Child crimes expert weighs in on Va. Beach murder-suicide


by Eric Kane, 13News Now

Posted on June 27, 2014 at 5:33 AM

Updated Friday, Jun 27 at 5:41 AM

VIRGINIA BEACH -- This weeks murder-suicide between a mother and daughter in Virginia Beach brings new light to a persistent problem in Hampton Roads, according to child welfare experts.

On Thursday, Virginia Beach police said Thu Thau Havan, 40, murdered her 7-year-old daughter before killing herself at their Chicks Beach Court home.

Betty Wade Coyle, Executive Director of Prevent Child Abuse Hampton Roads, says this is not the first tragedy of its kind in Hampton Roads which ranks the second highest for child abuse related deaths in Virginia.

"This is a transient area and there are a lot of very isolated families and not having friends and family close by is a risk," said Wade Coyle.

Wade Coyle has spent the past 20 years studying child deaths. She says she has seen these sort of murders happen once a year, on average.

She would not comment specifically on the recent one in Virginia Beach, which is still under investigation. She did note, however, that cases likes these have similarities.

"When you see these sort of cases, you typically see two things; either domestic violence, marriage breaking up or some sort of extra stress that throws someone psychologically over the edge," Wade Coyle explained.

Stress alone, Wade Coyle says, can be enough to leave parents believing there's only one way out.

"They [parents] think they'd be better just to leave and they always, not always, but most of the time, think what they're doing to their child puts their child in a better place," Wade Coyle said.

Child Abuse Hampton Roads will review the Chicks Beach Court case in about a year and provide recommendations and analysis to the state about ways that it could've been prevented.

Virginia Beach police have not said how the mother and daughter died, pending the outcome of autopsies.

For more about child abuse and filicide, click the following links: 

Champions For Children Hampton Roads

Kids Priority One