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February 25th, 2009
09:38 AM ET

Cops: Mom runs over son

Sandra Renia Joseph was charged with first-degree murder.

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. trixie

    all u can say is pray for her he is at peace now in heaven

    February 25, 2009 at 12:11 pm |
  2. Drado

    What on earth would make a mother do this! Give him away to someone that would love him. Maybe someone needs to run over you so you can feel what you put your child through, a child in which God gave you for a short amount of time! God be with you is all I can say!

    February 25, 2009 at 12:10 pm |
  3. BettyAnn, Nacogdoches,TX

    @ Tammy~ You have a point. We should not judge. So is it and eye for an eye or 2 wrongs don't make a right?
    Either way, we need to get her crazy butt off the street.
    peace to all~

    February 25, 2009 at 12:07 pm |
  4. jamie

    Just to FYI everyone-i not here to judge anyones opinion or write about my own. (there is not enough info in this article to be able to do that); however, I am here to let those of you who think that the death penalty is a quick, easy, and inexpensive fix, are actually incorrect. If you look at the facts and do some research on the matter, you will find that with our system the way it is, the death penalty costs almost double the amount as someone spending life in prison. They are allowed more appeals, etc. which result in alot more costs to our government.

    February 25, 2009 at 12:04 pm |
  5. Vera

    Yes, this is a horrific story and it is very sad that this has happened; but it is one in many that have recently happened. This lady just used an unacceptable too (in our eyes), she didn't use a gun. This society has pushed keeping unwanted kids, then forced these unprepared and emotionally unstable people to be parents. I have to guess that if this woman had not been pressured by society and religion, she would have had an abortion – if she had listened to her needs – which would always be greater than those a child's. That's how it is in many families folks, just a fact. She was not able to cope, and she broke. How did the kid get in front of the SUV; was she on her last nerve and having continuing disciplary problems when she snapped?

    But here we sit as self-righteous judges, with no words of wisdom for what can be done to reach these burdened souls. Where are the anti-abortionists that say life is so sacred but aren't there to help the unwanted children who supposedly benefit from their piety. The woman was working, she was trying; but something broke. Instead of condemning her, maybe we should start asking why these parents are falling apart and killing their kids? Are there warnings that we should be heeding?

    People are killing their families all over this country and Republicans want to cut government spending. How can we reach these people if we don't create programs to help them. And, if we don't want to pay for the programs, well that's okay I guess; just cut the judgemental crap when this stuff happens. And, am I angry? You bet. Reading the comments really ticked me off. This woman has been left out to dry, just as was her child. In this society, we want the ugly to stay out of sight. It's okay to be poor, going crazy, suffering; JUST DON'T LET US SEE IT. Isn't that our motto?

    February 25, 2009 at 12:04 pm |
  6. David

    YOUR SAYING THE KID WAS A BAD EGG SO HIS MOTHER KILLS HIM FOR THAT. SO IF KIDS STATRS FIGHTS WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO RUN THEM OVER. ALL KIDS GO THROUGH A STAGE WHERE THEY DONT LISTEN ITS A PART OF GROWING UP BUT SADLY THIS YOUNG MAN WILL NEVER GET A CHANCE TO GROWUP NOW. THIS WOMEN IS A MURDER AND DESEVES TO DIE.

    February 25, 2009 at 12:04 pm |
  7. Jim

    This is an abominable crime. However, I am intrigued by the level of surprise and outrage. Women kill their children every day...by aborting them before they are born. However, there is little outrage expressed at these mothers. How is this crime so different from mothers who kill their children before birth?

    This crime is similar in magnitude and scope to one that has become widespread and mainstream among many mothers in America.

    February 25, 2009 at 12:03 pm |
  8. Maggie

    So he was a bad, maybe even a rotten, kid. She should have taken other actions instead of running him down and killing him. Guess she must have lost it. So very sad when it ends tragically. But even a kid with a rotton attitude doesn't deserve what he got.

    February 25, 2009 at 12:03 pm |
  9. Joanne

    Jail and/or the death penalty are too good for "people" (and I use the term very loosely) like that. I think the best punishment would be for this animal (and all other animals like her) to experience the same thing her poor son experienced. An eye for an eye... If more and more criminals faced the same punishment that they dished out, things may change.

    February 25, 2009 at 12:03 pm |
  10. Sad Dad

    Again, where was the father in all this? Maybe she was a single mom and maybe she wasn't. But family in America has fallen apart and with that the very fiber of America. It's like a cancer it eats away from the inside out.

    February 25, 2009 at 11:59 am |
  11. Bill Ewaniuk

    Very sad what the world coming to and when a mother does to there our child is even worse of them all god will handle this like he always does and god bless the family..

    February 25, 2009 at 11:58 am |
  12. BEV

    She needs to go to prison and everyday she needs to be taken out
    in a large suv and hit by this vehicle to let her remember and fill
    what this child ( her son) went through.

    February 25, 2009 at 11:57 am |
  13. angel

    It's time to execute these child abusers. No rehab will help this monster or a prison sentence to justify why she killed her innocent child. Where was social services . I am sure she had a history of abuse before this horrible incident. Lets hope she never gets out of prision.

    February 25, 2009 at 11:55 am |
  14. Lena

    That's awful, he's not like a dog or something that you can just run over, even an accident. Who would kill their own son?

    February 25, 2009 at 11:55 am |
  15. Tee

    BIG JAMES!!!! THAT KID COULD HAVE BEEN THE DEVIL AND THAT WOULD STILL BE NO REASON TO DO HIM ANY HARM!!!!! A PARENT IS SUPPOSE TO LOVE AND PROTECT. THERE IS NO REASON, IF ANY, TO DO WHAT SHE DID TO HER CHILD!!!!!!!

    February 25, 2009 at 11:54 am |
  16. Null

    Dori, I agree with you. Death is too easy. Let her live out the rest of her life in prison, let's see how she fares among other women who want to see their children and can't. Maybe she'll feel remorse some day, maybe she won't. Killing her won't change that. Her ultimate punishment will come to her after she dies, anyway. Let her live with what she has done.

    February 25, 2009 at 11:52 am |
  17. Lavender B

    Again, I am baffled as to why or how anyone could kill their own child. And in such a horrific manner. That poor child having his last image of life be of his mother killing him with her car! God Bless you Samuel!

    February 25, 2009 at 11:50 am |
  18. feb1958

    This happened in my community. The mother told the child to get out and she ran him over. So yes, it is murder. She is very definitely out of her mind but she had so many other options. She had family who could have helped her and the boy's father is married and was being denied visitation – he could only see the child in public places and had not seen him since last fall.

    So to those who think it was not murder – please visit the following websites – Theadvertiser.com or Dailyworld.com – they are both local papers and have the story.

    February 25, 2009 at 11:49 am |
  19. Liz

    This woman deserves to die not just locked up!! i would never hurt my son i would rather kill myself first!!!

    February 25, 2009 at 11:47 am |
  20. Ralph

    I guess when the kids are small enough you leave them in the car to die and when they get older you run them over??So many parents getting tired of their children and coming up with elaborate ways to get rid of their kids!! Some people really need to be scrutinized before allowing them to have children!

    February 25, 2009 at 11:44 am |
  21. lydia

    people like this need to go through what they have caused the hurt. why would you do something to someone else that you would not do to yourself? How could any parent hurt what they created? its just wrong and she needs to pay. a child can not protect themself let alone getting hit by him mom and a car.

    February 25, 2009 at 11:42 am |
  22. jynx

    i am from St. Landry Parish, and what the article doesn't tell you is that Samuel was a bad egg, starting fights, always getting in trouble, not listening to authority, mother could not control kid any more. they got into a fight after he would not obey, and well you know the result. I am not saying she is right, she is definitly wrong. But Samuel was not a good kid.

    February 25, 2009 at 11:41 am |
  23. tle

    Wait a Second! This article doesn't say Why or even if it was just an accident. It only says she ran him over. It could have been an accident but she is charged with murder. Innocent until proven guilt. In this case, not an enough info. to warrent getting upset.

    February 25, 2009 at 11:40 am |
  24. Teresa

    Very interesting. We have the kids killing the parents and now the parents killing the kids.

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

    I agree... she must be mentally ill to have done this and she needs help. Sad part is: she aint gonna get help. : (

    February 25, 2009 at 11:39 am |
  25. Paula

    Tammy-It is very easy to sit in judgement on someone you know absolutely nothing about when they have done something so horrific. If you actually believe the air you are breathing is healthier when you are advocating a killer you are very dillusional and very sick to ask people to make donations to someone like that. Nothing in life is free not even killing a child. I am tired of people asking for money every time there is a tragedy it is put on the news and then immediately someone is asking for donations. Give me a break! That is like all of the people sending money to Casey Anthony in jail i truly believe that people in the US have completely lost their minds if they will support an idiot who took her childs life so she could party.

    February 25, 2009 at 11:39 am |
  26. Dave

    We should run her over until she is dead. Let the punishment fit the crime

    Women admits guilt and we need to waste thousands of dollars on a trail and jail time to feed and cloth this women AND give her medical care?? Lets skip all that and get right down to the punishment and do to her as she did to her own child.

    Nuff said

    February 25, 2009 at 11:39 am |
  27. Gary

    I agree with BigJames and everyone else that has been posting about the lack of facts in this story. The minute I finished reading the article I started thinking "where in this story is the incriminating evidence?". I know its obvious the child was hit with the car, but even in an accident you would have blunt force trauma from the initial strike to the vehicle, not to mention the force of hitting the ground.

    Honestly I dont see why they are charging her with anything yet, she was very honest and didnt seem to be trying to hide anything. She also instructed the person who whitnessed the accident to call the police and didnt try to leave the scene of the crime or anything like that.

    I cant say for sure what happened or what she was thinking but I for one am not sure she actually do anything out of spite but merely was involved in an accident.

    February 25, 2009 at 11:39 am |
  28. Aaron

    I think it's a horrible crime. I guess she didn't like him anymore, and figured her position as his mother gave her the right to be the deciding factor regarding his right to live. Look, she was honest about Susuki-ing her son. She's just way out there. I'm sure she'll suffer. The death penalty would really be the easy way out in this case.

    February 25, 2009 at 11:38 am |
  29. Juls

    It is very sad...Considering she works for Social Services.. Why didn't she get help.. for whatever was happen at home.. or???,, Get help people.. Before u SNAP...Please leave the children out of your problems...They are innocent......Sad .. Very Sad.. for that little boy!.

    February 25, 2009 at 11:38 am |
  30. Nate

    Deb,

    People on death row are fighting for their lives because it is human nature, ever heard of Darwin? Also, there are groups out there such as the Innocence Project who sometimes provide false hope for these people. No matter what you think you know about prisons it is no place I would want to spend the rest of my life even with the gyms the libraries, and "play time." Oh and just so you know 1 out of every 7 inmates executed since 1976 has later been found innocent. I am not an opponent of the death penality and yes for her crime she probably does deserve it...however since this woman is a citizen of the United States she is afforded certain rights under the Constitution. I am an opponent of those rights getting trampled on. It is not a perfect system by any means but it is what we've got.

    February 25, 2009 at 11:37 am |
  31. linda crockett

    Whatever would possess a mother to do that to her child is beyond comprehension, but the fact that she was charged with first degree murder seems pretty clear that she did not offer evidence of an accident. The terror that poor child must have felt in his last moments breaks my heart.

    February 25, 2009 at 11:36 am |
  32. Keith

    Am I missing something here, where in this article does it mention this child was abused. He was murdered and she comes out and admits it, put the needles in her arms and let the juices flow. She doesn't have any remorse she ran over her child and murdered him.

    February 25, 2009 at 11:35 am |
  33. Jim

    Wicapiwakan, no one is denying that some coward who slaps his kid should be dealt with or that it is not child abuse. The point is that just like most things there are degrees of severity. That why this woman is charged with murder and the worthless human that slaps a child is charged with something less. My point to Tammy was that don't minimize the act that occurred by giving me child abuse is child abuse and that the murder's family is going to be affected. But thanks for the explanation that I could have copied out of a Sociology 101 book in undergrad.

    February 25, 2009 at 11:35 am |
  34. Paula

    I believe that a jail cell is too good for people who kill anyone but especially children. I think that someone who murders should be put to instant death without a trial or sitting in the lap of luxury in prison the person they killed did not get that chance. There is no justifiable reason to kill a child and the insanity plea is way over used. It is the selfishness of the person who did not want to be bothered with the responsibility they brought into the world. Children do not ask to be born it is the ignorance of the parents that does that. We could do away with alot of wasted tax dollars if people who break the law actually had to work when they were in jail like they used to have to on the chain gangs. I go to work every day and the worthless pieces of crap sitting in the American jails are definitely no better than i am. They should have to grow their own food and everything else to get by no luxuries.

    February 25, 2009 at 11:33 am |
  35. eddie

    R.I.P. joshua. may god comfort the family of him. remember where little joshua is now. he's in peace with god he is watchin over us all, with a host of angels. one day his family will see him again. god bless his family

    February 25, 2009 at 11:33 am |
  36. Allen

    This is why kids should be with their fathers, they are most likely to be safer with them then anyone else.

    February 25, 2009 at 11:32 am |
  37. Sad Dad

    Where was the Dad in all this? Maybe she didn't want to give him up for adoption because she didn't want to loose here child support payments? It's possible?

    February 25, 2009 at 11:30 am |
  38. scott

    vengence is mine sayeth the lord, live by the sword die by the sword

    February 25, 2009 at 11:29 am |
  39. Ken

    LG, very right. This is a story that's missing alot of detail. Ever hear of innocent until proven guilty? Do police charges always hold up in court? The woman certainly isn't allowed to speak in her own defense yet. So saying this is murder is irresponsible police behaviour and sensationalist reporting.

    Oh wait, she's black. Must be guilty. sheesh

    February 25, 2009 at 11:25 am |
  40. Iekoop

    There is nothing in this article about child abuse or a history of her abusing her son. We don't know if that is a factor. We really don't even know, by reading the article, that she in fact murdered her child other than the fact that the police arrested her for first degree murder. There are no comments in the article about her confessing to intentionally running her son over. Now, maybe the police have evidence to suggest murder, but haven't released it yet and if that is the case, she should be executed. There is no reason why us taxpayers should pay for a child killer to breath, eat 3 meals a day, and possibly educate herself or get a degree when she committed such a heinous crime. However, until all the facts are made public, I will not assume anything.

    February 25, 2009 at 11:21 am |
  41. Lynn

    Its horrible that a 11 yr old has died. As one had written doesnt seem to be a complete story here yet so it will be interesting to see what comes out. However reading these comments I see what has been a long long debate and for whatever reason felt like adding my thoughts. There is a HUGE difference between discipline and abuse. Children today seem to be unruly, and disrespectful to adults, teachers and parents. Why? No consequence for their actions. They have everything phones, ipods, computers, games, they are not monitored and.....we as parents dont check up on them as we should. Please folks dont confuse discipline for abuse there is a difference. And saying things like smacking your child is abuse....is why we have so many out of control kids that turn into criminal adults.

    February 25, 2009 at 11:19 am |
  42. Ben Gee

    Death penalty , on day of conviction. Do not waste one penny on housing criminals like this in prison.

    February 25, 2009 at 11:18 am |
  43. Chula

    I agree with BigJames. The article did not include many details and Sandra did cooperate with police when they got there. There is the possibility that this could have been an accident. If it was intentional, however, I feel she should be confined to a cell 23 hours a day with pictures of her son plastered all over the walls so that she is constantly reminded of what she did.

    February 25, 2009 at 11:17 am |
  44. Tammy, Berwick, LA

    And sitting in judgement bashing people you know absolutely nothing about makes all of you better because?
    Thanks for the laugh. I'll be breathing with those who have compassion for all humanity. The air is a lot mentally healthier over here.

    February 25, 2009 at 11:16 am |
  45. LBW

    Sadly child abuse has been going on since the beginning of time. People were known to have killed their children and bury them in the back yard. And no one said anything. In the eighties social services became a witch hunt for child abusers. If you spanked your child and it left a mark then you were an abuser. I got my legs switched a few times, but I was not abused. Today because of media we hear of situations and we are horrified. People who kill children should be killed. They are the same as a rabid animal and should be eliminated.

    February 25, 2009 at 11:16 am |
  46. Huh????

    Cindy – Joshua's father decapitated his son and you and her are asking for donations??? For what – his legal defense fund? So he was suspended from his job after he butchered his little boy. I'm supposed to feel sorry for him? This isn't the forum for you to ask for donations for a child killer. I'm not sure any forum is appropriate in that situation.

    February 25, 2009 at 11:16 am |
  47. Mike

    This is sick. I hope they put her to death! She isn't even a human now.

    February 25, 2009 at 11:14 am |
  48. TC

    talk about a case of " I brought you into this world and I can take you out ! " and did just that . I myself could never do that to anyone . People like that will end up in PC in jail , if they are smart .

    February 25, 2009 at 11:13 am |
  49. donna in miami

    i dont see where in this story its eludes to child abuse...was there a history reported saying that there was previous child abuse? i believe this story is twisted...someone said they saw "front end" damage to the SUV and ASSUMED it was murder? how can that be figured if that witness did not even see the accident?..I believe the woman told the authorities she was the person who it her child, because that is what was her nature and being responsible...as to saying anything else about the incident, she probably was in shock and still is, and said nothing more Now there are "stories"...whomever read into this story and goes off on rant about child abuse, re read the story! how does this turn into child abuse from an accident. the Media has a way of starting rumours and then taking off with it and convicting
    someone without knowing all the facts...with all the excitement that spins around the story, everyone gets lost in the media perpetuation and looses sight that this women is INNOCENT until proven guilty. where's the proof, even in this story? and when soneone gets hits by a car or truck, BY ACCIDENT AS WELL, there is going to be several points of blunt force trauma...so how does this turn into murder? she had to have said something more....something smells fishy...

    February 25, 2009 at 11:11 am |
  50. Chris

    I love it. Chris Brown gets lambasted for beating Rhianna and nobody makes a big deal that women WAY more than men kill their own kids. If Domestic Violence is a Man issue than whacking your kids is a woman issue, yet because she is a woman, nobody cares.

    February 25, 2009 at 11:11 am |
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