abnormalities in the vanilla world · crime and punishment · forensics

Foster Families Instill Fear and Failure – Part II

The tragic tale of Larry Joseph Swartz, beginning in 1991, came to an end in 2005 when Swartz died at the age of 37 ,after he  served a 9- year sentence for brutally murdering his adoptive parents, at the age of 17. Swartz’s story begins in the foster system until he was adopted at the age of 6 by Robert and Kay Swartz. At first, Larry was doted upon. Then, Michael Swartz joined the family and in spite of his rebellious behaviour, Mike became Frank and Kay Swartz’s favourite son.  watch what can parents do to keep from having favorites among their children

Added to this was Robert and Kay’s very religious, disciplinary nature. There were harsh scoldings, physical abuse and constant criticism of both boys. Although Larry managed to escape the beatings, he was a target of harsh criticism. No matter what either boy did, they could never please their parents. Robert and Kay wanted their sons to excel academically. Mike was naturally bright, but his grades dropped and he became a problem student, displaying sudden outbursts of temper and impulsive behaviour.  Larry on the other hand was a special needs student who suffered from several learning disabilities. Larry behaved well at school and at home and soon he became the favourite son, usurping his stepbrother. watch bradshaw story on shaming children

One night he asked them if he could go and see a few of his friends. The answer was no, so Michael decided to sneak out of the house. When he returned home around 10 p.m., he discovered that he was locked out. After knocking failed to get his parents to unlock the door, he began to yell. Finally, Kay opened the window and informed Michael that he could no longer come home. The following day she reported him as a runaway to a social worker. Michael was placed in a foster home. As far as the Swartzs were concerned, Michael was no longer their son. Larry could not believe that his parents had disowned Michael. It angered him that a parent could just throw out their child, and, understandably, it caused him to feel severely insecure. watch john bradshaw – homecoming

Arguments between Larry and his parents became a regular occurrence. He was often grounded and only permitted to go to school, church and attend his wrestling matches and soccer events. Socializing with friends was restricted and when he did manage to go on a date, they were always critical of the girls he asked out. Larry also began hiding liquor in his bedroom and often got drunk after fleeing to his room after a fight with his parents. The night of January 16, 1984, seemed typical of many other nights in the Swartzs’ home. First, Kay and Larry had a disagreement about a girl Larry had taken out a date. Shortly after that argument ended, Bob became furious with Larry for messing with his computer which destroyed some work he had completed. watch dysfunctional families and the shame cycle

The following morning, at around 7 a.m., Larry contacted 9-1-1 for help. Larry was very composed as he led the emergency people into the house.  First  they found Bob’s body, which was lying inside a small basement office. He was covered in blood and had several gash marks on his chest and arms. Next, they found Kay’s body in the backyard. She was nude except for one foot with a sock on it. It appeared that she was partially scalped and her neck had several deep lacerations. Larry was quick to implicate his brother Michael as a suspect. He told the detectives that Michael hated his parents since the time that they forbid him to return to their home. The detectives were suspicious of his attempt to make Michael look like a suspect. watch trailer the kids punch back

Three days after his parents’ funeral, Larry confessed to his lawyers that he was the killer. He described the events prior to the attack. Larry told them about an argument with his mother about a girl he took on a date and about fighting with his father over the computer. He said he went to his bedroom then he went downstairs and passed by his mother who was watching television. Larry picked up a wood-splitting maul and smashed it over Kay’s head. He stabbed her multiple times around the neck with a kitchen knife. Robert came to see what was going on and Larry plunged a knife into his chest. He stabbed Robert around his chest and heart multiple times. Once they were dead, Larry busied himself trying to make it look like a crime that was committed by Michael. watch child abuse documentary

Larry was arrested and charged with two counts of first-degree murder. His bail was set at $200,000. On the day before Larry’s trial was to begin, his lawyers and the prosecutor reached a plea bargain. The judge showed compassion when speaking of the troubles that went on in the Swartzs’ home and that although Larry appeared normal, that the court-ordered psychological testing that he had gone through showed that he was in great need of treatment. He sentenced Larry to two concurrent 20-year sentences and suspended 12 years from each. Larry was released in 1993 after serving nine years in prison. He moved to Florida, married and had a child. In December 2004, at the age of 37, Larry had a heart attack and died. watch NBC: a family torn apart

The case was the inspiration behind the best-selling book, “Sudden Fury: A True Story of Adoption and Murder”.  In addition to the book, there was a 1993 television movie based on the murders, “A Family Torn Apart,” which starred Neil Patrick Harris of “Doogie Howser, M.D.” as Larry Swartz. Michael Swartz continued to get into trouble and at the age of 25, he was given a life sentence without the possibility of parole, for participating in robbing and murdering a man. watch sudden fury: a family torn apart

8 thoughts on “Foster Families Instill Fear and Failure – Part II

  1. You are very lightly forgetting about all of the cases when these things do not happen, or when they do happen in non-foster families…

    1. In part I of my foster family articles, the last 2 paragraphs state that not all foster families are unkind….also you are right that real families can be terribly abusive but that was not the focus of my blogs. Thank you for reading and responding.

  2. After I initially left a comment I seem to have clicked the -Notify me when new comments are
    added- checkbox and from now on every time a comment is added I recieve 4 emails with
    the exact same comment. Perhaps there is a way you
    can remove me from that service? Cheers!

    1. Hi i can’t do that but you can. Go into Settings in your blog. Under Discussion go into the Email section. It offers a list of options including notify me whenever there are responses (or some such thing) to this subject (or what have you). Check the box to remove the check mark and save changes.

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