Pictured: The mother shot dead by her 10-year-old son after 'row over collecting firewood'
5th January 2011
The 46-year-old, identified only as Deborah McVay, was found dead in her living room from a single gunshot wound in Big Prairie, Ohio. Her 10-year-old son has been charged with murder
This is the mother who was shot dead by her ten-year-old boy at their family home in a case which has shocked America.
It is believed the juvenile had argued with her after being asked to collect some firewood.
The pair had argued over household chores, sheriff's deputy Nathan Fritz suggested yesterday.
He said: 'There may have been an argument over whether he should bring firewood into the house and possibly it escalated from there.'
Four weapons were found in the boy's bedroom.
On his bed were the .22 calibre rifle believed to have killed his mother and a 12-gauge shotgun. On a gun rack mounted to the wall hung two more .22 rifles.
Police were called to the house, in rolling farmland, after a neighbour called to say the boy had come to her home and said he had just shot his mother.
The neighbour told an operator: 'I'm her neighbour. I'm over here. She's bleeding from her head.'
When asked if she was breathing, the neighbour answered: 'No, she's bleeding.'
'The neighbours came over and got me and said the mom got shot in the head,' the neighbour said.
Family members have told authorities that the guns were a present from the boy's late grandfather.
'It's not unusual for boys of that age to hunt and shoot,' said Mr Fritz. 'I think it's unusual that those weapons were permitted to be in the boy's bedroom.'
Columbine killers Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold were just 18 and 17 respectively when they struck at their high school, in 1999.
Daniel Petric, 16, killed his mother and shot his father in Ohio in 2007 after they confiscated a video game. He told them to close their eyes, because he had 'a surprise for them'
A boy of eight killed his father and a lodger with a rifle after vowing that his 1,000th spanking would be his last.
Cheyenne Alexis McKeehan shot and killed herself in March last year after mistaking it for a Nintendo Wii game controller.
The boy lived with his mother and 15-year-old sister - who was present at the time of the shooting - in the small one-storey dwelling.
Another son, aged 21, described his mother as a 'loving lady' who worked with children with disabilities.
Several relatives live nearby in Big Prairie, which is between Columbus and Cleveland, including the boy's grandmother.
The investigation has unearthed previous disciplinary problems in the ten-year-old's life, but no serious violence.
In September 2007, the boy was disciplined for hitting his elementary school principal in the face and chest with a dustpan.
The principal had been escorting the boy to the gym for a 'time-out' after he had been disruptive in class.
The boy appeared in court in Millersburg on Monday and entered a not guilty plea.
His lawyer, Andrew Hyde, told The Times: 'We have entered a denial. He's not denying that he did the shooting, we are just denying the charge of murder.
Asked if the shooting could have been an accident, he said: 'I have got nothing to lead me to believe he initially tried to kill his mother.'
MILLERSBURG, Ohio (AP) — A 10-year-old boy suspected in his mother's shooting death argued with her beforehand about whether to carry firewood into their home, his uncle said Tuesday.
The boy, who had a gun rack mounted to his bedroom wall, has been charged with murder as a juvenile and entered the equivalent of a not guilty plea in court. His mother, 46-year-old Deborah McVay, was found dead of a gunshot wound to the head Sunday night in Big Prairie, a tiny rural town of rolling hills and fields in central Ohio.
McVay's brother, Tony Miller, said his nephew argued with his mother just before she died because he didn't want to carry in the firewood.
"He had anger issues, and she overlooked those anger issues," said Miller, who lives in Kentucky. "It was her son. She loved him very much."
Four weapons were found in the boy's bedroom after the shooting. On his bed were the .22-caliber rifle believed to be the weapon that killed his mother and a 12-gauge shotgun. On the gun rack were two more .22-caliber rifles, Chief Deputy Nathan Fritz said. Paramedics found McVay lying facedown on her living room floor, and she was pronounced dead at the scene.
It's a rarity for a young child to be suspected of killing anyone. According to FBI crime statistics, 11 children ages 5 to 12 were murder defendants in 2009 — 10 boys and one girl.
Authorities went to the house, a two-car garage converted into a living space, after a neighbor called a sheriff's dispatcher. The neighbor who called police said the boy came to her home to report the emergency. On a recording of the call, the dispatcher says, "I want to know what happened, tell him."
Then, after a garbled exchange, a voice in the background says, "I shot my mom. I shot her with a gun."
McVay had separated from her husband, Mike McVay, two weeks ago, Miller said. The guns found in the boy's room once belonged to his grandfather, but they were given to him by his father, Miller said. He didn't know when the boy received the guns.
Before Deborah McVay died, she had argued with her husband about the weapons' presence in her son's room, Miller said.
"She knew, and she did not like it, and she kept bringing the issue up about getting rid of them," he said. "But every time she did, there was an argument about it with the father."
Mike McVay could not be reached for comment about his wife's death.
The 10-year-old appeared in court Monday in an orange jumpsuit, his hands and feet cuffed. A judge ordered he remain in Richland County Juvenile Detention as authorities investigate the shooting.
"It's not unusual for boys of that age to hunt and shoot," Fritz said. "I think it's unusual that those weapons were permitted to be in the boy's bedroom."
The boy lived with his mother and 15-year-old sister, who was present at the time of the shooting, in the small one-story dwelling, Fritz said. An empty shell casing belonging to a .22-caliber rifle was found in the living area after the shooting.
Ron Martin, McVay's next-door neighbor, said he'd seen the boy using a BB gun in his backyard, like other children in the area, but never saw him use it inappropriately.
"He wasn't going around threatening people or anything like that," Martin said.
The investigation has unearthed previous disciplinary problems in the boy's life but no serious violence. In December 2006, Deborah McVay called the sheriff's office to complain about a school bus driver who disciplined the boy, Fritz said.
"He was being disruptive, and the bus driver had to stop the bus," Fritz said, "and grabbed him by the jacket and sat him down."
No charges were filed by the family against the driver.
In September 2007, the boy was disciplined for hitting his elementary school principal in the face and chest with a dustpan, Fritz said. The principal had been escorting the boy to the gymnasium for a time out after he had been disruptive in class, and the boy grabbed the dustpan when they reached the gym, Fritz said.
The incident was reported to the sheriff's office as an "unruly complaint" and was referred to the prosecutor's office, but sheriff's deputies didn't know the outcome.
Killbuck Elementary School Principal David Wade confirmed that the boy was a student there for years but wouldn't comment further. He deferred all inquiries to the district's superintendent, who didn't respond to a request for comment Tuesday.
The boy was transferred to Clark Elementary School, which specializes in children with behavioral problems or special needs, Fritz said. The principal at Clark Elementary also declined to comment.
Authorities do not plan to prosecute the boy as an adult, and his defense attorney plans to argue for the boy's release so that he can stay with a family member.
USA TODAY does not name minors accused of crimes when they are not charged as adults.