Family of mom accused of murdering son says mental illness played a role

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) The family of Jessica Murphy, who is accused of stabbing her 8-year-old son to death early Wednesday morning, said she was diagnosed last year with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.

Police say the 29-year-old woman stabbed Jacob Noe at 19 Lovering Avenue, which is off of Hertel Avenue, just before 2 a.m. Murphy was taken into custody at the scene. The little boy was taken to the hospital, where he later died from his injuries.

WATCH | You can watch Jessica Murphy’s arraignment by clicking here

Jacob was a second grader at Tapestry Charter School. Executive director Joy Pepper says he was a delightful child who was very connected to his teachers and friends. He had attended the school since kindergarten. Teachers there broke the news to his classmates that he had died, and called all of their parents.

Murphy was arraigned on second degree murder charges Wednesday morning, where she pleaded not guilty with an assigned attorney. Her family calls her a loving mother, and says in her head, Murphy believed she was killing her son “out of love.”

Everyone has to die. He had to die. I am saving him from going to hell. – Murphy, according to court documents

Neighbor Chris Brown says he heard a blood-curdling scream from a woman, who shouted, ‘Help, help!’ Shortly after that, police and paramedics arrived. Murphy showed no emotion when she was taken into custody, and her expression was similarly blank in court. When the judge read her charge, Murphy simply blinked.

According to court documents, Murphy told officers while being arrested, “Everyone has to die. He had to die. I am saving him from going to hell.” And while being interviewed by detectives, she said, “How can you ask me this after I just murdered my baby?”

Just six days ago, Murphy posted on her Facebook page asking people to stop worrying about her and to stop calling her mom.

“Does that mean she’s going to murder her son? Of course not. But that is a very loud siren, a very bright red flag,” said psychologist Dr. Amy Beth Taublieb.

She says moms who kills are often delusional, and believe they are rescuing or saving their children from some horrible fate.

On May 1, Murphy posted to Facebook, “And to think we left the wild card out of the game, and that’s how the queen ran away with the joker back when we still played poker.” On May 3, she wrote, “You have to become the most brilliant in order to become the most ignorant.”

Dr. Taublieb said, “It’s an indication of a feeling of grandiosity, narcissism.”

But among the bizarre posts are seemingly normal family activities, like going on a camping trip in April. Neighbors are stunned. They say they saw Murphy interact with her son lovingly.

“They spent a lot of time together. They looked fine. Normal as far as I know,” neighbor Denise Perry said.

“They’d be doing family stuff. And I’d see them up on top of the porch,” Vera McNab said.

Dr. Taublieb says Murphy’s statements to police appear to show a contradiction between delusional and rational thinking.

“I think it was the common flip flopping, if you will, between extremely irrational and going, ‘Oh my God, what did I do?'” she said.

She says these situations don’t come out of nowhere. Close family and friends will often see changes and should encourage a person in need to talk with a doctor. Dr. Taublieb says it can be confusing when a person with a mental illness appears to act normally, despite other indications things are not normal.

Murphy is being held without bail. She is due back in court Monday for a felony hearing. If found guilty of killing her son, Murphy could face life in prison.

Police were called to the home once before about a year ago, but it was unrelated to the child.