Autism Genome Project Phase 2
Youngster Drowns

John Odgren's Parents Speak Out

Lonely child The comments at the newspaper are particularly mean spirited, ignorant and troubling. From The News Telegram in Massachusetts. Please pop over there and read them.

 —  John Odgren stopped receiving invitations to birthday parties when he was a second-grader. As a child suffering from Asperger's syndrome, he was isolated and desperate to have friends, according to his parents, Paul and Dorothy Odgren.

While other children his age mingled easily with their classmates, their youngest son's social circle was small. His mother recalls having to intercede on his behalf.

“I begged the (other) mothers, ‘Please let your son come see my son,' ” Mrs. Odgren said. “He didn't know how to make friends.”

The ordeal of living with Asperger's, a form of autism, has been a lifelong companion for the Odgrens, who two months ago watched in a Woburn courtroom as their son was convicted of murder in the first degree.

A Middlesex County jury rejected John Odgren's insanity defense and he was sentenced in April to life in prison without possibility of parole for the Jan. 19, 2007, stabbing death of James F. Alenson at Lincoln-Sudbury Regional High School in Sudbury.

The 15-year-old angelic-looking freshman was stabbed in a school bathroom before the start of classes and his mother, father and two siblings never again saw alive the promising youngster they sent to school that day.

For the Odgren family, the loss of their son and brother has been a lifelong process. John Odgren, 16 at the time, and suffering from mental illness and Asperger's, took a kitchen knife to school and plunged it into James Alenson's heart. Fearful from the Stephen King novels with which he was obsessed, John Odgren believed that the 19th would be a day of doom — a fear that proved only too correct.

Two families will never be the same... Read the full story in the News Telegram.



goodness sake I'm 21 and have asperger's and I can tell you that this sort of thing would have never have happened in scotland. I got in trouble with the law around 9 months ago and a psychology report was requested by the sheriff and this report is stating despite the indictment being as serious that probation is the best method of disposal due to my condition. I think that john odgren should be supervised the rest of his life int he community as the risk to others is basically destroyed with the right interventions.


As a 37-year-old man with Aspergers myself, I know what this person was going through. I don't know exactly his life story and what propelled him to murder, but I gather he just got fed up with his life and simply stopped caring. Maybe he was being bullied. Maybe the school refused to help him. Maybe his parents didn't really understand him. Maybe he had issues that needed to be dealt with that nobody wanted to hear. Maybe he was simply told he should just fit in. Maybe he was told that he was a spoiled brat. I've been through it all. Though I never resorted to murder. But when I was in my teenage years, I purposely got myself hospitalized, twice. Nowadays, I have a job and all. I am settled and all. But still, I wonder how I will continue to survive. I can't seem to get jobs that pay much.

Maybe we need to teach these people to take their anger out on the organizations that are responsible - the health care industry, the school system, the entire system of money and power. Not through violence or murder, but simply through information and education. This is a kid who likely fell through the cracks. It's not that there weren't any signs. It's that the resources weren't there for him to use. Or if they were there, they likely were inadequate. The idea that this kid is going to spend the rest of his life in prison is appalling, but what about the others out there? The others out there who don't refuse to commit heinous crimes? They're suffering just the same. And what are we doing about them? Remember, most people with AS and other conditions are victims, not victimizers. This kid was likely both, a victim and a victimizer. The best thing we can do for this kid is to let him know that we are going to take fight with the system that refuses to acknowledge us.

The idea that you can't get a decent paying job because an HR associate looks the other way because you don't show good eye contact or body language? Come on. What is the world coming to? It's not a fashion show.

The entire economic and legislative system breeds sociopaths of all sorts. And you expect an individual with AS who has trouble fitting in in the first place to simply suck it up and act like a man? Well, this is what happens. The next time that you feel like saying something like that, then you're the one who should be in prison.

Aspergers does not breed violence. The system does. America was brought up on violence. It wages war for its own narcissistic interests. It cares only about money and rarely on the impacts it creates. Contemporary economics is global murder. And we are a part of that economy, whether we like it or not.

Nancy G-T

My son has aspergers and is a fully functioning young adult. He was bullied in elementary school along with other non asperger kids. He has been aware of his diagnosis since he was 12 and works hard to fit into the non asperger world. He has his ups and downs but is often more socially successful than I. This killer is totally different and I wish his asperger diagnosis were not so emphasized. He obviously has other more serious mental issues. He, through his parents, is painting a pretty bleak picture of kids with aspergers sydrome that is totally not deserved. Would Einstein walk into a bathroom with a knife and kill an innocent person? No!! His character was asperger in nature. My heart goes to the victim and his family who never got the chance to grow old with him. The killer was able to enjoy a free public education. That school should never never never have kept him there, or at the very least should have provided him with a one on one aide.

Theodora Trudorn

Being someone with both an MI and on the spectrum I would like to weigh in on this. I know, from personal experience that my PTSD and my Asperger's play off one another. When I go into flash back, or a suppressed memory returns to me, it sets off meltdown mode.

And my meltdown mode is extremely violent, to myself and all inanimate objects in the vacinity. I thankfully after years of training myself years ago have enough control to get out of a public place before I go off. I got only a 5 minute window though.

If I did not have that control, and someone else were in the room and got in my way by accident, I shudder to think what could be. And that is just with PTSD.

When you have a dual diagnoses like that, they play off one another. Imagine going into a mania and then the autistic meltdown gets kicked into high gear. This is an extremely dangerous situation for all involved.

To deny this is dangerous for all of us, including the ones they say they support, those of us on the spectrum.


I had never heard of this case until i stumbled on it on TV.... it caught my attention because my best friend has a child (3rd grade) that has just been diagnosed w/ Asperger' I am close to the child & find it hard to deal w/ him....however, I cannot imagine what it's like on a daily - 24 hour - basis. Shirley (my best friend) is a great mom... she has 3 other is a daily learning process w/ Asperger's.....

I am just soooooo sad & upset to see the outcome in this case........... to me..... it is crystal clear that the Asperger's played a major part in this tragedy........... The "callers" on the TV show convicted John way before the trial was over..... I truly hope that none of those folks - or others like them - are ever on the jury of someone that I know.... I just can't get over the "ignorance" of those that beleive this child should spend the rest of his life locked up in a "regular" prison..... The bottom line difference between Asperger's & other mental illnesses....part of the basic symptoms that are used to even diagnose Asperger's..... wow.... is the fact that their brain is not developed in the area of judgment.... they are not able to make sound decisions... not able to decide what is "right' or "wrong".... what is socially acceptable...what / how to act because they don't "feel" ....they don't have the capacity to "know"...or make decisions like normal children..... I believe the high IQ influenced the jury.... my friend's son is very smart...higher IQ than others his age, however,.... the Asperger's ...... that's the problem ..... of course, it's complicated even further by ADD, ADHD, & other "mental" diagnosis...... same as John.......... wow........ I am just in total shock as I type this........ My heart is troubled thinking that this child is in prison.....(i have worked in a maximum security male facility).....this is not where this child needs to be........... How does anyone say that John has sever mental illness, but he knew & should be held responsible for his actions.......... if he had wet his pants, it would have been explained away by his mental illness... that he didn't know what he was doing... - not that wetting his pants is in any way the same as another child losing their life - but.... either John was mentally ill or he was not.............. everyone agreed that he was............... I have my own very strong opinions about the material that he was allowed to read & fixate on.... I don't want in any way to seem that I blame his parents.....My friend & i have these conversations all the time..... we all know that we are what we eat.... & we are what we read/see/hear...... I beleive that the entire system surrounding him let him down......this is a tragedy on so many levels & i beleive that this is only the beginning of the tragedy for John........ my prayers are w/ him........ more than anyone can imagine........ my prayers are also w/ his sad...... very sad..............


The reason juries convict in this kind of case is that for too many years, people who were found not guilty by insanity, killed again when they were released. Most of us have grown weary of reading of the deaths of children by people who have killed before. As much as I sympathize with the parents of the killer, I don't want to jeopardize other children when Odgren is released. The jury got it right.

Emily Prince

Instead of analyzing what defense is defensible or whether John acted morally, I believe the issue is about children, especially those who suffer from extreme isolation and, in this case a condition which causes obsessive thinking, and great, great difficulties in understanding social interaction. I think it's heartbreaking to think of his obsessive fears and profound loneliness and isolation which led to that day. And of course it's equally heartbreaking to think of that beautiful and kind child who became his victim.

Without going into the neuroscience here, we know that until about the age of 25 we are not fully capable of the kind of judgement, self-control, reflection and other mental processes which we consider when judging the actions of adults. John's abilities were further impaired. More importantly, I believe, there is a place for mercy in the United States. If there is someone who deserves mercy it's this boy. Or maybe we are simply a merciless society now.


This article confirms my thinking that there is so much confusion and misunderstanding out there as to why people with autism behave the way they do. I have seen this in my brother, Scott, as evident by the perplexity of educators, coaches, teammates, and others working with him. It has been a tough battle, but he has made great strides through winning the Middle School Cross Country Championship, graduating from high school and moving on to college. He has been through numerous hospitalizations, but he continues to press on! He reminds me that people with autism DO have great potential, even though many of them are mistreated in big ways.

It's a huge battle - but I have definitely seen the "light at the end of the tunnel" in my brother and many other people who have struggled with the disability.


Autism Grandma

Right on Gatagorra!!! Regardless of all of the mounting cause and effect evidence regarding psychiatric medications and homicidal and suicidal behavior, the facts are denied and covered up by Big Pharma just like the vaccine facts are denied and covered up regarding autism and many other vaccine induced diseases and disabilities, including death. Here are my thoughts from previous posts I wrote regarding psyche meds being the primary cause in these increasing tragedies:

We do not know what kind of mind altering psychiatric medications this boy may have been on. We also do know that heavy metal poisoning and intestinal issues etc have a direct link to agressive behaviors and "insanity". He is of the age of all those poor children who were mercury poisoned by vaccines. It was known 200 years ago that mercury produced "insanity", and it is known today that many psychiatric drugs produce aggression and even homicidal behaviors especially in the younger people. All of the boys involved in the school shootings were on antidepressents and psyche meds without even having Asberger's or autism issues, so it just horrifies me to think of what all these psyche drugs are doing to young people on the spectrum. I forgot the name of the young man who murdered his own mother last year, but he was on several medications and I have no doubt that was the cause of him becoming so out of control---it was not his autism that killed his mother, but psyche drugs which can cause homicidal behavior in "normal" children.

So SAD the world we live in now, with our precious children being poisoned by vaccines and then adding insult to injury with toxic mind altering drugs.
The major issue however is the fact that NO autistic child should ever be charged with any crime according to their physical age, because their mental age and mental capacities are so much younger!!!!

I wish we could find out what kind of psyche meds these kids are on because NT kids on psyche meds are ending up in these school shootings, even some adults such as the Army psychiatrist who killed all those soldiers. Sherry Tenpenny and many other researchers have shown a proven link to the psyche meds, but even if this kid wasn't on any meds, these poor children are so frustrated and angry....If the parents can't get the government to get a grip on the vaccine industry and finally get with the program on biomedical therapies, this kind of horror story is going to become commonplace.

Over 20 informative videos regarding Psychiatric drugs on this website, but this one applies to the situation with children:

Prescription for Violence


So Gotogorra, he was on medication?
If he was on medication for his bipolar that would be a hard one, it would be impossible for him or his family to manage.
With Aspergers, no social clues, he perhaps not so aware of his own body, or emotions. So he could not be depended on to take his medicine when mannias did occur, and they did because they said he had bipolar. If the mannias are not controlled, and he was on prozac for depression - that would be crimnal - and that would not be crimnal on his part, but on the people that prescribed it. The medical establishment and we all know how they step up and take responsibility for any tragedy they may have caused.
I do not even want to think about what he went through or his family.

Like Yates that went psychotic and drowned her five kids, he will also go to prison.

Even though he had no knowledge of the act, or was not even aware that he was doing it, or even had control of what was going on. If he was psychotic.

Never thought of that, but I should have.

It is a tough thing.

Carol Brannaka

First of all Aspergers IS Autism, all research will tell you that. Aspergers kids are isolated, lonely amd often bullied to the point of painful frustration. They do not know how to handle it and it makes them SO angry. As far as knowing right from wrong, often they do not, as well every single person with Aspergers is very different from the next-teachers, pediatricans, day care providers need to be trained in this and sadly they are not.


Though schizophrenia could be "disturbing and disruptive" to the public, the condition was not hostorically associated with violence per se (schizophrenics were once statistically no more likely to cause injury to others than members of the general population) until it became the mass trend to drug schizophrenics with medications known to induce violence and suicide. The same thing is now happening with autism and it's going to make our children more of a target for abuse and reduce public sympathy for the plight of individuals with autism. The smoking gun was evident in this case as it has been in many others.

Until the public is made more aware of the fact that NT kids (and adults) are going nuts on certain prescription drugs and killing their families, themselves and classmates at a higher pace than children with autism (who are on meds), the press is going to spin it that when children with Asperger's on drugs kill, that it's really Asperger's and autism which are associated with violence-- not the pharmaceutical products. We've seen the pharma advertising conflicts and the conflicts of major media board members which explain why this happens.

The industry campaign to disassociate drugs from increasing trends in violence doesn't stop there: in many cases of prescription drug-induced violence, pharma descends to offer aide, counsel, resources, strategy manuals and expert witnesses to the prosecution to fight the "Prozac defense" or "med defense" in order to protect pharma products.

Here is Pfizer's "Zoloft defense" manual instructing how to rebuff defendents' claims that a drug well known to induce violent psychosis caused them to act abnormally:

Odgren was reported to be on meds as well and the defense in his case (as in Karen McCarron's case) did attempt to point to the drugs. Even so, Odgren's mother, a school nurse, and his biologist father may not have known the side effects. Many medical and science professionals entrenched in the mainstream are led to discount the risks and believe in the legitimacy of pharma's "answers" for autism. They may not have invested strongly in the defense approach or, like in Karen McCarron's case, may have met with tactical problems in using this defense put up by the prosecution (which could very well have had industry support).

"The defense said changes in Odgren's clothing habits, as well as changes in his sleep and speech patterns, may have indicated a problem with his medication that could have lead to a manic, paranoid state."

It's surprising that the information on Odgren's medications leaked through the press filters. Though murder defendents in the past could never expect "health privacy" protection (we knew, for instance, that OJ was on a certain drug during his trial which he stopped taking so that his hands swelled and did not fit "the glove"), pharma has lobbied to seal the medical records of defendents in potential drug-induced violence cases since the number of drug-induced school shootings has exploded.

The trend to seal medical records began after some victims of the Columbine massacre attempted to sue the makers of the antidepressants (which contain black box warnings) which Eric Harris took: "Taylor slowly is recovering from his wounds and, in an effort to bring attention to what he believes was the cause of Harris' deadly rage, has filed a lawsuit against Solvay Pharmaceuticals Inc., the manufacturer of Luvox (Fluvoxamine), the antidepressant that Harris had been prescribed and was taking at the time of the shooting spree."

The families of victims of the Virginia Tech massacre strongly protested the sealing (and then sudden disappearance) of Cho's medical records when news of his prescriptions got out:

"As usual, Mr. Cho did not say anything to Mr. Grewal. No good morning, no hello, Mr. Grewal said. Mr. Cho stood in the bathroom, brushing his teeth, wetting his contact lenses and applying a moisturizer...He also took a prescription medicine. Neither Mr. Aust nor Mr. Grewal knew what the medicine was for, but officials said prescription medications related to the treatment of psychological problems had been found among Mr. Cho’s effects."

There is a second article at the end of the New York Times article. This second article states that the records for Seung Hui Cho were missing from the University Health Center.

This extended to Sky Walker Steuernagel as well:

"Health privacy laws prevent authorities from saying which drugs were ordered for Sky, but photographs in the sheriff's investigative files show medicine cabinets and kitchen shelves in the home laden with bottles of prescription antidepressants, anti-anxiety drugs and tranquilizers."

There are many more cases like this:

"Last fall, at the start of her sixth-grade year, she stopped doing class work and her mother noticed self-inflicted scratches on her arms. On Oct. 1, she attempted suicide by overdosing on her depression medication and other drugs".

It's not a big surprise that the culprits who caused the epidemic are also making it worse.


I'm confused. What exaclty is mental illness? Someone with autism or aspergers clearly has a dysfunctional brain. Is that mental illness? Where exactly does mental illness start and aspergers ends? Isn't it really just brain damage. Let's just stop poisoning the children and maybe their brains will work properly. Very, very sad.


Jenny W, I don't think you can generalize that, "someone with Asperger's should know right from wrong." People with Aspergers are individuals, like people without Aspergers. This boy had a lot of other issues besides Aspergers.

How incredibly sad for both families.

Mark L. Olson

The article too closely ties together autism, Asperger's, mental illness, insanity and murder. In fact, it reads like the Asperger's led the boy to murder. The work to educate police, courts, media, first responders and others about what these illnesses are and how to handle them is SO desparately needed.


Jenny I understand your confusion.
I have an Asperger or PDD-NOS and then throw in Tourettes and epilepsy.

Then I have a daughter that become very easily aggitated, and irritable.

Also many people after a brain trauma - like car accidents and such when they get better - Anger is really an issue for them!

They have a short fuse or they have less control over thier emotions and anger is one of the worse emotions when it comes to controlling.

He is dangerous, he has little control, other people have a right to their life too though. So he needs to be instiutionalized.

Since they decide to close all the instiutions then jails and prisons had to take up the slack.

It is not much of a system.
Money needs to be set aside, instituions that are humane, needs to - be reinvented.

Untill then - if ever- there is prison.

Jenny Webster

Honestly --How are we supposed to feel about this?
Take away the Asperger's and I would say this is a child who should have been tried in the juvenile system --many reasons and years have formed this belief of mine.
Add in the mental illness and an insanity defense in JV court was appropriate.

But add in the Asperger's and you have a big old mess. Asperger's is NOT autism. And there is this big old blurred line out there b/c too many call it a "mild form" of autism. it is NOT.

It is my understanding that someone with Asperger's should know right from wrong. (Not talking about this case, b/c again, he is a child).

I don't know what I think about this.
I really don't. One one hand if and adult with Asperger's commits a murder, then do the time. But the world is so damn confused over what it Asperger's what is autism. It's a bloody mess.

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