Wednesday, April 1, 2009

What Happened in the Revelus Home? 5-Year-Old Beheaded

revelus family tragedy

You may read my full post at, where I've included some updates. LINK.

I've been offline for a few days, and took a look at the news for the first time in a while. This story of carnage (fatal domestic violence Saturday) in the Revelus family of Milton, Mass.,--a 23-year-old stabbed his 17-year-old sister (Samantha) to death, decapitated his 5-year-old sister (Bianca, pictured) in front of a police officer, and then tried to kill his 9-year-old sister (Sarafina)--has me crying and nearly vomiting.

It sounds as though it's another case of a family not realizing that uncontrolled rage is nothing to take lightly, nothing a little extra loving will cure. The killer, Kerby Revelus, had been violent before, in trouble with the law, and another sister, who was not home during his bloody rampage, once called the police in 2004 after he punched her in the face, but she refused to cooperate with prosecutors and see the case through. I suspect she felt family pressure to drop the charges. She said she wasn't really afraid of him and he was just trying to be big and bad.

When are we going to learn to take people at their words and deeds once they show us they mean us harm? We can love them, but that doesn't mean we should avoid intervention, even if that intervention means an out-of-control loved one will be arrested and prosecuted. At some point we have to consider that the family members the violent members threaten deserve protection. If we refuse to get consistently angry and violent family members the help they need, thinking we can control them ourselves, then the day our worst nightmare comes to pass we can't claim to be shocked. Numb perhaps, but not shocked.

I say this, but the truth is that even if this family had pushed Kerby Revelus to get the help he needed, help may not have been available because mental health care for the poor in this country is nearly non-existent in some cities. In Revelus' state of Massachusetts, it was only last year that legislators passed a bill to get more mental health care for children. Revelus would not have qualified, however. Yet I must note that he'd been acting out since high school.

According to the video at (link), Revelus argued with a neighbor the day before (link). The grandmother was in the basement doing laundry while Revelus murdered 17-year-old sister and his 5-year-old sister. He was about to kill a third sister, age 9, when police shot and killed him. The children's parents were not home.

You can read CNN's story here, but has more details. The Boston Herald reports that the family moved to America from Haiti about five years ago. Photo from Yahoo News.

I can't process the information in my heart or head. This story is cross-posted with additional information at, (link).


underOvr (aka The U) said...

Good morning Vérité Parlant,

It seems eerie to say, "welcome back" after reading a story like this.

Given the state of mental heath care in the country, it would not appear that this individual would have gotten the kind of help required to possibly prevent a violent act.

I think that many African Americans and those of African descent are unaccustomed to seeking routine physical and emotional diagnostic treatment. It is only when a person is in dire need of emergency treatment that medical assistance is sought.

One can only hope that an incident such as this one serves as a wake-up call for those who are aware of a family member with violent tendencies.

I agree, the time for passivity must end.


Revvy Rev said...

I don't know how much more of this stuff has to happen before we provide funding and reform to the mental health industry. A lot of this does not have to occur.

Anonymous said...

Salt in the wound--as if this story needs to get any sadder--is that he will apparently be buried with the two sisters he murdered.


Vérité Parlant said...

U, what you say is so true about the black community being unaccustomed to getting help for mental health issues. I think many of us are embarrassed and some of us were raised to think you don't talk to shrinks you talk to Jesus only. I know I have people in my family who could use some time on a psych. couch but they think seeing counselors is for the weak.

Rev: You know how humans are, stick their heads in the sand like the ostrich until they can feel the flames on their tail feathers or see a snake's digging underground about to bite 'em on the nose. ;-)

PR, thank you. I read that when I was going over the story and opened with that information when I posted at BlogHer. I can't imagine the grief those parents must feel not only for their daughters but also for their son.


Hello there,

This is so terribly sad.

We have to stop ignoring mental illness in the black community.

These stories are not just situations where someone "got mad and blew up". We tend to discuss these news stories that way. The truth is that these are stories where black folks lived with INSANE family members for years and years and years until the unfathomable occurred.

Vérité Parlant said...

Lisa, thank you. You know we have so many euphemisms like "she's testy" or "he tends to lose his temper" or my favorite, "So-and-so is high-strung."

No, so-and-so needs to see a shrink and maybe get some meds.

And we also tend to think nothing of going to get a physical ailment checked out and understand that God knows we need doctors. But if it's a mental illness, I think more people in the black community want to say, "Take it to the Lord in prayer," and then pretend the problem doesn't exist.

We don't seem to be able to tell the difference between between folks needing an attitude adjustment and folks needing intense mental health treatment.

It's amazing that the first act of violence doesn't give us the big clue that we'll believe. Or are we so accustomed to violence that we don't see a violent rage as a sign of someone needing mental health care?

Over at the longer post on this at, some have commented that even when people see the light and get their loved ones into a program, most state laws let the person sign themselves out even if the doctors disagree. How should we address that?