Parents Who Kill

However heinous and unnatural, the crime is an extreme consequence of recognized ills: poverty, child and spousal abuse, mental instability

The drama was familiar, and so, tragically, was its conclusion. Three days before Susan Smith reported her children abducted, 24-year-old Pauline Zile told police that while she and her daughter Christina Holt were at the Swap Shop flea market just west of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, the seven-year-old had disappeared from a stall in the ladies' room. For five days, Zile played the terrified mother on television, weeping and running her fingers through the hair of one of her daughter's dolls. A massive hunt for the little girl commenced.

Then on Oct. 27, the truth emerged. Police had searched Zile's apartment and...

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