellow human beings – just like so, in a vacuum?”
    “[It’s] [Biblically] sound.”

    Indeed there is such a tradition and it is Biblically sound — cf. the book of Job in the Bible, where Job’s children are understood to be a replaceable possession.

  9. Jehan Atkinson says

    There’s no excuse for murdering kids like that. If the mother had shafted him in the divorce – an extremely common thing in the US of A, where divorce laws are slanted completely towards the woman – then one would understand him killing her. But not the kids.

  10. lorn says

    Rationality is not the default position of human behavior.

    It is the turtle brain that often runs things.

  11. Jonny Vincent says

    For many reduced humans, children aren’t real people so much as pawns bred for utility or disposal, to serve a function, play a role or used as leverage in personal spats.

    Till Death Do Us Part was their vow so it sounds like murder-by-proxy. It’s not like children are real people, just extensions or accessories. This is no world for children.


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