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Autism rights movement
Neurodiversity · Neurotypical · Sociological and cultural aspects
Aspies For Freedom · Autism National Committee · Autism Network International · Autistic Self Advocacy Network ·
Autistic Pride Day · Autreat
Judge Rotenberg Educational Center · Karen McCarron

Karen McCarron is an Illinois physician who has admitted to smothering her autistic daughter Katherine 'Katie' McCarron to death.[1] A grand jury indicted her on two counts of first-degree murder, two counts of obstructing justice and one count of concealment of a homicidal death.[2] McCarron went to trial on January 7, 2008 and after a week long trial, was convicted of first degree murder, obstruction of justice, and concealing a homicidal death on January 17, 2008.[3].


Karen and Paul McCarron's first child was Katherine, diagnosed with autism in 2004. In September of that year, Paul and Katie moved to North Carolina to live with her paternal grandmother. This move was made so Katie could attend The Mariposa School in Cary, North Carolina, a special school for children with autism and related disorders.[4] Paul and Katie returned home to Illinois on holidays. Karen, who was a pathologist with the Peoria-Tazewell Pathology Group, stayed in Peoria with their younger daughter Emily, and visited North Carolina occasionally.[1]

After 20 months, the family decided to return full-time to Illinois.[4] Paul McCarron took Katie to their home in Illinois on May 3, 2006. On May 7, 2006, Paul returned to North Carolina to fulfill the last three weeks of his work commitment. Katie remained in Illinois under the care of her mother and maternal grandparents, along with her younger sister. On the afternoon of Saturday May 13, Mother's Day, 2006, Karen killed Katie by suffocating her in a plastic bag. In the very early hours of Sunday morning, Karen McCarron tried to overdose on over-the-counter medication.[4]


News articles and weblogs have emphasized the difficulties in raising a child with autism, and some suggested that McCarron may have been stressed by lack of support and dealing with Katie's autism. Katie's grandfather, Michael McCarron, said:[5]

This was not about autism. This was not about a lack of support.

Some people with autism have rallied in favor of a conviction of McCarron and Katie's death garnered intense scrutiny within the autism rights movement and among disability advocates.[4][6] Autism Hub held a memorial on May 24 and the disability rights group Not Dead Yet led the charge to reveal the facts of the case.[4] The local media is responding to advocates who criticize them for sympathic reporting towards alleged perpetrators.[7]


  1. ^ a b Brogadir, Josh (May 17, 2006). "Police: Mother confesses to suffocating daughter: Autism has impact on families". HOI 19. Retrieved 2007-11-08.  
  2. ^ Reynolds, Dave (January 9, 2007). "Board Suspends Dr. McCarron's License Indefinitely". Inclusion Daily Express. Retrieved 2007-11-08.  
  3. ^ Associated Press (January 17, 2008). "Karen McCarron guilty: Jury finds woman who killed autistic daughter guilty on all charges". HOI 19. Retrieved 2008-01-18.  
  4. ^ a b c d e Coalition of Citizens with Disabilities in Illinois (July–August 2006). "Katie McCarron". Press release. Retrieved 2007-11-08.  
  5. ^ Reynolds, Dave (May 24, 2006). "Grandfather Says Girl's Murder Had Nothing To Do With Autism". Inclusion Daily Express. Retrieved 2007-11-08.  
  6. ^ Liss, Jennifer (July 11, 2006). "Autism: the Art of Compassionate Living". Wiretap Magazine. Retrieved 2007-11-08.  
  7. ^ Reynolds, Dave (June 30, 2006). "Police Accuse Mother Of Trying To Poison Daughter; Media Softens Approach Toward Victims". Inclusion Daily Express. Retrieved 2007-11-08.  


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