My final thoughts on the Kelli Stapleton Tragedy

I’m not sure if this will make any sense but it was all stuck in my head and I needed to share this before trying to go to sleep.

I’ve been reading all these posts by bloggers around the internet and other people just wanting to sharing their opinion on the how’s and why’s Kelli Stapleton tried to murder her daughter Izzy and then herself. While I in no way shape or form, either support or agree with what Kelli Stapleton did to her daughter, I’m saddened by all the hate I’m reading.

Just so we’re very, very, very clear. What Kelli did is unforgivable and without question, she should be held accountable.

Having said that, I’ve read some truly awful things online this evening. It appears that many people are making this about Autism and feel it should be a hate crime. I just don’t get it. I haven’t known Kelli Stapleton very long and we’ve only ever talked a few times but she has been one of my readers for awhile.

What I know about her is that she very clearly loved Izzy. She went to the ends of the earth for her daughter. I have a hard time believing that this had anything to do with hate or the fact that her daughter had Autism. The truth is that none of this makes any sense whatsoever.

I almost feel as though there are certain groups out there that are almost exploiting this tragedy for their own personal agenda.

While I won’t single anyone out, I will say that I had been very publicly attacked by some of these groups because I advocate for my children and am not Autistic myself.

They are trying to make this about parents hating their Autistic children . They believe these parents are selfish and that they should just love there kids with Autism, not murder them. While I completely agree that we should love our Autistic children and under no circumstances is it okay to murder your child, Autism or not, I don’t think this is what is happening.

The way I see things is that these tragedies are more about parents that have been pushed so far that something in them just breaks and they commit unspeakable atrocities. It has nothing to do with a child having Autism in and of itself.

It has everything to do with a situation that is so out of control and with isolation, lack of support, chronic stress and exhaustion, these parents just snap and do something that is very likely completely out of character for them.

My hope is that Izzy will be okay and that we all learn something from this horrific tragedy.

Again, just so we are crystal clear. There is absolutely no justification for what Kelli did and she will have to face the consequences for her actions.

When I look at this situation, I feel like we know what she did but not why she did it.
The whyis what I worry about because this was the last thing I ever thought would happen. Everything I’ve seen over the last few months was a dedicated mother, doing everything she could to help her daughter. What happened to drive her to this?

What really scares me most is that I wonder how many more people are heading down the same road without even knowing it?

I mean, everyone has their limits. As parents to children with Autism, we face unbelievable challenges, knowing full well that we will never have a “normal” life. I think that most of us embrace that because we love our kids so much that nothing matters, aside from giving our kids the very best chance at life.

At the same time, we pay a very high price. The amount of stress, fear, chronic sleep deprivation, depression, exhaustion, lack of support, isolation, loss of friends/family and ware and tear on our bodies and minds is something that most people could never understand.

There’s a reason that they say Autism parents endure the same kind of stress as combat soldiers.

It’s not easy……

Does this justify trying to murder your child? Hell no it doesn’t. What it does is make me wonder where that breaking point is.

At what point does an otherwise, seemingly loving parent decide to do the unthinkable?

Could this happen to any of us? Is there a point in which you simply lose your mind and just sorta break? I think that this is something we really need to focus on as a community. We need to be able to recognize the warning signs, whatever those are and step in before something like this happens again..

What I’ve learned from this is that we need more support for our special needs parents. I think that we need to take time for ourselves because if we don’t, we can’t be the best parents we can be.

We need to learn to be a little selfish. We need to learn to at least on occasion, make ourselves a priority.

Most importantly, we need to be there for each other. If we ever find ourselves in a place where we are going to snap, we have to remove ourselves and let someone else take over or step in.

Anyway, these are my thoughts on the tragedy and I just wanted to share them with all of you.. I don’t think that I’ll talk about this anymore because I’ve said my piece and I doubt that anything positive and can come from continuing to rehash this.

I will continue to keep Izzy and her family in my thoughts and prayers.

Rob Gorski

Full time, work from home single Dad to my 3 amazing boys. Oh...and creator fo this blog. :-)
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Raynette Jones

i actually had a social worker ask me after a real tough day with my kid in the hospital (it was the worst) as i was leaving “are you coming back” she meant like in EVER. apparantly people just leave their kids at the hospital a lot when they really might die and it gets really really hard. So these social workers and other professionals know there is a breaking point and have undoubtly witnessed it so they know it happens. I was shaken to the core because the last thing i would do would to be to leave my son. My opinion about Kellie was she was mentally ill and just couldnt take it anymore. i am not excusing her because you dont kill your kid, you really have to walk away before that point, I may be mistaken but I think she was catholic and knowing that if she killed herself (not her kid) she would go straight to hell, her kid would be in heaven. the drs are all saying that this stress on caregivers are making our brains chemically change. you could be crazy or doing crazy things and not know it. we know she blamed herself and hell is the worst that could happen to you since that would be her enternity and she thought she deserved the worst as she blamed herself because she suposedly didnt do the right things raising Izzy. AGAIN THE PROFESSIONALS KNOW PEOPLE HAVE A BREAKING POINT. these drs had to know.

Raynette Jones

that person was just trying to rile everyone up. if she knew anything about munchausen by proxy there is a new name out there for it Fabricated or Induced Illness by Carers (FII) which to me is bullshit and should just be called child abuse because that is what it is. FII is a very dangerous group of words to be throwing around when we have sick kids that the drs cant figure out what is wrong. that is a lot of work to get attention. if i didnt have to see another dr again in my life i would love it just as others that have sick kids would love not to go to the dr.

Lin Benfield

Rob, I finally just had to stop reading posts like these from Missmensa. These persons have not walked in your shoes, my shoes or Kelli’s shoes. They are enjoying dirty laundry and are obviously using your blog to promote their own agenda. I know Kelli, I know Issy and I have read your blog. Some children with Autism do very well and require less. Others not so much. You know…some days are a piece of cake, others are from a horror movie. Apparently there is no empathy in this case.

Yajamalu Charity

I am with you on this. Must people dont want to see the truth in others, cause they are very afraid of it. I have seeing so many story’s like this one and yes, it has nothing to do with a kid being sick. It has to be with suffering so much that u don’t see hopes no more and just want to end the suffering u see every day in your kids. U want them happy, so many parents who really love their kids gets to this point of making everything better for them. Yeap, no everyone hate their kids. U also see this on animals. Is hard to see. I dont want to get to that braking point at all. So many parents really needs support on dealing with their own life. Is not easy and not everyone is that strong. I thought about it my self, what i will do, if i see my kids suffering to and endless pain? We really need to relax more and worry less, to make our brain more healthy. Is by letting go of things we cant fix. And maybe try again when we are strong enough to handle it.


please understand I’m not saying you have it easy or that any parent has it easy.  I’m saying that I don’t think this woman had it hard.  Her husband supported the family, always.  The insurance was excellent.  The community was very supportive.  The caregivers were available and the cost was covered.  The care facility was paid for for an eight month stay.  The list is long of why I don’t believe her claims of how rough she had it.  I think to buy into her what I refer to as the martyr routine is doing a disservice to parents who really do have it hard and her story is not the one to help with public awareness considering she allegedly planned out and acted toward attempting to murder her daughter.


Lost and Tired  missmensa JenniferWhynott when you say she was a violent and dangerous child well, this is what i think.  just my opinion, but i don’t believe it and here’s why…  first of all she had never shown any aggressive tendencies until exactly one day after her mother proclaimed out loud for all to hear how happy she was that their daughter did not ‘have that kind’ of behavior, referring to any aggressive behaviors.  She did well in the normal school setting through the fifth or sixth grade.  that’s a lot of years of not showing ANY aggressive behaviors, outbursts, or tendencies.  Think about this very carefully, consider the cases in the news of violent kids, consider her mom saying out loud how thankful she was.  Then one day later the mom began reporting she was violent.  The episodes were supposedly only when the mom and daughter were there.  She had violence toward her mom only, we are told.  Next, take a close look at the video she posted of her daughter supposedly beating on her.  She stands there with the camera rolling crying like a small child who just lost his bicycle, she cries, and cries, and cries, and then the daughter comes up and supposedly swings at her though it’s hard to see their actions due to the angle of the camera.  The mom screams hysterically and the video clip stops suddenly.  I’m rather curious what happened b/f the video started and why it ended so suddenly.
Just my theory for what it’s worth, I think the mom was abusive and neglectful to her daughter and I think the mom probably has Munchausen by Proxy where the abusive parent abuses, neglects, and harms their child in order to get attention for themselves.  That’s why I say I don’t think this case is about autism one bit.  I think the autism and the child’s inability to communicate what may have been happening to her behind closed doors was what made the Munchausen by Proxy syndrome difficult to detect.  Furthermore, the mother was advised by the professionals five years ago to get the help SHE needed as they tried to point out that the problem was not the daughter as she kept saying but the problem seemed to be the mother.  She seemed to blow them off which would fit with my theory she has Munchausen by Proxy syndrome.

Lost and Tired

missmensa Lost and Tired  JenniferWhynott wow… I don’t think anyone here thinks that Kelli Stapleton shouldn’t be punished for what she did.  If it’s life in prison or a psychiatric hospital, so be it.  There are consequences for her actions and she must pay the price.  
Not taking into account the circumstances surrounding this is a mistake.  Izzy was definitely the victim of this particular situation but she was also a violent and dangerous child.  
This is for a jury to decide, not us.

Lost and Tired

JenniferWhynott missmensa Meaghan1985 @Valerie Wiley @Donna Holland chefaimee rosie d Dwayne Murphy @Gilda M Sanchez 
@missmensa while I respect your opinion and I certainly agree that what she did is absolutely inexcusable, I have to wonder why you feel she had it easy.  Are you a special needs parent? If you’re not and even if you are, you need to remember that everyone’s experience is relative.  To stand back and say that she had it easy is honestly pretty arrogant. 
Have you been physically abused and put in the hospital as a result of your child?  Izzy was very dangerous and I can’t even begin to imagine what it was like to live in that house.  I would imagine constant fear would be pretty accurate.  I know what that’s like… 
We have to remember that when we make assumptions about someone’s situation, without having walked in their shoes, we can almost never have an accurate picture of what’s going on.  
What Kelli Stapleton did to Izzy is absolutely unacceptable. There’s no debate about that, at least as far as I’m concerned.  I do take issue with this attitude though because that’s something that hurts many other families out there, including mine.  
Much of society can’t even begin to imagine what my life is like. I’m caring for 3 special needs kids, one with very fragile health and a wife who’s chronically ill and getting worse.  We’re on Medicaid and food stamps.  Does that mean our life is easy? Not by a long shot. 

I love my family with all my heart but every day of my life is a struggle to survive.  There is nothing about my life that’s easy. There are tons of other families out there that are in similar situations and to sit back and even pretend to know what they are going through, without being in their shoes is grossly negligent and very irresponsible.  
What Kelli did was horrific and unforgivable. Assuming that her life was easy and that saying Autism had nothing to do with this tragedy, is irresponsible as well.


Lost and Tired  JenniferWhynott Why is it that when someone disagrees with others then they’re accused of not being compassionate.  Don’t you see that those of us who think she should be convicted and sentenced to the fullest extent of the law that we are full of compassion for the victim in this case who is clearly not the mom.  The victim in this case is the daughter.  In my opinion, this case has nothing to do with autism and appears to have everything to do with a woman who probably figured she could con the police as easily as she seems to have conned her community for th elast five years.


@Valerie Wiley Do you really believe she was planning on suicide?  Wow.  If so then why was she able to be so verbal in the emergency room while her daughter took many days to recover?  I don’t believe she planned on killing herself.  I think she planned on being around to continue playing the martyr role.  Read up on Munchausen by Proxy Syndrome.  In my opinion the mom was abusive and neglectful of her daughter and used her daughter’s autism to get the attention for herself that she seemed to crave.  Listen to the radio interview from five years ago.  This doesn’t seem to be a case where a person ‘snapped’, it appears more to be a case where the person allegedly planned out how to murder her daughter.


Lost and Tired  chefaimee read about Munchausen by Proxy, it’s when a mom abuses, neglects, and causes harm to her child in order to be the center of attention.


chefaimee Moms who love their daughters don’t try to murder them.


there are twenty four hours in the day for everyone, whether you’re a mom or dad to special needs kids or five kids, three kids, even just one, or perhaps a person who is caring for an elderly parent, or dealing with a serious disease.  Personally, I raised my three children as a single mom since my youngest was still in diapers.  Kelli Stapleton had it easy compared to most working moms.  Yes, I said it.  She had it easy.  She didn’t work outside the home, ever, from what her blog says, her husband supported the family, and she had a community of doctors, schools, the State of Michigan, and insurance companies, as well as huge donations, Medicaid, and who she called her BFFs all rallying around to help.  Tax dollars have paid for thousands and thousands of dollars for this family while there are elderly people who can’t even buy food or their medicine.  Overwhelmed?  She went on vacations, she had eight months when her daughter was in a residential care facility, and she spent hours on end playing on the computer.  If she was overwhelmed then it was not from having a daughter who has autism.  Maybe she was overwhelmed about her daughter’s behavior improving in her absence, or overwhelmed when the teacher wouldn’t tolerate her tantrums, the mother I mean, not the daughter who was able to be helped when she lived at the care facility.  What she did to her daughter is inexcusable and any mention of autism or of the mother supposedly being overwhelmed because of her daughter’s autism is offensive.


Meaghan1985 Thank you. Not just because of you opinion but because you’re always a voice of reason.  🙂


@Angela McDonough I’m an adult on the spectrum and I don’t think it was a hate crime either.


chefaimee you make a very, very good point. While what she did was wrong, portraying Izzy as sweet and innocent, isn’t exactly accurate.  All children are inherently innocent and it’s not Izzy’s fault she is the way She is.  That said, her behaviors were extreme and while murder isn’t the answer, it’s important to keep everything in context.


Dwayne Murphy I have to say that I agree with you.  I guess I meant that we should step in and provide moral support. Sometimes that’s all we can do.

Dwayne Murphy

The sad reality is that many special needs parents don’t have someone to just step in when they are too overwhelmed and ready to snap. That’s why the government should stop wasting it’s money fighting pointless and endless wars in the Middle East and everywhere else in the world and put it’s resources towards helping these families.


rosie d that is a very good point.


Kelli obviously loves Issy, and I think that the people pushing for her to be charged with a ‘hate crime’ because of Issy’s Autism are exploiting a terrible situation to further their own cause. Which I for one find disgusting. ‘Celebrating Neurodiversity’ is a lot easier if you’re not getting your ass kicked every day by your adult-sized extremely aggressive child. Everyone would love to have an Autistic Child if they were a mathematical genius or a music protégé; not so much if they were fecal-smearing eye gougers that you couldn’t take out in public. I say that until you’ve lived her life of course it’s easy to sit back and say ‘that evil woman tried to kill that poor sweet perfect child.’ Maybe it’s easy to say that because she hasn’t given you a few concussions or ripped out handfuls of your hair. Kelli obviously snapped. She felt that she had ruined everything by arguing for the rights of her child with someone who was on a power trip, and couldn’t take it any more. It Takes a Village, people…… And the groups that are only showing ‘Sweet Innocent Perfectly Behaved Issy saying her prayers at night with her Evil Mother who was plotting her demise, just waiting for the right moment to kill her child’ should be ashamed of themselves. This isn’t a mother that shook her 4 month old to death because she wouldn’t stop crying, this is a mother who has fought long and hard to do what’s best for her child who had the rug ripped out from under her and collapsed under the weight of Too Much. I also agree with Jennifer – who knows what brain damage Kelli could be suffering from? I think everyone needs to take a step back and put ourselves in her shoes before we finish building the gallows.

Donna Holland

Well said, I called hot lines a couple times at “the end of my rope” just to have someone to talk to. I feel this parent tipped the scale and went over the edge, mentally unstable at that point

Valerie Wiley

you expressed my thoughts as well, she didn’t try and kill her daughter in order to make life easier for herself, she was willing to die as well, this is more characteristic of slipping over an edge where you feel you can no longer see a way out. We must support one another in the hope that noone else reaches this point. Wishing peace for all involved.

Angela McDonough

From what i have read most of the people who want her to be charged with a hate crime are adults on the spectrum While i do think she should be held accountable i do not feel it was a hate crime

Gilda M Sanchez

Very good blog Rob. It is very important to support each other when crisis ensues. Just like you said, we are like combat soldiers. And absolutely, seriously, stress can cause all sorts of psychiatric disorders and can cause one to have an emotional meltdown or a psychotic break. To avoid this, we all need to care for ourselves through the tough times. Like I’ve always advised: get psychiatric or psychological counseling when you feel hopeless about yourself. Take the time to talk to your friends and family about how you feel. ……This is Suicide Prevention Week.

rosie d

My first thoughts are she didn’t just try to kill her daughter, she also tried to kill herself.  It was a murder-suicide attempt.  Why is it that anyone who commits suicide is considered mentally ill at that time, and we are supposed to chalk it up to the illness taking them to that level.  But go to murder-suicide, which still has that element of suicide in it, and the person is evil, in control, and needs punishment.  Yes, there are consequences for all our actions.  But why is one suicide attempt a sign of mental illness, and the other not?


People don’t just snap. There are signs. And we are all as different as our kids. I know what you mean with using this personal story as a proof to back their cause but that is their personal perspective to what happened. You relate as a loving, exhausted parent because that’s who YOU are. Your focus is clearly on Kelli. But others can’t see it that way and you have to accept that too. I am also a parent, but my impression of Kelli was not the same as yours when I first read her blog. And that had nothing to do with autism.
Maybe this case and the very extremely varying reactions to it should teach us that we all still have a lot of work to do before we can actually talk about an ‘autism community’..


JenniferWhynott thank you.  I agree with you as well.  The reality of the situation  is that there is much more beneath the surface than a mother trying to kill her daughter. 
As far as the hate mail goes, it wouldn’t be the first time and it won’t be the last.  🙂


I wholeheartedly agree with you! I know that she loved her daughter. The one thing that doesn’t seem to be brought up is the fact that Kelli had been hospitalized on more than one occasion for repeated blows to the head. Head injuries or traumatic brain injuries can change people, their personality, and their thought processes. Maybe this has something to do with the situation. Maybe Kelli felt so hopeless that her daughter would never be able to survive as an adult. Maybe she thought of the consequences of Izzy being in public and getting set off and beating the tar out of a stranger who pressed charges and Izzy was sentenced to spend the rest of her life in an institution drugged into a comatose state because the facility could not handle her rages. If they as parents signed away their rights so Izzy could be institutionalized they would get flak for that. They would also have to live with knowing that their daughter was most likely sitting in a corner of a facility probably soiled half comatose so she didn’t rage on anyone. What kind of life is that? Maybe Kelli just couldn’t bring herself to do that. I want to make it clear that I am in no way judging parents who have had to make the choice of signing their children over to an institution. You have to do what is right for your family. We may never know why these events unfolded but I do pray for this family and the many families that are struggling with any sort of special needs. You are right when you say that we need to spot the warning signs and have a support system we can go to. The government and many autism agencies fail miserably at this. It can be so hard to hear a diagnosis and then get conflicting reports from other professionals or to have people who have never met your child tell you that you do not qualify for services because your child is too severe or not severe enough. Then there is the judgment within the community. Thank you for your honesty and hopefully you don’t get a lot of hate mail over this 🙂