Estranged Husband Kills Two Sons in Front of His Wife

While many of us fear the unknown shadow that is lurking around the dark corner or the idea of a stranger breaking into our homes and harming our loved ones, and we have every reason to be vigilant against such possibilities, statistics bear out the fact that we are more likely to know our attacker than not.

In 2009, 53.8% of murder victims were killed by someone they knew.  Even more disturbing, 24.2% were slain by a family member. One mother saw those numbers bear out in the most horrific and personal of ways this past weekend in Florida.

Victoria Flores Zavala watched as her estranged husband strangled and killed their two younger sons, ages eleven and twelve. Isidro Zavala also shot one of the two boys before turning the gun on himself. He ignored his wife’s pleas to let her sons live, and also decided to spare her life because, as he told her, he wanted her to live with the suffering. The couple’s oldest son, who no longer resides at the home, was not there at the time of the double homicide and suicide. Police say there was no reported history of domestic violence between the couple.

While perhaps rare, any instance of a parent harming his own children as an act of revenge or spite is shocking and garners national attention.  Most of you will remember the tragic story last year of a man named Josh Powell. His wife had gone missing and his two young sons were not in his custody.  During a supervised visit to his Washington state home, Powell barricaded himself in the house with his two boys minutes before the entire structure burst into flames, much to the horror of the social worker who had just been pounding on the door for access.

There is certainly mental illness involved in such cases, and some would say it’s simply evil at work. It is difficult to make sure that all necessary safeguards are in place when family members are going through such volatile events. Determined spouses or lovers or parents or children often find a way to make their violent statement. And now, another broken family in Florida is grieving.  I hope that the mother and her oldest son are able to find some comfort in one another, but their lives are never going to be whole again.


Previous Blog Posts:

Father and Son Receive Same Sentence for Different Murders

Two Murders and Two Mothers Who Must Turn in Their Sons

Violent Death of Infant Results in Only a 90-Day Sentence


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About jchasenovelist

Published thriller author, criminologist, and blogger.
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6 Responses to Estranged Husband Kills Two Sons in Front of His Wife

  1. Death by silence. If Victoria Flores Zavalathe had cried out at some point she would have been in a better situation to prevent the tragedy. I don’t know the case at all, but I can say with a great deal of confidence that she, as well as the rest of the family, has obviously been a victim of domestic abuse for a very long time. Getting out of an abusive life is actually more dangerous than staying in one. And, if she had killed him to save her children, the odds of her going to prison were very high. The average sentence for a woman killing her abuser is 17 years. Oddly, the sentence for an abuser killing his victim is less than 10. Yes, mental illness had a role in , as it does in most murders, but the man was obviously a raging sociopath.


  2. Jack Durish says:

    It is only natural to recoil in horror at such cases and then ask “Why?” Every sane person wants to put an end to the violence, but “How?” The only thing we seem to be able to agree upon is “When?” Now! Unfortunately, rational discussion is lost in the stampede of ideologues using acts of horror to advance their own causes. More guns! Less guns! More police! More prisons! Everybody seems to have a ready answer at hand and are almost over joyed at the opportunity to advance it.

    The problem is that we vent our spleen in useless arguments. People divide themselves into camps, pro and con on each proposed remedy, and begin shouting at each other across an unbridgeable ideological chasm. Once their spleen is vented, they decamp and return home to celebrate their imagined victories while the victims are left to mourn.

    This is why nothing constructive is ever accomplished.

    We need a new discussion, forged in a time of peace between acts of horror. How can we better solve our societal problems?


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