January 1st, 1970

Recent Changes

2/24/2015
Change log started.
Added Jason Sims to The Missing.
Added Brandon Beukers.

2/26/2015
Added the tag "Family Involved" for those who were killed by family.
Combined an entry for two children who died in the same incident.

3/1/2015
Updated Brandon Williams with a quote from Brandon's father.

3/2/2015
Added the Non-Autism-Related Deaths section for a list of non-autistic disabled homicide victims. Hopefully will be a useful reference for people doing research.

3/3/2015
Added David Herrera Jr.

3/4/2015
Too many non-autism-related deaths to put in one post. Have moved these entries to a Memorial Annex site, where they are organized by year.

3/8/2015
Added Robin Callender

3/10/2015
Added Matthew Hafer
Added Giovanni Kopystenski
Added Raashanai Coley
Added Susan Shea

3/11/2015
Added Shane Graham
Added Seth Sueppel

3/12/2015
Added Brian Gho Kah Heng

3/17/2015
Added Jordan Payne
Added Heather Frans
Added Hevin Jenkins
Added Timothy Ellis Jr.

3/22/2015
Added an unidentified 8-year-old male

3/26/2015
Added John Fulton
Added Rebekah Harkins
Added Heaven Woods
Added Cordero Webber Jr.
Added Adrian Colon

3/28/2015
Added details to Rasheen Rose

3/30/2015
Added Jade Norton

4/10/2015
Added Elspeth McKendrick

4/17/2015
Added K.C.
Added details to Otto Smith

4/22/2015
Added James McLaughlin
Added details to Jared James
Added details to Christina Sankey

4/23/2015
Added Ahziya Osceola

4/30/2015
Added Doherty, first name unknown
Added David Dehmann

5/8/2015
Added Aja Dasa

5/10/2015
Found A.T.'s full name, Aleksi Toledo.

5/17/2015
Added Tia Jones.
Added Dillon Cearfoss

The Missing

This entry is unusual in that the people listed here are not dead, but missing. They are all autistic or were reported to be autistic, and all are missing under circumstances that implies that someone meant them harm.

Unlike the memorials proper, these people have a chance--however slim--of still being found alive. Remember their names, remember their faces, and we may one day have cause to either celebrate their survival or mourn their loss. Until then, these cases remain unsolved.

-----

Yu Man-HonName: Yu Man-Hon
Date Missing: August 8, 2000
Age at Disappearance: 15
Last Known Location: Yau Ma Tei MTR station, Hong Kong
Circumstances: Yu Man-Hon became separated from his mother and crossed the border into mainland China, where authorities tried to return him to Hong Kong but were turned away at the border. There have been reports that Yu Man-Hon was beaten to death at a shelter, but his mother refuses to have him declared dead.

References:
I won't have my missing boy declared dead
Missing in China


---

Jason SimsName: Jason Sims, Jr.
Date Missing: January 1, 2015
Age at Disappearance: 15
Last Known Location: Fairfield, Alabama, USA
Circumstances: Amidst a child neglect investigation, Jason's parents were jailed for neglecting Jason's three siblings. When they were arrested, Jason was reported as having been missing for more than three weeks. Ominously, he had never attended school and had no medical records. The photo at right is an age-progressed version of the only available picture of Jason, which was taken when he was a small child.
Description: African American, approximately 5'6” and 125 pounds, with black hair and black eyes.

Fairfield police release age-progressed image of missing teen
Police search missing autistic teen Jason Sims' home, release age-enhanced photo

Recommended Links

These sites are pages I've found that address the issue of murder, fatal abuse and neglect, and hate crimes against the disabled. They are not limited to autism. Some of these sites are general memorials, others dedicated to a specific disability. If you have a recommendation, send me an e-mail or a PM or comment on this post. If your site is here and you don't want it here, send me an e-mail or PM and I'll remove it.

Record of the Dead
List of deaths of the disabled due to ablism during September through November of 2010.

This Way of Life: Murder of Autistics
List of autistic people murdered by caretakers, and the sentences the killers received.

Autism Rest
Memorials to 43 autistic people.

Not Dead Yet
Organization of disabled people who oppose euthanasia.

National Day of Mourning, 2014
Information on the National Day of Mourning, remembering disabled people murdered by family. National Day of Mourning was established by ASAN and Not Dead Yet.

Angelizd's Place: A Peaceful Dwelling Among Angels
Memorial site to child abuse victims; several hundred very detailed memorials available.

US Holocaust Memorial Museum
Includes information about the disabled victims of the Holocaust

Innocents Lost
A database of child victims in Florida

ASAN anti-filicide toolkit
Autistic Self-Advocacy Network document for prevention of and response to the killing of disabled children by their caretakers. Includes advice on how to contact the press or plan a vigil.

FAQ: About This Site

Autism Memorial is a site dedicated to remembering those autistic people who died because of malpractice, lack of resources or support, or outright murder. Occasionally, a news story will be widely covered; but most cases receive very little memorial. This site is here because everyone should be remembered.

Q: Can I submit a story?
A: Yes. Send a private message, including at least one reliable source, with as many details as you can find. Especially important for the purposes of a memorial is information about who the person was when they were alive--their hobbies and pastimes, their personality, their talents, their quirks. A photo of the deceased individual is particularly good, since many people can empathize with another person most easily when they can see that person's face.

Q: Which cases qualify?
A: The person must have been on the autism spectrum, and their death should be directly or indirectly related to being the victim of prejudice, malpractice, neglect, or similar. If the person was autistic, and the person who killed them knew they were autistic, or took advantage of their vulnerability in some way, their story is included. People who died because of lack of resources or lack of support, medical neglect or medical malpractice, are also included.

Q: What about someone who doesn't have a diagnosis?
A: Some people cannot receive a diagnosis because of lack of access to medical care, because their cases were mild or complex, or because they live in areas where autism is not often diagnosed. If there is a good reason to believe they were autistic, they can be included. Syndromes which can or do include autism, such as Rett's and Fragile X, are close enough to count. There may also be a few cases of people who were not autistic, but died because they were thought to be autistic. These cases can also be included, since they are victims of anti-autistic prejudice as much as anyone else.

Q: The person I'm thinking of committed suicide. Can they be included?
A: Yes, if their suicide was related to mistreatment (for example, an abuse victim who commits suicide because of the abuse), or if they were denied treatment or given inadequate or inappropriate treatment for a mental illness, or if they were known to be at risk of suicide and still denied appropriate treatment.

Q: Does murder or manslaughter automatically make a case eligible?
A: No; the incident had to be related to their autism in some way. For example, if someone were killed in a robbery gone wrong, and the killer had no idea they were autistic, that would not qualify; but they could be included if they were picked out because the robber saw an easy target in someone who seemed disabled. I prefer to include, rather than exclude, doubtful cases.

Q: Some of these articles are marked "Name unknown." Why?
A: Occasionally, I find some articles in which the names of the deceased are not known. Sometimes it's because the journalist writing the article doesn't know the names; sometimes it's for privacy reasons; sometimes it's for legal reasons. However, these people too deserve to be remembered, even though we do not know their names.

Q: What about cases in which a person is missing and likely dead, but hasn't been declared dead?
A: After some debate, I've decided to include a special page with names, locations, and links to information about people who went missing in suspicious circumstances and may or may not be dead. I don't want to diminish their loved ones' hope that they will one day return, and the day I remove a name from that list will be a day of celebration to me. However, occasionally someone who is responsible for the death of an autistic person does get away with concealing the death to the degree that no one is even sure it happened. These people, too, deserve to be remembered. What finally made the decision for me was this: If by posting these pictures, I increase awareness that they are missing, they may one day be found--hopefully, found alive, but even a confirmed death is better than uncertainty.

Q: I have a correction to make.
A: Post a comment on the post reviewing the story, with references to the correct information. For simple corrections, I will just change the information. If it turns out there are multiple viewpoints or uncertainty about the information, all major theories will be included.

SUBMISSIONS

Visitors:

I welcome your help with this memorial. Any information on any of the people memorialized here, as well as names of new cases, will be very useful.

What information do you need?
Most useful:

  • The names of people who are not on the memorial, but should be. Read the FAQ to get more information on which cases I am collecting. Briefly: These are people who were either autistic or thought to be autistic, who died because of prejudice, maltreatment, lack of services, or murder. The death of an autistic person is always a tragedy, but these cases are those deaths which could have been prevented if autistic people were given full human rights in the eyes of their families, medical professionals, the government, and their communities.

  • Information that tells the reader who the deceased person was--what they liked to do, their friends, their families, their personality quirks. Things as seemingly insignificant as "He had a real sweet tooth," or, "She liked to cook," are very valuable information because they make that person's individuality clear.

  • Photographs of those for whom I don't have pictures.

  • Reliable sources--news articles, court cases, obituaries, etc.--especially for those cases where documentation is slim.

  • Historical cases. Autism existed in the past, even before we knew what it was. These people were often labeled "feeble-minded" (or similar terms for intellectual disability); some were diagnosed with "schizophrenia". Others went without a diagnosis. If there's reason to believe that they were autistic, I would like to hear about them. Right now, I am looking for profiles of individuals killed in Aktion T-4, the involuntary euthanasia program for the disabled in Nazi Germany. There are also hints that some people accused of witchcraft were mildly autistic loners.

  • Corrections. Whether it's a date out of place, an incorrect fact, or even a simple grammatical error or typo, tell me and I will fix them. For factual errors, please provide a source.

  • Information about how the person died. This is often the easiest to obtain, but it's necessary; otherwise I wouldn't know whether to include someone.

What shouldn't I send?
Natural deaths, death by accident, and deaths where the person was killed for some other reason than their autism. For example--the autistic victims of the Newtown school shooting, Dylan Hockley and Josephine Grey, are not included because there is no evidence that their autism made them more vulnerable; in fact, their teachers died shielding them. Autistic cigar store owner Mobeen Hakeem is not included because he was killed, along with his brother, during a robbery gone wrong--a motive unrelated to his autism.

You can send stories of people who were never diagnosed with autism or probably did not have autism, if they were labeled autistic in some way. People with disabilities other than autism do face the same sort of danger of maltreatment and homicide, but if I included them, I would not be able to keep up with the flood of names. If you have a site memorializing victims of hate crime, abuse, neglect, etc., who had other disabilities, you can post that, and I'll link to it.

I've found some information. Where should I send it?

  • Comment on this post. I'm screening comments to prevent spam, but I'll read your post and include the information.

  • Send e-mail to lisa450 @ yahoo.com (remove the spaces around the @ sign).

  • Comment on the memorial post with the person whose information you're updating.

Will you credit me?
Yes, if you want me to. You can always post anonymously or ask me to leave out your name.

3,500 Aktion T4 Victims

T43,500 autistic people, mostly children, mostly from Germany and Poland.
Died: January 20, 1940 to December 1944
Cause of death: Lethal injection, gassing, starvation, shooting, and others.

Details:
Aktion T4 was the Nazi involuntary euthanasia program that targeted Germans with disabilities--at first children, and eventually adults. It was part of the eugenics movement; Nazi ideology held that those who could not work were useless eaters and life unworthy of life. It was stressed that these people were a burden on their communities and would make Germany weak because they were so expensive to care for.

Parents were encouraged to send their disabled children to institutions, where they "could be better cared for". These children, and later on adult patients of mental institutions, were sent to euthanasia clinics where they were killed, usually by lethal injection. Parents were sent a notice that their child had died of natural causes like measles or pneumonia.

A total of 70,273 people were killed in Aktion T4. Most were disabled or mentally ill; a few were political dissidents. Some of these people would have been autistic.

Germany had a population of approximately 70 million at the time, so the death rate from Aktion T4 was about 1:1000. In modern times, autism is known to affect about 1:100 people, and 16% of these have an IQ below 50. About 80% do not work. Since only 1:1000 Germans died in Aktion T4, it is possible to conclude that many autistic people either escaped death or were incarcerated in normal concentration camps as being "work-shy".

Many of the less disabled autistics would have survived because they were never diagnosed with anything and were able to work. Others would have survived because they were female and their families helped them compensate for their deficits, since women were not necessarily expected to work outside the home. Hans Asperger first defined Asperger syndrome in the shadow of the Nazi regime, and part of his argument was that his autistic boys were talented and could be useful members of society; Asperger's original patients survived the Holocaust.

Both "feeble-mindedness" and inability to work would have made German autistic people more vulnerable to extermination by the Nazis, though some of the unemployed would have been labeled "work-shy" and incarcerated in the normal concentration camps.

The autistic people most likely to die in Aktion T4 would have been children with obvious autism, or whose autism was associated with epilepsy. Any institutionalized Jewish Germans, whether child or adult, would have been automatically selected for euthanasia. About one-third of autistics have epilepsy; about one-sixth have a moderate to profound intellectual disability. Both of those conditions raised the risk that a person would be selected. However, we don't know what the true autism rate was in 1940s Germany, since at that point autism was not well-known. Most such autistics would have been simply labeled "feeble-minded", "epileptic", or in some cases "schizophrenic".

It is possible to estimate roughly how many of the T4 victims were autistic. About 20% of people have a disability; about 1% of people have autism. Autism tends to be more severe, on average, than other disabilities; but a conservative estimate would be that about 5% of disabled people have autism. If 5% of the Aktion T4 victims were autistic, then the total number of autistic T4 victims would have been around 3,500.

Disabled German children were among the very first victims of the Holocaust. I have been trying to find profiles, to find out what these children were like, but it is a difficult search. Most of the Aktion T4 victims who are remembered today were not disabled, but were political dissidents. The stories of the disabled children who died seem to have, for the most part, faded into history. But they still deserve to be remembered.

Aktion T4, more than any other Nazi extermination program, drew widespread outrage from Germans. Though Nazi officials tried to hide the reality of the extermination program, parents began to find out and clergy began to speak against it. In response, the program was officially terminated in August of 1941, though the killing continued until the end of the war.

References:
Montana ASA, Autism Facts
IQ in children with autism
Chartbook on Disability in the US
Holocaust Encyclopedia, Euthanasia Program
Berlin unveils memorial for disabled Holocaust victims