Autistic Boy Is Slashed to Death and His Father Is Charged
November 23, 2006
A severely autistic boy was found slashed to death in a bathtub in his Bronx apartment yesterday morning after his father called the authorities to report that the boy was dead, the police said.
“I’ve terminated the life of my autistic child,” the police said the father told officers who responded to the call.
Police officials identified the boy as Ulysses Stable, 12. His father, Jose Stable, 50, was charged last night with second-degree murder, manslaughter and criminal possession of a weapon, the police said. Mr. Stable has implicated himself in the homicide in talking to detectives, Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly said.
Mr. Stable called 911 at 6:21 a.m. yesterday from a police and fire emergency call box on the street outside his apartment building, the police said. The caller said words “to the effect that his son had been killed,” Mr. Kelly said.
Officers went to the 16th-floor apartment in the Kelly Towers where Mr. Stable and his son lived alone. The officers found Ulysses naked in the bathtub with his throat slit from under his left ear to the middle of the throat, the police said. Two large kitchen knives and a meat cleaver were found in the kitchen, the police said, and officers determined that the knives had been partly wiped off but still had some blood on them.
The officers also found a bucket in the bathroom filled with water and blood that, in tandem with wiping off the knives, “indicated that he had attempted to clean up the crime scene,” Mr. Kelly said.
As the details of the crime came to light, city officials said that Mr. Stable had been arrested several times —once for assault — and that the Stable family had a record of contact with the city’s Administration for Children’s Services.
Sharman Stein, an agency spokeswoman, said the agency started working with the family after receiving a recent allegation of neglect against the father, including a report that Ulysses was not attending school regularly. Earlier this year, the agency sought custody of Ulysses in Family Court, but subsequently agreed with a court order to provide supervision instead.
“We were providing services to and maintaining regular contact with the family,” Ms. Stein said. “We are currently investigating.”
According to people dealing with the family, caseworkers had been in the house and had seen Ulysses as recently as a week ago. The house appeared to be clean, and though the father had been home-schooling the boy, he had recently been persuaded to place him in a private school with the aid of the courts and the children’s administration.
The death stunned many who knew the boy and his father in Belmont, a residential neighborhood on the fringe of parkland that is home to the Bronx Zoo.
“It’s hard to celebrate Thanksgiving when you know your kids are fine and something like this happened to someone so close by,” said Louise Cassetta, 41. Julie, her 20-year-old daughter, lives with her children three floors below the Stables in the building.
Neighbors said Ulysses, who weighed about 280 pounds, and his father seemed inseparable. The father was always correcting his son, many said, pulling his hands away from people as he tried to grab them or keeping him from darting away. Ulysses rarely spoke but moaned or screamed and had a habit of eating grass, neighbors said.
Ms. Cassetta told of a recent incident when she was on the elevator with Ulysses and his father. “What is really vivid in my mind is I was in the elevator and the boy was trying to touch me in an agitated way, not in a friendly way,” she said. “He was bothered. The father kept pushing him against the elevator wall. He did it over and over. The boy was mumbling; he didn’t really have a vocabulary.”
She added of the father: “I could just feel the anger in him. I could sense the anger.”
Many neighbors said it was commonly known that Ulysses suffered from autism; city officials said he had a severe form. Autism is a neurological and developmental disorder affecting about one in 200 children in the United States. It impairs the ability to communicate and form normal social relationships, and patients often develop obsessions.
Gerard Petillo, vice president and a founder of Parents of Angels, a Bronx-based support group for parents of autistic children, said that he did not know Ulysses but that medications given to such children might cause excessive weight gain.
“It is very difficult raising any disabled child,” he said. “You can’t make play dates. You need special doctors, special schools, you can’t get just any baby sitter or leave him with a neighbor.”
The police said Ulysses had been in his father’s custody since he was 2. The mother did not live with the family, according to the police.
Mr. Stable had been arrested 10 times, the police said, including once in April 1993 and charged with assault and criminal possession of a weapon. Further details, including whether Mr. Stable was ever convicted of any crime, were not immediately available.
The police had been called twice to Mr. Stable’s Southern Boulevard address for reports of domestic problems, the police said. None of those cases involved Ulysses, the police said, but no other details were available.
AL BAKER and LESLIE KAUFMAN The New York Times
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