Sleep My Darlings

The true story of a mother who killed her children in cold blood

What caused one woman to commit the most unthinkable crime of all?

On January 28, 2011, the Tampa Police Department received a phone call from a woman who was worried about her daughter, Julie Schnecker. A devoted Army wife and mother of two, Julie had sent her her an email that could be described as “suicidal.”

When authorities arrived at the Schenecker home, they encountered a horrific scene. Sixteen-year-old Calyx and thirteen-year-old Beau Schenecker were found dead–both of them shot, then covered with blankets. Upon questioning, Julie admitted that she was “tired of the kids talking back” and just “wanted it to be over.”

Had her manic-depression driven her to the point of insanity? Or was hers a case of cold, calculated violence and manipulation?

This is the shocking true story of motherhood, mental illness, and two charges of murder in the first degree.

“The police, when they get news of a crime, want to know: Who, When, Where, How? But the public wants to know: Why? Two-and-a-haf years ago, when I heard about Julie Schenecker killing her teenage son and daughter nothing was said about “Why.” Now, finally, in Diane Fanning’s chilling, grippingly readable, and richly informative book, Sleep My Darlings, we understand Why. Fanning takes us down the path that led this woman–from post-partum depression, through an ever-intensifying bipolar mood disorder, aggravated by her own abuse of alcohol and opiate drugs–and culminating, when her meager coping-skills were exhausted, in the murder of her two children. Part of the tragedy stems fom the over-protective new health laws that forbade the hospital-doctors from informing her Army Colonel husband about the full details of her mental illness. Fanning’s book also gives lie to the old French phrase tout comprehende c’est tout pardoner: to understand all is to forgive all. Not so. We must hope that at her upcoming trial, Julie will still be considered as dangerously mentally ill–a pitiable woman, yes, but–for the welfare of the community–a woman never to be released.”

Dr. Michael H. Stone Forensic Psychiatrist and Professor of Clinical Psychiatry at Columbia  

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