February 25th, 2009
09:38 AM ET

Cops: Mom runs over son

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/02/25/art.crime.mom.runover.son.jpg caption="Sandra Renia Joseph was charged with first-degree murder."]

Gabriel Falcon
AC360° Writer

There are cases that shock even the toughest of cops. The crimes that make hardened detectives sick to their stomachs. This is one of them.

A mother in Louisiana is accused of killing her own child. Investigators say the murder weapon was an SUV. And published reports describe the suspect as a former police officer.

The incident occurred Saturday morning. At around 9:15am on February 21, a call came into the Saint Landry Parish Sheriff’s Office. A woman said she was walking along a rural road when she noticed a silver Suzuki SUV with extensive front damage. She said the driver told her to contact the police because she had just run over her son.

When the authorities arrived at the scene, they say the driver said the same thing to them – that she had run over her son. They also allege she directed them to his body. The victim was found next to a barn near the road. Samuel Utomeh was 11-years-old.

According to the police, there were multiple points of impact that caused severe blunt force trauma to the child. His mother, Sandra Renia Joseph, was charged with first-degree murder. The 49-year-old is being held without bond.

The Daily World newspaper says Joseph was a Lafayette Police Officer from 1985 until 1990. According to the paper, she now works at the Louisiana Department of Social Services, which is in the process of suspending her until the case is closed.

The story has stunned many in the community, among them, Jimmy Darbonne. The Public Information Officer for the Saint Landry Sheriff’s Office says he’s worked in law enforcement for years, but has never seen anything like this before.

Filed under: Crime & Punishment • Gabe Falcon
soundoff (207 Responses)
  1. Isabel, Brazil

    What creepy story!
    Life is hard!

    What happens in the minds of people? Why are they mad?

    February 25, 2009 at 11:10 am |

    True this was very tragic but before we judge anyone we have to know the whole story. A lot of times we take a situation and run with it before getting to know the details of what went on. There is always two sides to every situation. This family is destroyed now and only God can really convict someone. Just let let the police do their job and stop judging before you really know the truth of the matter. That's whats wrong with the world today.

    February 25, 2009 at 11:09 am |
  3. grwnazwoman

    What made her do such her thing?Did the child threaten her?Where tthey fighting? What possessed her to do this to her own child?

    February 25, 2009 at 11:09 am |
  4. Nancy

    She admitted it, now march her right into the death chamber and be done with her. No need to waste our taxdollars housing murderers anymore.

    February 25, 2009 at 11:09 am |
  5. Shelbydean

    This story is incomplete, it has nothing but the barest details about the fact that that the woman admitted running over the child, that she requested someone phone the authorities and that she has been arrested.

    All of you sitting in judgement, making insinuations and assumptions should be ashamed of yourselves. The police arrest people all of the time who have been involved in horrible situations that turn out the be horrible ACCIDENTS.

    When all of you agree to be tried, found guilty and sentenced to life in prison or death by people who have heard only the barest of details of a situation, then you will have the right to crack off as you are doing now.

    February 25, 2009 at 11:07 am |
  6. jpk

    Regardless of our feelings toward this parent a child was killed needlessly. Children are gifts, they may not always act as such, but they are. Rational, normal, caring people do not harm their children in any way shape or form.

    February 25, 2009 at 11:07 am |
  7. sheba

    I am a mother myself and I cannot think of anything more horrific than a mother killing her own child. I cannot even imagine what must have been going through this ladys' mine when she hit her son over and over with a SUV. I only hope that GOD has mercy on her soul because I know that a jury of her peers won't

    February 25, 2009 at 11:07 am |
  8. Deb

    If prison was so difficult for them, why are the prisoners on death row fighting to stay alive. Prison has gym's, libraries, play time, etc. It's a nice life there. Put this woman on death row and get it done quickly.

    February 25, 2009 at 11:07 am |
  9. lisa in Kansas

    I agree with Gail. What about the 11 year old who shot his Father's preganant girlfriend? Or, the other boy who shot his father and a friend with a rifle?? Watch and Pray, God is coming soon. These are the sign of the times.

    February 25, 2009 at 11:07 am |
  10. Nate


    Have you ever been in a prison? Probably not...they have things like gyms, libraries, and education programs to maintain offender moral. Think about it, when you are at work and moral is low, what happens? Possibly arguments, resignations, or firings. Well that is the civilized world....civilized generally does not equate to prison life. I work in a prison and am certain that if these outlets did not exist violence would increase dramatically. Think about it this way, every second for the rest of her life will be controlled, every decision will be made for her. Obviously she is disturbed and belongs in prison but if she decides not to feel bad about her actions...I personally do not care. Her repentance is of no concern to me. My concern is with the family members that she has hurt and the little boy that will never grow up.

    February 25, 2009 at 11:06 am |
  11. concerned, ny

    Ned Watson, I totally agree with you....why should we have to pay to enprison them...the prisons are over crowded now. Look at CA wanting to let loose 1/2 of their prison population. Just what society needs!

    February 25, 2009 at 11:06 am |
  12. Alyzabeth

    Wow. Just speechless.

    February 25, 2009 at 11:05 am |
  13. Emily

    I just cant belive that some one can do this to there own child? what is wrong with people today? She needs to stay in jail for the rest of her life.

    February 25, 2009 at 11:05 am |
  14. sdfsdf


    February 25, 2009 at 11:04 am |
  15. betty

    what has gotten into mothers these days! My children are grown, but when I was raising my children I protected them, I wasn't out here trying to find ways to kill them. If someone tried to hurt my child I would have jumped between them, not hurt them myself.

    I just shiver when I think of the way women (not mother) are treating their children. Why are these women bringing these children into the world if they are not going to take care of them and love them. It just breaks my heart to see the way these children are being done.

    When I see the pictures of little Caylee and all the other children that have been killed by the hands of the ones that they trust the most, (their mothers), I wonder what this world is coming to. If a child can't trust their mother who can they trust.

    I knew when I was growing up that when I was sick or needed someone to talk to, that My Mother was always there for me no matter what. She alway protected me. That should be instilled in every woman. MOTHERS PROTECT YOUR CHILDREN. They are God given.

    February 25, 2009 at 11:04 am |
  16. LG

    This story is ridiculous. I don't see anything in here that says it was intentional other than the fact that the mother was charged with murder. They don't say why they charged her with murder. Multiple points of impact? That's ambiguous – does that mean she backed up and ran over him again? Could still be someone who lost control of the car or panicked. There's nothing in this to suggest it wasn't an accident.

    February 25, 2009 at 11:03 am |
  17. Emma

    This world is reaching a very dark place. Day after day I hear a new story about a parent that took the life of their own child and it literally makes me sick to my stomach. What is wrong with people? These are your children! They look to you for love and protection! I can't imagine the terror that these children experience when they are being harmed by their own mother or father! I am not necessarily an all-out death penalty supporter, but, in these circumstances, I see no other way that justice can be served for these innocent victims. These sick, twisted parents have no place in this world!

    February 25, 2009 at 11:03 am |
  18. Traci


    I agree with you; however, I feel that we have become so desensitized within our society that not much will be done. Sure as of right now this story is hard to stomach, unfortunately, next week it will be something else. Just look back at the recent weeks events say for instance the singer who is accused of battering his girlfriend. How much do you hear about that after about a week? By no means am I comparing the two because of course there is no comparison. Unlike the girlfriend the child could not walk away from an abusive situation. I am simply stating that more should be done to keep these cases in the forefront of the populations mind. Many people feel that this has nothing to do with them so why waste time thinking about it. What many do not realize is that abused children grow up to become abusive to either themselves, other or in many instances, both!

    February 25, 2009 at 11:03 am |
  19. brandon

    ralph you are right

    February 25, 2009 at 11:02 am |
  20. micheal green

    that is sad she is twisted for doing that who in there right mind would do that

    February 25, 2009 at 11:00 am |
  21. Lela

    I don't agree that we should let them sit in jail and suffer, because I don't want to support people like her. WE'RE the ones who will pay for her stay in a jail...I could never imagine wanting to hurt my own child in any way. What a sorry waste of skin this person is!

    February 25, 2009 at 11:00 am |
  22. BA

    People like this should just kill themselves. Why harm the innocent?

    February 25, 2009 at 10:56 am |
  23. sertified g stunner

    omg y would she do that.... thats so sad omg i feel sad for she did

    February 25, 2009 at 10:56 am |
  24. Browngurl

    This is a terrible story! At least the child will go to heaven. I do not know or want to know what goes through anyone's mind that they would take the life of their child. From the story that I have read it sounds like she did this intentionally! I am so sick of hearing about about all these children being killed and kidnap, it makes me so mad to hear what people are doing to these kids. Prayer, Prayer,

    February 25, 2009 at 10:55 am |
  25. ralph

    thats sad he dident even do any thing so why did he deserve to die

    February 25, 2009 at 10:54 am |
  26. Dave in Burton

    The best reason for a death sentence is that they will NEVER be able to take another life..... To bad it's to late to save her son.

    February 25, 2009 at 10:54 am |
  27. mark

    Pray for the family and her because she need help and love because she had to be out of her mind!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    February 25, 2009 at 10:54 am |
  28. Traci

    This is sickening and shocking. I do not feel that her employment has anything to do with it. Sure common sense would dictate that because of the place of employment she should know better. Evil does not discriminate.

    February 25, 2009 at 10:52 am |
  29. colleen

    what on earth is so hard about giving your unwanted child up for adoption, would you rather live with the possible regret of giving them up for adoption or spending the rest of your life in a prison cell with the possible regret? I just don't understand why people kill children. may she rot in prison like all the other people who harm children.

    February 25, 2009 at 10:52 am |
  30. Muhammad Ali Farooq

    I am unable to findout the motive behind this crime... was that only sickness or immediate response of madness....

    February 25, 2009 at 10:52 am |
  31. me

    that,s said the kid is 11 yeards old give him a brake he could live longer

    February 25, 2009 at 10:51 am |
  32. Wicapiwakan

    I agree Tammy, child abuse in any form is still abuse. Certainly Jim, one could not compare the slapping of a child to the killing of one. But any level of abuse toward a child or any other person is still a violent act. If one slaps, kicks, or chokes a child, it is still a horrible and violent. Yes, while those types of abuses do not kill a child, abuse does have long term lasting affects due to interruptions in development. This woman ran over her child, but one has to conclude that this act was most likely the last violent act committed on this child in a series of other violent acts. Unfortunately, abusive people are often never caught because it stays behind closed doors. It is only when a child has the courage to tell someone that we find out, or when something tragic happens, like in this case.

    February 25, 2009 at 10:47 am |
  33. Regina

    Dori - someone who would do this to their own child is probably not capable of feeling remorse or sadness over the event. Why should taxpayers have to foot the bill to keep such a person in confinement when those funds could be put to much more worthy causes?

    February 25, 2009 at 10:47 am |
  34. Danita R

    My heart breaks, this is so saddening.......What is going on in society today? How many children have to die before we all take a stand? I'm praying for this nation. There is no excuse for what she did, and I mean none.....Lock her up!!!!!

    February 25, 2009 at 10:46 am |
  35. Jay

    You did not have to be so graphic, but I will agree with you. Tammy child abuse comes in many many forms. But this is not just another case this is a sick woman who deserves the same fate as her child got. Let someone run her over with an SUV so she can feel the fear that her son felt.

    February 25, 2009 at 10:45 am |
  36. Ya Boy in Louisville

    Let's not be too quick to judge! Everything happens for a reason. Nothing happens without God's permission

    February 25, 2009 at 10:44 am |
  37. BigJames

    I hate to play the devil's advocate here but this story seems to be incomplete. Who say's this is child abuse. There could be several mitigating factors as to why she ran over her son. She never tried to hide the fact that her son was hurt and even directed the police to the body. Don't try to sensationalize a tragedy. Find out the facts people before you judge.

    February 25, 2009 at 10:44 am |
  38. willie-Dennis

    Denni-i think that girl shoul get a long time cause thats not cool how coul you killed your own kid man

    Willlie- i hope she gets what she deserves cause i would never in my lifer try to hurt anyone

    February 25, 2009 at 10:38 am |
  39. Ned Watson


    If you saw what prison life is actually like, you would not feel that way. It is not what is portrayed on television. They have gymnasiums, libraries, etc. Also, if a person can commit heinous crimes such as this, do you really think they sit around and feel bad about it?

    February 25, 2009 at 10:38 am |
  40. Opinionated

    Gail you are correct..some people just dont need to breathe the same air..for example Tammy..

    sit in judgment, yea we are..if you ran your kid over we would be calling you psycho too..

    February 25, 2009 at 10:35 am |
  41. Jenny Ga

    She worked at DFCS. Good grief!!!

    February 25, 2009 at 10:35 am |
  42. Davis

    man they should just bring up the death sentence because man that is just crule

    February 25, 2009 at 10:32 am |
  43. shocked

    this is appauling! i know that sometimes being a parent is stressfull and tiring, and you just NEED a break! but a break in the form of taking your childs life is not acceptable. she of all people should know that having been a former cop and then working in social services. i hope they bury her UNDER the jail! my thoughts are with her family during such a hard time. i know this is painful.

    February 25, 2009 at 10:32 am |
  44. BettyAnn, Nacogdoches,TX

    Hello Gabe~
    Well, thanks for ruining my morning coffee. Very negative story and for what it's worth, @ Gail et all. Some people are simply a waste of oxygen period.
    Thanks for the blog~ XO and peace

    February 25, 2009 at 10:29 am |
  45. Dori

    Don't you think that instead of killing them, they should just suffer in a cell block somewhere? I think that is more punishment that any sort of lethal injection... Making them suffer through the rest of their life to remember what they did. That, my friend, seems like true punishment to me.

    February 25, 2009 at 10:23 am |
  46. Jim

    Child abuse is child abuse?? You have to be delusional if you think that slapping a child is just as horrific as driving a two ton vehicle over a child until his brains are splattered on the ground and bowels are forced out his anus. Are you serious? Your right... it is easy to stand in judgment.

    February 25, 2009 at 10:17 am |
  47. Just Me

    I agree with Gail

    February 25, 2009 at 10:15 am |
  48. Cindy

    I am tired of hearing about all these crimes against children. It just sickens me. Joshua Hagerman was 5 years old and was decapitated by his own father! His mother was injured trying to protect Joshua. Please visit http://www.rememberingjoshua.com

    The family is asking for donations.

    February 25, 2009 at 10:14 am |
  49. Gail

    I'm sorry! But, there are some people that do not deserve to breath the same air as the rest of us!

    February 25, 2009 at 9:56 am |
  50. Tammy, Berwick, LA

    Child abuse is child abuse even in its most horrific forms. While it's easy to sit in judgement against this woman and her family, the harder thing is compassion. A child was killed by his mother. A family will have to live with this forever. I cannot even imagine. My prayers are with them.

    February 25, 2009 at 9:50 am |
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