Write a Discussion: Homicide, Assault, and Family Violence

Bobby Yurkanin’s 84-year-old father had Alzheimer’s disease. Bobby lived with his father for nearly nine years, meeting the elder Yurkanins’s needs 24 hours per day, seven days per week. In the years before his father’s diagnosis, Bobby cared for his mother through her struggle with terminal cancer. Friends describe Bobby as a dedicated caregiver who patiently helped his father through episodes of wandering, combativeness, sudden mood swings, and public disrobing.

Neighbors and friends reported occasionally hearing Bobby yell or curse at his father in frustration, but nobody had witnessed physical violence. Those familiar with the Yurkanin family history claim that Bobby, an only child, experienced a difficult and traumatic childhood. His father was an alcoholic who reportedly abused Bobby, his mother, and his grandmother. In addition, Bobby’s mother suffered frequent psychotic episodes related to a mental disorder. Bobby eventually left the tumultuous home, finished college, spent time in law school, and started a paralegal business. In the late 1990s, Bobby returned home to care for his ailing mother. Following Mrs. Yurkanin’s death, Bobby and his father sold their New Jersey home and moved to a condominium in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.

On a visit to a Florida beach, Bobby witnessed another episode of his father’s public disrobing. Although witness accounts vary, it appears that an exasperated Bobby dragged his father into waist-deep water in an attempt to put his father’s shorts back on. The elder Yurkanin fought Bobby, and during the struggle, the 84-year-old man’s head went underwater. Witnesses report that Bobby eventually pulled his father out of the water but are unsure whether or not Bobby (a skilled lifeguard) performed CPR once on the sand. However, many witnesses report that Bobby resisted any calls to 911 and refused an ambulance for his father.

The next day, Mr. Yurkanin was pronounced dead. An autopsy listed drowning as the cause of death. Several days later, Bobby was arrested on charges of first-degree murder.

Discuss this case in relation to elder abuse and neglect, parricide, eldercide, and the cycle of violence.

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