Chad Doermer Executed His Three Young Sons
Around 4:00 p.m. on the afternoon of Thursday, June 13, 2023, the 2800-person town of New Richmond, Ohio, lost its innocence, and a mother lost her three sons. Thirty-two-year-old Chad Christopher Doerman lined up his three, four, and seven-year-old boys in the backyard and executed them in front of his wife and fourteen-year-old stepdaughter, Alexis. His wife, thirty-four-year-old Laura, tried to stop him and was shot in the hand.
A Snapshot of the Doerman Family
Chad Christopher Doerman and his wife, Laura, lived in the 1900 block of Laurel Lindale Road in this small, peaceful city along the Ohio River located approximately thirty-three miles southeast of Cincinnati. They lived in a modest home; Laura was a stay-at-home mom, and Chad was the breadwinner.
Friends and relatives say Laura was extremely close to her three sons, Hunter, Clayton, and Chase. They also say the three boys were inseparable, always playing together and encouraging each other. The oldest son’s baseball coach affectionately described them as “a little pack” and talked about how sweet, funny, and caring these three children were. They also shared a love of baseball.
It is still early in this investigation, and possible that perceptions of Chad’s relationships with other family members have understandably been tainted by the horror of June 15. However, while Chad’s father, Keith Doerman, has described his son as a good father who loved his children and “snapped,” accounts of friends and neighbors have not been so rosy.
One of the neighbors. Jim Kimcannon has publicly stated that Chad Doerman continually mistreated his wife and children. “He was angry every day. There wasn’t a day he didn’t yell at his wife and kids out there.” A records request to Clermont County Children’s Protective Services found “no referrals, requests, complaints or calls referring to Chad Doerman or his address” although one neighbor said he observed an angry Chad “tossing a couple of them [the kids] around in the yard one day.
Even people who described themselves as Chad Doerman’s friend were aware of his volatility. “He had a bad temper, really bad,” says Doerman’s friend Mark Holland. “I think he was a bomb ready to explode.” In 2010, he was arrested for domestic violence after allegedly choking his father. The charge was dismissed on August 26, 2010, after the victim failed to show up in court; Keith Doerman now says that the incident was just a misunderstanding.
The Unthinkable Tragedy Unfolds
The first 9–1–1 call came in around 4:15 p.m. Dispatchers heard a woman’s voice — later identified as Laura — saying that her babies had been shot. At the same time, a woman driving by saw a teenager with long blonde hair screaming and running down the street with a small, black dog. She was headed for a nearby firehouse. It was fourteen-year-old Alexis.
When the woman stopped to see what was wrong, the teen screamed that her stepfather was “killing everyone in the house.” The good Samaritan tried to get the terrified teenager in the car, but she refused, saying she did not want to leave her family. Alexis continued toward the firehouse while the woman driver dialed 9–1–1. The authorities swiftly responded, and what they discovered at the scene was beyond comprehension.
The body camera footage of the responding officer captured the chilling calmness of Chad Dorman as he sat on the porch with a rifle, seemingly unfazed by the horror he had just inflicted upon his family. First responders, on the other hand, were clearly shaken. The footage, a heart-wrenching glimpse into the aftermath, showed law enforcement officers struggling to comprehend the brutality of the crime as they attempted to secure the area and provide medical assistance. No amount of medical attention would revive the children. In a surreal moment, you could see the trauma and raw emotion on the faces of first responders while the perpetrator sat there stone-faced and seemingly unfazed.
Searching for Answers
Chad Dorman was arrested without incident and brought to the Claremont County courthouse, where he reportedly gave a full confession. Clermont County’s chief prosecutor of Municipal Court, David Gast, said during Doerman’s arraignment Friday that one of the boys tried to flee into a nearby field but Doerman “hunted” his son down and brought him back to their home before killing him.
He also told investigators that he had been planning the murders for at least three months. We don’t know what exactly that means. Did he start thinking about killing his kids then? If so, why? Is that when he made the decision? If so, did he ever have second thoughts? While helping coach his son’s baseball team, did he know that his boy’s games were numbered? I don’t know if we will ever have the answer to these questions.
What he did certainly only required a little preparation; he used a Marlin Model HC .22 rifle, a gun often used to hunt squirrels or other small animals. It’s not hard to imagine that this was a gun he already owned. Clearly, he didn’t have any intention of trying to get away with it.
We know that, on June 11, four days before the murder, Doerman seems to have changed his profile picture on Facebook to an image of his three young sons. He also posted several photos of himself with the boys recently, one showing Doerman and his three sons giving a thumbs up. Looking back now, this somehow seems ominous.
Unraveling the Motive
Some people have speculated that Chad Doerman intended to kill himself but that police responded before he could act. I don’t buy that. How many seconds does it take to put a gun to your head and pull the trigger? He managed to murder all three of his children and wound his wife, who tried her best to stop him, in a matter of minutes. He could easily have killed her wife or himself, the horrible carnage he left behind. But he chose not to.
What is the evidence that he was suicidal? His father, fifty-nine-year-old Keith Doerman, says his son has no history of mental illness. While there has been some mention of a possible drinking problem, even that does not seem to factor into Doerman’s actions. He reassured arresting officers that he was stone-cold sober.
So far, Chad Doerman has not given a motive, so we are left to speculate. I think there are clues, both in Chad’s crime scene behavior and in looking at the motives of other fathers who have killed their children. When it comes to Doerman’s murders, he not only did not kill his wife, he executed their children in front of her. He obviously wanted her to witness their execution and to live with the devastating impact their loss would have on her.
Alexis reportedly told police that, several months before the murders, her mother had told Chad that if he “kept drinking and causing more issues with neighbors because of being drunk,” she was going to divorce him.” It doesn’t take a rocket scientist (or a psychologist) to speculate that, judging by how he carried out his crime, he must have had a tremendous amount of rage toward his wife. And his children became weapons against her.
What Kind of Father Would Kill His Own Child?
In 1960, psychologist Philip Resnick conducted a thorough literature review and came up with five motives to describe filicidal parents; fatal maltreatment (the death is an extension of ongoing child abuse or neglect), to get rid of an unwanted child (most common in newborns or children under one), partner revenge (payback for marital conflict and/or separation), psychosis (the parent is delusional and kills the child while having severe mental health symptoms), and “altruistic” (the parent acts under the distorted belief that the child would be better off dead, often due to a parent being suicidal or facing overwhelming financial pressures). There have been other ways to slice and dice these motives, but they essentially ring true today.
Even though fathers are just as likely to kill a child as mothers, most filicide research has traditionally focused on mothers. When we look at what is available on filicidal fathers, we see similar motives at different rates. In other words, both men and women may kill a child while experiencing severe mental health symptoms or out of anger/revenge; however, female filicide perpetrators are more likely to be mentally ill. There is also a dramatic gender difference between anger/resentment over marital conflict/threat of separation as a motive for a child’s murder (12 percent of women versus 42% of men).
A 2022 South African study sheds some interesting light on the psyche of parents who kill a child to punish the other parent. After evaluating twenty revenge filicide perpetrators (fourteen men and six women), here is what they concluded:
“We therefore postulate that the sense of loss of social identity and the anger experienced by the murdering partner becomes an overwhelming, blinding rage that is all-encompassing. The murdering partner with a propensity to control and blame (external locus of control) becomes enraged by the pain they experience. The blinding anger, which in some instances is described as narcissistic rage, is caused by extreme emotional distress. The accumulation of overwhelming negative emotional experiences leads to a desire to cause pain at all costs, sometimes sadistically, to ensure reciprocal justice balance.”
In other words, take an already-controlling partner who blames all his problems on others, throw in increasing marital issues and the threat of separation, and you might get a parent so blinded by his emotions that his children are no longer people; they are pawns.
The Bottom Line
According to investigators, Doerman has given a full confession. Chad Doerman is in jail on a $20 million bond, the largest ever issued in Clermont County. On June 22, 2023, he was indicted on twenty-one charges, including aggravated murder charges for the deaths of his three sons, kidnapping, and felonious assault. He will be back in court on June 23.
Those are the facts. A tiny bit of relief amidst a sea of grief, pain, loss, and anguish. This horrific crime has touched so many — Laura and Alexis, everyone who knew and cared about this family, the first responders who tried so hard to help, the local community, and thousands of mothers and fathers who saw the pictures of the beautiful boys who loved each other and were loved by so many.
I find myself looking at the pictures of these precious children over and over. As much as I research and study violent crime, there are some that I don’t think I will ever truly accept or understand on an emotional level. This is one.