February 24, 2016
Jillian McCabe: Mother Who Searched For ‘Insanity Defenses’ Before Dropping Her Autistic Son From Bridge Gets Life In Prison

Jillian McCabe, a mother of an autistic child who searched the internet for "insanity defenses" before murdering the child by dropping him off of a bridge, has been sentenced to life in prison, Oregon Live is reporting.

On November 3, 2014, McCabe, of Newport, Oregon, murdered her autistic 6-year-old son, London, by dropping him off of the Yaquina Bay Bridge, 133 feet above the water.

Jillian McCabe autism murder
The Yaquina Bay Bridge. [Image courtesy of Cacophony via Wikimedia Commons by CC BY-SA 3.0]

McCabe, 36, had taken London for ice cream before parking her car and walking with the boy towards the middle of the bridge. She lifted her son, said "sorry," and dropped him over the edge without looking back, even when she heard a splash.

McCabe called 911 from her car and told dispatchers that she had thrown her son over the bridge after voices told her to do it, and that she was going to jump as well. Emergency crews in boats and helicopters found the young body of London McCabe after hours of searching about a mile from where he plummeted to his death.

Lincoln County District Attorney Michelle Branam said, "[H]e did not die from the impact of the fall; he suffered broken bones and ultimately drowned."

Relatives said McCabe had struggled with mental illness, caring for her son -- who was diagnosed with autism in 2011 -- and her husband, Matt, who was diagnosed with a lesion and tumor on his brain stem in 2013. She had started a crowdfunding campaign on Youcaring.com asking for $50,000 to help take care of her ailing family.

"If you are praying person, pray for us," she wrote online. "I love my husband who has taken care of me and my son for years. Now it's time for me to take the helm. I am scared and I am reaching out."

So was Jillian McCabe simply a good woman who cracked under enormous pressure? Branam doesn't believe so. She said the killing was a calculated one and planned to perfection. In the weeks building up to London's murder, McCabe had researched "Andrea Yates" over 60 times from her phone and home computer. Yates, a Texas woman who drowned her five children in a bathtub, was found not guilty and committed to a mental hospital in 2006.

Jillian even looked up the legal defenses of people who had thrown their children from bridges. McCabe threatened to take her life a few times to build her story. She voluntarily admitted herself to several mental hospitals, where she was evaluated and always released. According to Branam, "when it suits her she fabricates the symptoms, when she hears that she may be restricted from something she wants, she turns them off."

The family did not want McCabe alone with London because of her supposed mental health issues. But she increased her role in helping with his development, assisting him to potty train and getting him to communicate with picture cards.

This new-found change was responsible for her father-in-law allowing her to take London to get some ice cream, a decision that would ultimately cost his grandson his life.

McCabe appeared happy in jail before her sentence. She never mentioned her son's name and chose instead to discuss the books that she was reading, according to Branam.

"London's autism made him the 'perfect victim' for his mother, he trusted her totally and would not have put up a struggle even as she hoisted him over the railing to his death."

Matt McCabe said the loss of his son had left a large void in his life, and the sentencing of his ex-wife has not brought him any closure

"I trusted the judgment of the mental health professionals and did not believe my son was in any danger," he said.

Do you believe Jillian McCabe was truly mentally ill, or a cold-blooded murderer who simply didn't want to care for her autistic son anymore? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

[Image via Newport Police Department via The Independent]