The murder of a nine-year-old boy by his sister, 12, has gripped the nation and left people wondering: What turns a seemingly ordinary child into a murderer?
The Oklahoma girl stabbed her brother with a kitchen knife three times in January in what appeared to be an unprovoked attack before waking her mother and tearfully revealing what she had done.
Doctors have warned that some medication or an undiagnosed personality disorder could prompt a child to kill with it now emerging that the girl was just off an unnamed ADHD drug.
Dr. Stuart Fischer, a New York-based emergency medicine expert, has warned that the drugs can trigger a “perfect storm” in children that can trigger behavioral changes, in the most extreme cases making children homicidal or suicidal.
A broken family: Mom April Lyda with her son, Zander, in a GoFundme appeal for the family after his 12-year-old sister was accused of stabbing him to death
Zander Lyda, was stabbed to death in Tulsa, Oklahoma on January 5
The horrific case in Oklahoma resurfaced this week with the release of heartbreaking bodycam footage of the girl’s arrest and her mother, April Lyda’s conversations with the police.
The footage shows the girl, whom DailyMail.com isn’t naming, rushing down the stairs screaming “I’m sorry” over and over between stifled sobs.
As she was being handcuffed, the girl sobbed: ‘I’m so sorry, I don’t know what happened. It’s demonic stuff.’
In an interview yesterday, her mother also revealed how the girl was taking ADHD medication shortly before the attack.
She said her daughter had been put back on medication after returning to school. But within a month, when she started cutting off her arms, the doctors decided to take them off again.
The girl cut herself again the night before the attack on her brother, Zander, who was in bed trying to sleep at the time.
The boy died shortly after of his injuries. But in footage released by the Tulsa police, mother and daughter both believe the boy is still alive.
Dr. Fischer warned DailyMail.com that the drugs could help turn the boy into a killer.
He said: ‘Someone who passes by needs a drug like this [ADHD drugs] for someone who is homicidal or psychopathic this has been extensively documented since the drugs were first used many years ago.’
He described it as a “perfect storm of medication that you could probably see some behavior change in the person that could become ‘dangerous or pathological’ in extreme cases.”
Common ADHD medications taken in the US like Adderall can cause a variety of side effects including psychosis, in which you lose touch with external reality, mood swings, depression and panic attacks.
Even stopping drugs can cause a range of withdrawal symptoms, which according to the Orlando Recovery Center Addiction Center include psychosis, paranoia and hallucinations.
He also said that ADHD medications combined with other medications, such as asthma medications, can have unusual interactions.
Psychiatric drugs meant to treat depression and anxiety, such as Zoloft and Prozac, called SSRIs, can sometimes cause suicidal thoughts as well as hallucinations and homicidal ideation.
Prednisone, a steroid that relieves lung inflammation that helps people with severe asthma when they experience an attack, can also causemood swings, psychosis and mania.
It was not revealed whether the 12-year-old girl had recently used any medications other than those for ADHD.
Ms Lyda said her daughter started having behavioral problems when she ‘was put back on a drug she had been off for over a year’.
At the same time, police reported that the girl had a history of self-harm.
Dr. Fischer said: People who taper off prednisone can become very depressed. It has a psychological side effect. This is not alternative medicine and is not meant to be treated for psychiatric problems.
This is complicated chemistry, what [the medicine] He’s doing. It can’t just have positive effects. It is inconceivable that a drug as important as the one for asthma has only a positive effect.
The recently released police bodycam footage of the attack begins with the girl running downstairs as she screams, “I’m so sorry.” I am very sorry’
The handcuffed girl then leads the police to the knife she allegedly used to stab her brother, who he had thrown out a window
In a 2003 case study published in the Canadian Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Review, researchers in Newfoundland, Canada, reported on an eight-year-old boy who was taking corticosteroids for his asthma and began experiencing hallucinations and delusions.
These included visual disturbances such as seeing women dancing in grass skirts and claims that women’s noses looked strange.
The boy also started feeling very suicidal and said he should serve the devil.
Eventually, the GP took the boy off corticosteroids and his delusions and paranoia dissipated.
Markell Noah, 12, was found shot dead in a house in Jackson, Mississippi. He had argued with another boy over a gun, it was alleged, and during the fight the gun exploded
In an earlier child killer case, a 12-year-old boy was shot and killed in an abandoned house in Jackson, Mississippi, after it was alleged he had fought with another boy over a gun. Witnesses said the gun exploded during the scuffle.
Dr. Fischer also suggested that a previously hidden personality disorder could lead to a child suddenly becoming a murderer.
He said: ‘Something clicked [the mood change]. In this case, it could be that prednisone is the straw that broke the camel’s back.
Someone who has an underlying ailment, this could be putting them over the edge.
When asked what ailment it could be, she said: ‘It could be paranoia.
“A paranoia usually refers to when there isn’t a danger present, but someone who is perceiving a danger that isn’t actually there.”
Paranoias can leave someone with a heightened sense of danger, even if no danger is present, which can lead to irrational acts of violence.
Dr. Fischer added: ‘I want to clarify that there could be other factors as well. They could have meningitis, for example… this could result in very erratic behaviour.’
‘Millions, if not billions, of children have grown up without this medicine throughout human history.
“This is a case that can make us think about the power unleashed by these drugs and, secondly, how to study them.”
Meningitis is inflammation of the lining of the brain or spinal cord, which can affect how well the organ works.
Almost as soon as the stabbing was committed, the 12-year-old appeared repentant, yelling I’m so sorry I don’t know what happened and “God please help me.” What the f**k. Please. Fuck please.’
Ms Lyda, who rushed to hospital with her injured son while her daughter was detained by police, said she was sleeping upstairs when the attack took place.
Pictured: The Family Center for Juvenile Justice in Tulsa, where the 12-year-old was being held following her fatal January stabbing
There are also religious overtones in the mother’s written explanation which included phrases such as “they were raised as God fearing children” and “Like any 12 year old who wasn’t allowed to swear or watch scary evil movies.”
This has led many online observers to speculate that Ms Lyda’s religious beliefs were overbearing the 12-year-old girl, who may have rebelled.
While it was not confirmed that the girl was taking prednisone, the drug is one that can cause significant mood swings if stopped and started abruptly.
The girl is in juvenile custody at the Tulsa Police Child Crisis Unit in charge of the investigation. She is being held at the Family Center for Juvenile Justice, according to Tulsa Police.
This is the second homicide in the city of Tulsa this year, the Tulsa Police Department’s Child Crisis Unit said.
Tulsa Police Department Chief Franklin tweeted: “All homicides are tragic, but the second homicide of 2023 in Tulsa shows a definitive social problem. The question is how does society address a child who kills a other child?’
Ms. Lyda raised money on GoFundMe to afford the move. She said her daughter was a “normal” teenager who never even “yelled” at her until she went back on an unspecified drug that she had stopped taking for a year.
“They were good kids…they were raised God-fearing kids and never had any behavior problems until she was put back on a drug she had been off for over a year,” she said.
The motive was not disclosed, but the young woman has been receiving unspecified medical treatment for an undisclosed period of time.