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. Madelyn

    I'd like to clarify the abortion questions. For those who believe that life begins at conception, abortion is murder. Quite simply, abortion stops a beating heart.

    No one would kill a new-born baby and call it a choice. How horrified are we of the mothers who give birth and then throw the baby in the dumpster! And yet, so many mothers (currently 1.4 to 1.6 million mothers per year in American) terminate a pregnancy just months before birth and call it their choice. These are babies too: they already have beating hearts, thinking brains and unique fingerprints.

    It is murder to kill any child, whether he is just an 11 week old fetus, an 11 minutes old new-born baby, or an 11 year old boy, as this unfortunate Samuel Utomeh.

    All life is sacred, from conception to natural death. This also means that we do not murder Sandra Renia Joseph, no matter how heinous we think her crime is.

    February 26, 2009 at 9:55 am |
  2. CEE BEE

    All I have to say about this and all the other unthinkable crimes that are happening now.....READ REVELATIONS...IT'S ALL IN THERE. THESE ARE THE END TIMES AND PEOPLE NEED TO STAY AS PRAYERFUL AS THEY CAN.

    February 26, 2009 at 9:54 am |
  3. BOBO

    I'm with all the rest of you

    February 26, 2009 at 9:52 am |
  4. GiGi

    The story doesn't say if she did this intentionally or not, so I don't know if this would be considered abuse. Maybe she accidentally ran over him? I guess the truth will come out in the end.

    February 26, 2009 at 9:44 am |
  5. John


    Bring back the death penalty in every state!!!! By putting these horrible people down we would save SOOO much money on them. Just think, it costs us 40,000 per prisoner every year, why should spend 40,000 a year on someone that doesn't deserve to live? If they can take a life of another they do not deserve to live just like the one they took. Let's end this deficit and put these prisoners down for good!!!

    February 26, 2009 at 9:39 am |
  6. reese

    Someone needs to learn how to write a better story cuz this doesn't tell me anything about what happened that day and why the mother did what she did etc........Where is the body in this story??? I just see the intro and conclusion. All i know is that a child was ran over by his mother and killed.... I need more!!!!!!!!

    February 26, 2009 at 9:37 am |
  7. Matt

    I'm not religious by any means. I have seen too many times where people do heinous acts in the name of their God but I truly hope that if there is something out there then this little boy is with them in a far better place.

    People often forget how precious life is and how easily it can be taken away.

    February 26, 2009 at 9:37 am |
  8. ChiCity girl

    also one more point:

    There is a very fine line between disciplining your child and child abuse. It is a fine line, albiet there is a line. Spanking your child, slapping their mouth for bad language, pulling their ear, putting soap in their mouth, refusing to give them dinner....

    those are all punishments i grew up with. they were not random acts of violence, i knew that my mother would slap me if i talked back to her. i knew that the punishment corrosponded to the crime. probably if my mother had just told me to stop, i would have ignored her. now i discipline my children the same way.

    however, starving your child, beating them so they bruise and bleed, actually physically putting them in harms way, that is abuse! There is a difference. As they always say.. "spare the rod and spoil the child!"

    February 26, 2009 at 9:33 am |
  9. Charles

    Sadly, our US government spends its time writing legislation against monkey ownership, rather than curtailing these types of crimes. I guess the government can't prevent her from running over her child with an SUV, but can they do something to stop the senseless crime and murder our country is now experiencing at the hands of Mexican drug lords? Ummm, yes, I think they can. Get to work Obama, the clock is ticking.

    February 26, 2009 at 9:32 am |
  10. ChiCity girl

    This report sickened by stomach. I cannot imagine a mother intentionally killing her child, much less running him over with a ten ton peice of metal!! And mutiple points of injury? What'd she do? Run him over and then back over him again? This is terrible.

    But i could care less what the mother was thinking when she did the heinous act, I feel terrible about what the boy was thinking. Eleven years old and murdered by your own mother, it is just so twisted and sad.

    I hope she is punished to the full extent of the law. And also mothers should realize there are other outlets to the frustration of raising a child before it gets to be this bad.

    God Bless that little boy

    February 26, 2009 at 9:29 am |
  11. Matt

    I may have been raised differently but there are some people who do not deserve to breath the same air that we do. The ability to kill ones own child baffles me. The mindset it takes to mentally prepare shows just how sick someone's mind is. I don't see the point in making them sit in jail and think about what they've done. Why wait? Just get it over with and be done with them.

    If she is guilty I hope they do not spend 10 years hearing her case and put her in the chamber. This may be a more barbaric point of view but after spending time in Iraq and Afghanistan I have seen how evil people can truly be and how they must be treated. These aren't normal, everyday folks. These are cold blooded, calculated killers who should see that actions have consequences.

    February 26, 2009 at 9:29 am |
  12. Vic

    What kind of a mother would do this to her own child. Must have lost her mind. She better be behind bars. who knows whos next !

    February 26, 2009 at 9:27 am |
  13. jessica lynn

    this is awful! a social worker!! someone who works with kids all the time killed her own son! this is horrid. i can't imagine what that little boy went through at the time of his death but wow...that's just horrible. i think for once i am speechless

    February 26, 2009 at 9:24 am |
  14. audrey

    This is a very sad story and I hope she asks God's forgiveness because she will need it. Although, that little boy is in a better place, I wish we knew why she did that, but we will probably never know. I don't see how someone can do that when they made their profession to protect people.

    February 26, 2009 at 9:20 am |
  15. Mike

    Typical lame CNN reporting. There is no statement as to why the police believe this was not an accident and no statement of motive. CNN: If the story isn't ready to go to press except as a sensational anecdoate, don't bother to publish it!

    February 26, 2009 at 9:18 am |
  16. Donald

    Let me guess.... Depression?? Grow up! There are thousands of people that deal with depression every day and they don't go kill thier kids but then again... one person gets off easy after they do it and that immediately opens the door for others to do it.

    America needs to have a zero tolerance policy for crimes against children. Let the groups who say it's cruel and unusual punishment stop and think! Was it cruel and unusual for that little kids own mother to take his life? To that little boy, she was God.

    America is getting soft on what used to be unthinkable crimes because they are becoming the norm.

    We keep seeing more stories like this involving children and until we stand up and fight, they will continue to happen.

    Not saying that they will stop completely but they would be more rare!

    I sometimes wish lynch mobs were around still. I would offer to lead this one!

    February 26, 2009 at 9:18 am |
  17. Derrick SFC RET USA

    Between Mothers who drown their babies,
    Do not report them missing for 30 plus days,
    to out right criminal acts,
    truly cloud and confuse the World.
    I trust that God has plans to match their efforts.

    February 26, 2009 at 9:14 am |
  18. Phil

    – @ Jim –

    Re: Jim February 25th, 2009 10:17 am ET

    Tammy; Child abuse is child abuse??

    No Jim, I think perhaps you've missed the point.

    I do not believe Tammy was trying to minimize the fact that running over a child vs. slapping a child is greater or lesser of an action.

    The point I believe she was trying to make was; abuse is abuse, no matter what form or how big or small. Elevating the level of abuse is entirely different.

    You can't get away with "I just slapped her, it was no big deal". The fact is that you used an aggressive action. It is no different than pulling a gun out on someone...even if the gun is empty. It is the action in what you are doing.

    An empty gun is the same as a loaded one. The victim doesn't know the difference and the court will see it exactly the same way.

    What this woman did was absolutely wrong. Now she will have to live with the choice she made. Others will have to live with the choice she forced upon them.


    February 26, 2009 at 9:12 am |
  19. SGT Rock

    WOW! This is insane. What is wrong with people these days!

    on the other hand.....

    The next time my 14 year old catches and attitude and decides he wants to get mouthy with his mom I'll show him this article.....

    February 26, 2009 at 9:11 am |
  20. INLOVE

    All I have to say is the Lord is soon to come, so get your life together

    February 26, 2009 at 9:02 am |
  21. Susie

    What a sicko!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    February 26, 2009 at 8:52 am |
  22. Louisiana chic

    She is oh so wrong for this. From what I heard she was in a mental hospital not too long again. If that is true then she might have been off her meds or something to that nature that mad her snap then she might not even get the sentence that she deserves. She might just get sent back to the mental institution.

    February 26, 2009 at 8:51 am |
  23. dawn

    Give my prayers to the little boy in heaven

    February 25, 2009 at 4:33 pm |
  24. Roxy

    I hope this woman get the death penalty and her body buried underneath the prison. Life is too good for her. People like her make me sick and they don't deserve to see the light of day.

    And to those who think that spanking or slapping a child is "abuse": WRONG. There is a big difference. There are some people who take it too far, but most people don't. If you don't believe people me look at the billions of people who have lived and are living that were spanked. It is all a matter of why and how you do it. Knocking your kid unconscious= abuse, Smacking them for saying something smart=is not.

    February 25, 2009 at 2:39 pm |
  25. Barb

    I own a SUV...I would love to run over her and see how she likes it!
    Sick B*tch!

    February 25, 2009 at 2:39 pm |
  26. Mike

    Some of you need to get over yourself. To some people abortion is the systematic and deliberate extermination of a child, with absolutely no consequence to the killer. It is the act of an immature, irresponsible, and completely heartless person to take the life, or even so much as harm, an innocent child.
    If you feel that abortion is both socially and morally acceptable then you have no place posting about this story. You are as sick as the mother who ran over her son.
    Try and watch an abortion, or even view the remains of an aborted fetus (I have) and then tell me how this is not a horrific crime that needs to end.
    Don't spew your hypocricy on this blog otherwise.

    February 25, 2009 at 2:38 pm |
  27. Tana

    I can't believe people bring their children into this world and they take them right out by killing them. There are so much people in the world that can't have children and here we have these stupid people killing their own children. I mean damn if you don't want you kid, give them to someone that would love and take care of them don't kill them. It just pisses me off when I hear about this kind of crime.

    February 25, 2009 at 2:36 pm |
  28. Shana

    There is no end to human suffering nor to human cruelty.

    February 25, 2009 at 2:34 pm |
  29. Hudson

    This is absolutely terrible! To think that a social worker of all people would resort to such rage! I'd like to know more details, like what provoked her to do this.
    I'm not saying this to offer her an excuse, but I would expect that her years as a Social worker... all the depravity and disgusting people this put her in contact with might have finally thrown her over the edge. Kinda like post-traumatic stress.

    February 25, 2009 at 2:31 pm |
  30. brenda

    i dont know what to say to be honest this story is unreal
    how do we know she didnt mean to run him over hmmmmmm
    but she may have tho i dont know so i cant judge
    ya what she did was wrong and wont ever leave her and her family and poor child you know?
    but ......i dont kow its just sad that in this world kids are going missing and dieing for no reason
    then we got kids killing there father or friends mother
    i dont know i think we should be there for are kids and show them good and let them pick it up form there....

    god bless

    1 love..

    February 25, 2009 at 2:30 pm |
  31. Danielcrew

    Did I miss something? It doesn't say anything that she did it on purpose. She looked for help and lead them to her son. What did I miss?

    February 25, 2009 at 2:24 pm |
  32. MD

    I'm sick of hearing about parents killing their kids! It should automatic death penalty for anyone convicted of it. Those that argue for them to sit in jail and think about their crime and that's supposed to be torture or punishment enough, that is false. For them to commit such an act they are not human or have feelings. What do they care? Kill 'em.

    February 25, 2009 at 2:15 pm |
  33. eggnay

    If you know you can't be a mother you should get A ABORTION AND THEREFORE PREVENTING ALL SORT OF CHILD ABUSE PERIOD.

    February 25, 2009 at 2:11 pm |
  34. JP

    Amen, Gail!!!!!!!

    February 25, 2009 at 2:10 pm |
  35. Debi Welland

    Good heavens. God did not ALLOW this, or GIVE PERMISSION for this horrible act. We have free will, to do evil or not to do evil. Don't blame God, blame the insane person, the one with no conscience, who did the act.

    February 25, 2009 at 2:04 pm |
  36. TJ

    You know, this is sad. This was a kid...not a teenager, not some clownthinking his parents owed him something...a kid! It sickens me to see just how far down we as a country have gone. There is no excuse for this...and I hope she is punished severely for herr crime.

    February 25, 2009 at 2:01 pm |
  37. Ronnie

    Tragic and inexcusable. Civilization has reached a new low.
    Only 1 question remains: WHY?

    February 25, 2009 at 2:00 pm |
  38. Jay

    No different then abortion, are you kidding me?!!!!
    what planet do you live on? Abortion is leagle last time I checked, running someone down with a car is muder. Totaly different.
    As for Tammy you honestly beleive that you breath better air then the rest of us because you have a different opion then the rest of us. WOW are you sure you were not in the car with this sick woman?
    And ok the kid may have had some problems, that is a reason to kill him? What about the hundreds of people in prision, that kill, start fights, rape, molest, kidnap, rob and all kinds of sick stuff, I don't see any of their parents running them over, because they may have been bad eggs. No they had their chance at life unlike this poor little boy who had his sprit snuffed out before he had the chance to find out who he really was.

    February 25, 2009 at 1:59 pm |
  39. Ty T.

    It's a sad day when you read that an adult has run over a child especially when it's their own. You wish you really knew the reason why and what could make anyone do this to another human being...so sad. I really think that people should really think about having children...it's not for everyone. May that child rest in peace.

    February 25, 2009 at 1:56 pm |
  40. Elizabeth

    children are pricless. stop killing them america. NOW

    February 25, 2009 at 1:55 pm |
  41. DavidL

    What a pig.

    February 25, 2009 at 1:53 pm |
  42. Frank

    That's right "Big James" you never know if it was a scene out of the Omen....

    February 25, 2009 at 1:52 pm |
  43. Liz

    Tee–I don't think anyone is suggesting that somehow the child deserved it. I think Big James was saying that this article really doesn't explain motive or the circumstances enough to jump to murder, and that it could have been accidental. As someone who drives an SUV, the blind spots can be awful and kids can be particularly difficult to see, and they can be bad about looking out for cars as well.
    I agree that this is a tragedy, I just don't think there is enough evidence presented here to claim that it was intentional homicide.

    February 25, 2009 at 1:52 pm |
  44. Bonnie

    I read some of these comments and while I agree with some, I don't understand some reasoning. I don't care about being judgemental because it is my right to be. I have zero tolerance or sympathy for this woman who murdered her child. She deserves jail or worse. So many people blame it on so many things like a sickness. Remember Andrea Yates who mythodically murdered all five of her kids and ultimately got only hospitalization. This only means that one day she will be released back into society and continue her life while five innocent children no longer have a life. She should be in jail and get the help she needs in there. This woman will probably plead some kind of insanity or sickness and probably get a similar sentence. I have not an ounce of sympathy for her, only for the child who did not ask to be born in the first place. She made that decision. She could have done so many other things if she thought she might harm her child. Lock her up and throw away the key.

    February 25, 2009 at 1:50 pm |
  45. Stuart

    Ya Boy in Louisville February 25th, 2009 10:44 am ET

    Let’s not be too quick to judge! Everything happens for a reason. Nothing happens without God’s permission
    Ya Boy in Louisville:

    You are an idiot. And, yes, *god gave me permission* to say that.

    February 25, 2009 at 1:47 pm |
  46. Henry

    An eight year old kills his father and family friend. A eleven year old kills his father' s girlfriend who is pregnant with his sibling. Now a mother runs over an eleven year old. "TIMES ARE NIGH" folkes."LOOK TO THE HILLS.....

    February 25, 2009 at 1:46 pm |
  47. Mike

    Don't pass judgement yet. A full investigation needs to happen before we can accuse her of any guilt. For all we know they're circumstances that might prove her innocent. Stop making conclusions without knowing all the facts and stop trying to make this into something it's not.

    February 25, 2009 at 1:43 pm |
  48. sparks

    What everybody doesn't seem to understand "why do they have children they don't want or why don't they give them up for adoption" the answer is a simple one these women who abuse and or kill their children are self centered it's all about me me me they get pregnant probably by accident but they get attention from it then they have the child the attention goes to the child which angers the mother they then abuse and the child dies giving it up for adoption isn't going to happen because they would be looked at badly for that and they can't handle that some people of course get sick and lose control of their thinking which leads to the question where were the people in their lives to let this happen most of us have families friends somebody to say hey your not acting right what's up people need to not be so shy when it comes to pointing things out to people we don't always notice changes in ourselves you need to speak up sure they might get upset with you but they will get over it especially when they start noticing what you pointed out it may take a few times but if you don't someone could get hurt.

    February 25, 2009 at 1:41 pm |
  49. Mike, Syracuse NY

    Save the cost of a trial. Just drag her out on the street and run over her with her own SUV.

    February 25, 2009 at 1:41 pm |
  50. Ralph

    carrie- I have no words, are you for real or joking? You must be joking, comparing abortion to running over an 11 YEAR OLD KID!!Come on, seriously!! Some of these posts are quiet frightening!!

    February 25, 2009 at 1:39 pm |
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