All The Theories On What Led Serial Killer Jesse Pomeroy To Murder

Jesse Harding Pomeroy, who is commonly referred to as "The Boy Fiend," has the dubious distinction of being one of the youngest serial killers in United States history. As reported by the Radford University Department of Psychology, Pomeroy committed his first known murder at the age of 13. By the age of 14, he was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison.

A native of Charlestown, Massachusetts, Jesse was born to Ruth Ann and Thomas Pomeroy on November 29, 1859. CBS News reports Jesse Pomeroy had a difficult childhood. At a young age, he developed a white film over his right eye, which altered his appearance and made him a target for bullies. Throughout his childhood, Jesse was routinely bullied and teased by older classmates. He also suffered abuse at the hands of his father, who often struck him with a horse whip or a leather belt as punishment. On many occasions, the boy was forced to remove all of his clothing prior to the painful beatings.

He tortured small animals and other children

Jesse Pomeroy eventually became a bully himself and specifically targeted children who were younger and weaker than him. He had also begun torturing and killing small animals. As reported by CBS News, Pomeroy's mother was aware he was bullying younger children and harming animals. However, she thought the behaviors were related to the bullying he suffered and an overall sadness the boy seemed to display.

In 1871, authorities in Chelsea, Massachusetts, began receiving reports of children being physically and sexually assaulted by an older boy. CBS News reports the victims all told a similar story. According to numerous accounts, the older boy approached the children as a potential friend and lured them to secluded locations with promises of candy or money. Once they were alone, the older boy tortured them and fled the scene.

According to Radford University, the attacks were particularly brutal and included physical beatings, sexual assaults, and stabbings. The older boy even attempted to remove the genitalia of a 6-year-old boy with a knife.

If you or anyone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, help is available. Visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network website or contact RAINN's National Helpline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).

Jesse Pomeroy beat and tortured at least eight children when he was 12 years old

In an attempt to identify the attacker, authorities published a description of the older boy in the Boston Globe. As reported by CBS News, Jesse Pomeroy's mother immediately recognized the boy described in the article as her son. The family moved to South Boston to protect him from being identified and arrested for the crimes. However, the move did not change the boy's behavior, and he continued his violent rampage.

Radford University reports Pomeroy beat and tortured at least eight children between December 26, 1871 and September 17, 1872. All of the crimes were committed when Pomeroy was only 12 years old. Pomeroy was identified and arrested when one of his victims described his unusual right eye. He was ultimately convicted of assaulting eight children and sentenced to Westborough's State Reform School. As he was a minor, Pomeroy was to be released from the reform school when he turned 18.

He committed two murders at the age of 13

Although he was sentenced to remain at the State Reform School until he was 18, Jesse Pomeroy was released to his mother's care on February 6, 1874, at the age of 13 (via Radford University). The following month, he killed 10-year-old Katie Curran — his first known murder victim. One month later, Pomeroy killed 4-year-old Horace Millen. As reported by Historic Mysteries, authorities suspected Pomeroy was involved in the murders and called him in for questioning. In addition to confessing to the murders of Curran and Millen, he claimed he killed 27 other children. However, those claims were never verified.

Pomeroy was charged with, and convicted of, two counts of murder. He was subsequently sentenced to death. However, as he was only 13 when he committed the crimes, the sentence was eventually reduced to life in prison. It is unclear what motivated Pomeroy to commit the heinous crimes, especially at such a young age. However, there are numerous theories that may explain what contributed to his state of mind.

He may have experienced mental illness

Although he was never formally diagnosed, it has been suggested that Jesse Pomeroy may have had some form of mental illness. One possibility is that the illness was inherited. However, CBS News reports there are no records that anyone else in Pomeroy's family was diagnosed with mental illness.

The bullying Pomeroy was subjected to in school, along with the abuse he suffered at the hands of his father, have also been suggested as the reason he developed such a strong aggression toward other children. It has also been suggested that his violent tendencies may have been sparked by jealousy. In addition to the defect in his eye, Radford University reports Pomeroy had a larger-than-normal body and unusually large facial features. He was also born with a cleft palate. According to CBS News, it is possible that Pomeroy was jealous of those who were more conventionally attractive and took out his aggression on them.

If you or someone you know needs help with mental health, please contact the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741, call the National Alliance on Mental Illness helpline at 1-800-950-NAMI (6264), or visit the National Institute of Mental Health website.

Jesse Pomeroy died at the age of 72

As reported by CBS News, Jesse Pomeroy enjoyed reading dime novels, especially those that featured stories of a violent nature. It has been suggested that Pomeroy was reenacting scenes from the fictional stories. However, there is no evidence linking the boy's behavior to any of the stories he read. It has also been suggested that Pomeroy may have had a personality disorder. Although he was never formally diagnosed, Pomeroy seems to have displayed a number of traits commonly associated with some personality disorders, including torturing and killing small animals, a clear lack of empathy or remorse, and habitual lying.

According to Radford University, Pomeroy was placed in solitary confinement on December 11, 1874, at the age of 14. He remained in solitary confinement until January 1917, when he was 54 years old. While incarcerated, Pomeroy wrote and published a book of poetry and an autobiography. He also attempted to escape on several occasions and pleaded for an early release.

Pomeroy died on September 29, 1932, at the age of 72. According to his obituary, Pomeroy was transferred to a medical facility prior to his death due to declining health. His official cause of death was listed as heart disease.