A 14-year-old Boy Scout fascinated with Satan had been considering suicide before a dispute in which he stabbed his mother to death, torched his parents’ house and then killed himself by slitting his throat, authorities said.
Thomas Sullivan Jr. and his mother, Betty Ann, 37, were arguing about his recent obsession with satanic rituals and folklore when he suddenly flew into a rage, Morris County prosecutor Lee Trumbull said Sunday.
The prosecutor said the teen attacked his mother during the Saturday night dispute, stabbing her repeatedly with his Boy Scout knife.
After killing his mother, the teen went into the living room and placed several books on the occult in a ring on the floor, Trumbull said. He piled newspapers in the center and then set the papers on fire, Trumbull said.
Mrs. Sullivan’s body was found at 10:30 p.m. Saturday in the basement by her husband, Thomas Sullivan Sr., and their son, Brian, 10, who were awakened by a smoke alarm at the family’s home in a quiet area of Jefferson Township.
The scout ran from the house to a neighbor’s backyard, where he used the knife to slit his throat, officials said.
“We believe the fire was set by the boy to cover up the murder of his mother and to kill his father and younger brother,” Trumbull said.
The father and his brother escaped unharmed.
Detectives found a “suicide note” that was written by the teen-ager before the dispute with his mother, indicating the youth had considered killing himself before the argument, Trumbull said.
The note contained “Satan-like” symbols and “cult references,” he said, but he refused to disclose where it was found or what it said.
Thomas Sullivan Jr. had recently developed a fascination with the occult, particularly satanic rituals, authorities said.
“The parents were aware of the boy’s interest in satanic studies and were upset about it,” Trumbull said.