A teenage boy will soon be released after years of intensive probation he served for killing his own father and his father’s friend in Flagstaff, Arizona, when he was just 8 years old. On Friday, his 18th birthday, he will sign paperwork that will make him a free man.
Because of his age of the time of the killings, the killer’s name has not been released.
In November 2008, the boy’s father Vincent Romero, 29, and Romero’s friend Timothy Romans, 39, were shot dead with a .22-caliber rifle, according to The Associated Press. Detective Debbie Neckel and Sgt. Lucas Rodriguez responded to the crime scene where they found the 8-year-old boy, who told them, “My dad, my dad. My dad's dead. I think my dad’s dead.”
The officers discovered the boy’s dead father on a staircase inside the home, and his friend Romans’ body outside on the porch. Neither officer thought that the child was responsible for the death of the two men. In fact, police eyed multiple suspects before it was revealed that the child did it. The child himself confessed to the killings.
"We had one focus — literally one focus — to get the name of the killer," Neckel told The Associated Press, expressing her shock when the killer turned out to be the boy. "It was supposed to be an adult. And we were supposed to go out and save the day and get (the boy) out of danger."
Neckel knew the child from the neighborhood. After his confession, she told The AP that she cried.
The only motive for the murders that police could come up with was the fact that he was allegedly spanked for neglecting to bring home a behavioral report from school. However, there was no conclusive evidence of abuse in the home.
CBS News reported that during the child’s confession, he said, “I think I shot my dad because he was suffering. […] I didn't want him to suffer."
There was reportedly no attorney for the child present during that confession.
Even though the boy, now a teen, will be off probation in a few days, he won’t be unsupervised. According to the Daily Beast, he will be in a foster home for the immediate future. Then, he will continue to undergo treatment until age 21.
"I can't give up on a kid," she said. "I hope that releasing him isn't the worst mistake ever made. But he was a little kid. You have to give him a chance."