"Addicted" mother leads to child's death

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Windailya
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"Addicted" mother leads to child's death

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Mother faces manslaughter charge
Tue, Aug 19, 2003
'Addiction' to computer fantasy game may have led to child's death

By Kirby Sanders

The Morning News/NWAonline.net aEUC/ ksanders@nwaonline.net

SPRINGDALE -- Three-year-old Brianna Cordell died sweltering in a closed car, while her mother was engrossed in a computer fantasy-game, according to police.

Mary Christina Cordell, 36, was arrested Monday and faces a felony charge of manslaughter, said Brian Simmons, Springdale police spokesman. Cordell, who goes by her middle name, Christina, was being held in the Washington County jail Monday afternoon awaiting a bond hearing.

The charge is a Class C felony, punishable by three to 10 years in prison and a fine up of to $10,000.

Authorities said Cordell and her boyfriend, Eric Long, 21, may have been so fixated with the interactive game EverQuest that she neglected to pay adequate attention to Brianna's whereabouts on Aug. 8, the day the child died.

"The preliminary results of the autopsy indicate death by environmental hyperthermia. This information supports the initial claim as to cause of death," said Jeff Taylor, Springdale police detective.

Brianna was found dead in the front seat of her mother's car at about 3:30 p.m. in the parking lot of the apartment complex at 750 S. 40th St. She lived in an apartment with her mother, 9-year-old brother and Long.

Police said Brianna did not respond to resuscitation efforts at the scene and was declared dead upon arrival at Northwest Medical Center of Washington County in Springdale.

She was buried Friday at the Forest Park Cemetery on Randall Wobbe Lane in Springdale.

"We have cause to believe that there have been recent incidents where the child has been totally unsupervised," Taylor said.

"We also believe that on the day in question, Ms. Cordell was playing an Internet game, EverQuest, for a period of time exceeding two hours, during which she had no knowledge concerning the whereabouts of her daughter. It also appears this is not the first time the child was seen playing inside of a vehicle while unsupervised."

The interactive game, published by Sony Entertainment, is a swords-and-sorcerers fantasy game in which players develop characters who then interact via computer with other players' characters. The players create and navigate their way through a fantasy realm of warriors, magicians, quests and conquests with the characters themselves dictating the flow of the game.

Notes posted under Christina Cordell's name to a computer group called "Spouses Against EverQuest" say her ex-husband's attachment to the game was partly responsible for their divorce and that Cordell felt the game was "addictive."

A message posted on the bulletin board at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/spousesagainsteverquest/ dated May 5 under the name of Christina Cordell says, "I feel sorry that people get wrapped up into this and destroy their relationships. I just hope that one day they will wake up before it's too late and realize they are alone with no real friends and their family is gone."

Dr. Robin Ross, forensic psychiatrist at Ozark Guidance, said while there is no recognized "addiction" to fantasy games, according to the American Psychiatric Association, "it's possible for people to become addicted to just about anything -- just the Internet itself. If they are spending an inordinate time doing one thing, that can indicate addictive behavior.
 

Edited by: Windailya at: 8/20/03 6:50 am

tosha
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Re: "Addicted" mother leads to child's death

Wow that is just sad! I hate to say it, but I can see how one could become so engrossed in the game as to "forget" all else, including one's own child.

Sad!

Tosha aka Dawn

Enayla
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Re: "Addicted" mother leads to child's death

I was wonderin who was gonna start a thread on this... I was gonna, but Wind beat me to it.

I was checking out the spouses against everquest site. This is the scary part: the description of this lady, in the news article PERFECTLY matches the profile of the person in the message boards... I've read some of her posts from May on, and she's going on about how happy she and her kids are, once she and her x-husband split up, over the game.

God, I wanted to cry... WE have a 3 year old girl.... I sent my condolences to the family via the reporter.. Don't know if they will get there, but I'm hoping...

Geez.....

Saethan
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Re: "Addicted" mother leads to child's death

I like the last paragraph. It should be put in bold. And italics.

As somebody said on another forum, this is the same type of parent that would leave their kid in a car while they go shopping. I know I've heard stories of kids dieing from heat that way.

Also from the same thread, somebody said if the mother had been watching a 2-hour movie enstead of playing 2 hours of everquest, it wouldn't have even made the news.

Enayla
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Re: "Addicted" mother leads to child's death

Quote:Also from the same thread, somebody said if the mother had been watching a 2-hour movie enstead of playing 2 hours of everquest, it wouldn't have even made the news.

Trust me it has, and it will again. There's no difference in a neglectful person, be that movies, shopping, or EQ. Neglect is neglect is neglect. As is reckless endangerment. The problem with EQ: Why, how and when did that child LEAVE HER HOUSE, WITHOUT HER MOTHER SEEING IT and get into a closed up car? Because, when you are in the middle of a game such as this, you TEND to block out all that is around you. Plain and simple.

As a person who as played EQ herself, is a mother of a 3 year old, and the fiance of a gamer who is trying to come out of his EQ stupor, I can say this with certainty, FOR MY SITUATION: the game was NOT the root cause, nor the sole source of blame. I know there are people out there who can walk away from the game after satisfying their need for a short bout of escapism.. That level is healthy.. No worse, IMHO, than reading a book for a few hours..

It is unhealthy when it causes any parent, partner, child, co-worker to focus solely on that activity, and ignore the more important things around them, at that time. A person can safely put a book down, pause a VHS or DVD if a kid is crying and needs something. Very difficult to pause the world of Norrath for the same child, without getting yourself and your guild/raid mates killed... Which is more important tho?

Edited by: Enayla at: 8/20/03 5:07 pm

lizwool
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Re: "Addicted" mother leads to child's death

Thanks for the link to this article, and thanks for your responses.
I did not want to say too much, until I found out what really happened here.

After speaking with the detective who arrested Ms. Cordell, he told me that she had been playing Everquest, with her boyfriend, and never did she deny it.

I am sorry another life has been lost because of this game.

This is from another article: Quote:A history of negligent acts by Cordell persuaded police to recommend charges of manslaughter to prosecution, police said.

Liz Woolley

Enayla
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Re: "Addicted" mother leads to child's death

I did a Google search on Brianna's name, and here are the articles, in order of date, first to last, of the events surrounding her death.

We've all seen the last one, where it was made clear mom was playing EQ, so I did not include that one. But check these out. I get the feeling that mom was trying to hide what she was doing, during those two tragic hours that Brianna was gone.

If EQ is "just a game" and we (we= us here at Olganon) are "ridiculous" to think that this game can induce harm: here's the proof::
Most parents/teachers/guardians who've been in this situation of having lost track of a child, only to discover the worst has happened, fully, from the outset, admit to what occurred during that time. It just doesn't seem to me like Mom in this case did:

www.thehometownchannel.co...etail.html
(she said the baby wandered away....)

www.4rkidssake.org/AR1417.htm
(first report that she wandered away...)

www.baxterbulletin.com/ne...92797.html
(next report: coming to the surface that mom was neglectful in the past)

(Just thought this should be included)

Kensha
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Re: "Addicted" mother leads to child's death

Anybody can have a kid disappear. I had it happen to me, although without tragic consequences. I was at my mother's house, I went upstairs with a basket of laundry and when I came downstairs, I discovered that the dog had pushed the screen door open, and both the dog and my then-2-year-old son had gone out. I called 911, and after a frantic search, my son turned up at the clubhouse of the golf course behind the house. The total time from when I last saw him to when he was found was about 20 minutes-- but if I had been napping, or in the shower, or on the phone and missed that he had gotten out, it might have been longer. It's easy to blame people, and it is easy to think that you are better than they are, but bad things can happen to anyone.

This is not to excuse anyone for getting wrapped up in something and not checking on the kid, but to perhaps ask for a little compassion. People are so harsh and unkind these days, and I don't see the need to feed that vibe.

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Havneq Alwaysoom
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Re: "Addicted" mother leads to child's death

Quote:I am sorry another life has been lost because of this game.

Sorry to have to quote you on this Liz - but it was the MOST apt thing to quote...

notice the last few words of that quote -- because of this game

this is the thing I was talking about - *quit* placing the blame on the object - place the blame on the person - she chose to do this - it is *her* fault - not a games fault. It could have been any activity it still would have been *her* fault not the activity.

I am saddened by the loss, but please let's not all blow it out of proportion and go on witch hunt. Place the blame where it is due...on the person not the object.

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reply to above post

(sigh)

There are none so blind, as those who will not see...

Leveling in Real Life

Havneq Alwaysoom
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And there none so moronic as those who make assinine, profound statements such as yours to think they are superior to everyone else.

Face the facts people, unless you are too scared too. How many times must this country prove that it is the individuals fault? Music didn't cause suicides, McDonalds is not at fault for causing obesity, and a game did NOT kill someone.

Please come out of your protective little shell like worlds and face the cold hard facts. This woman (in my opinion) was very negligent, and in turn it lead to the death of her child. From a *choice* she made -- not from a game.

It is a sad ordeal no matter how you look at it, but please start thinking about what you are all saying. This is just another pathetic witch hunt.

Xandtar
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Re: reply to above post

I am superior to you.

I have confronted my inner demons.

You clearly have not.

And no, I've never played Everquest, nor shall I, so its not about any one game.

So get off your own high horse, cowboy, and I'll do the same.

"Asinine", indubitably...

Leveling in Real Life

Havneq Alwaysoom
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Re: reply to above post

I have no inner demons to confront; I don't hide anything.

And of course it's not about one game, nor did I ever say it was. It could have been ANY activity. Oh and sorry I spelled asinine wrong I was in a hurry, but if you want to be nitpicky to still show that you are better than anyone here perhaps you still have a few more "inner demons" of your own to confront.

Back to the topic -- before you decided to flame -- the fault should never be blamed on the object. The fault should be blamed on the person. If not then we will never learn.

Xandtar
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The cigarette companies would have loved to have YOU on a jury for a lawsuit, after all its always the smoker that chooses to smoke, there was nothing addictive about the product they sold.

Of course even the tobacco companies have been forced to concede the obvious, that their products are addictive and can cause cancer in some people.

I'm sure it doesn't matter to you that addiction to gaming is already a diagnosable condition by the DSM-IV, it must always be the person's fault exclusively.

How much research will have to be done, and how many people will have to die, before YOU are convinced? I cannot say, perhaps you never will be. Neither will you convince those of us who believe that Everquest bears some responsibiliity for this poor child's death.

So, all asinines aside, perhaps we can end this tepid "flame" by agreeing to disagree. All right?

Leveling in Real Life

Havneq Alwaysoom
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Re: reply to above post

Quote:Of course even the tobacco companies have been forced to concede the obvious, that their products are addictive and can cause cancer in some people.

And a game causes what type of physical damage to someone? Note we are talking a computer game.

The main difference, of course, being that tobacco is something that is actually harmful from the 1st time you use it.

And you are right about the DSM-IV. I tried to find anything relating to video games or any game for that matter, and I found none. Oh and please do try to compare gambling to gaming.

As for how much research has to be done? Well I think the U.S. Govt. has tried on numerous occasions to "pin the blame" on video games for a number of reasons. And guess what the result was.....well it sure wasn't a video games fault. So the question really should be how much research has to be done for you...not me.

Xandtar
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.

Of course I COULD compare gambling to gaming, in neither case is there a physically addictive substance, in both cases there is a withdrawal from reality, in both cases a person can completely abandon common sense... and in both cases people related to the addict can suffer due to their loss of control. Are the casinos and their corporate sponsors ever to blame for these ruined lives? Not by your reasoning.

(sigh)

But as I said in the first place, there are none so blind as those who will not see...

and right or wrong, I consider you one of them.

With this in mind, I leave you the last word, I have said all that I am willing to on this subject, and neither of us will convince the other of our views.

Leveling in Real Life

Havneq Alwaysoom
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Re: .

ahh and here we go with the blame game again

you consider me one of them...one of the blind because I refuse to conform to your beleif structure. Because I see the facts in a different way than you I am labeled by you. I sure hope you aren't in anyway one of the management members of this site. If you are you have a LONG way to go on people skills.

Kshali MourningMoon
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Re: .

Last weekend I went up to Orlando to visit a friend of mine who happens to also be an EQ player. As it happened, his 4 year old daughter (turned 5 yesterday) was at his house for the weekend as well.

Since Tim and I had stayed up really late talking and watching a movie Friday night, he asked me to watch his daughter while he took a nap saturday afternoon.

Well, his daughter loves EQ so with her sitting on my lap she told me what to say and what to kill and she clicked buttons. This was all well and good for about a half hour when she became bored with the game so she went to go play in her room.

I logged into my own character and got into a great experience group with more RL friends of mine from my homestate (EQ is a $13 a month way of keeping in daily contact for us after phone bills have reached $100+ dollars). While I could see Tim's daughter from where I was sitting in the living room, I wasn't paying "that" close of attention to what she was doing. OMG what a mess she made!

To keep the munchikin out of further trouble I bit the bullet and went and played "dolls" with her, then really bit the bullet and watched Pocahauntis or however you spell it.

I know now after this experience how someone could ignore the kids to the point they get themselves into a life threating situation without the parent OR babysitter knowing it until it's too late. EQ really does take up that much attention.

So the lesson...I won't ever play EQ while babysitting that lil devil...heh.

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lizwool
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Re: .

Kshali,

Thank you for sharing your experience.

Small children cannot left unsupervised.

Because of the time it takes to play EQ, please do that when the little ones are asleep, or wait until after they have become adults. They need you, and want your attention!

LIz

Liz Woolley

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Re: .I must agree

After reading post after post and attending AA meetings for game addiction, and doing research it is not the game that brought death to the child it was the parent's fault.

Do they have an addiction? Yes if they both allow a game to interfere with Job,family, work.. If the game controls them, and it very much sounds like it does.

Not everyone that plays MMORPGS is an addict just like not everyone who drinks is an Alcoholic.

It is a new addiction considering EQ has been out snice 1999, it is 2003 and it has come to surface.

Instead of blaming and pointing fingers take accountablity and work on recovering. Move forward live in the moment and show support where it is needed most.

"Swift as a shadow, short as any dream,
Brief as the lightning in the collied night
That, in a spleen, unfolds both heaven and earth,
And ere a man hath power to say 'Behold!'
The jaws of time do devour it up.."
--William Shakespeare

Diggo McDiggity
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Re: .I must agree

Quote:Instead of blaming and pointing fingers take accountablity and work on recovering. Move forward live in the moment and show support where it is needed most.Yes, this is good advice for most people. Some of us though, have taken on the responsibility of educating others of the potential for online game abuse, and what that abuse can lead to in terms of problems for the gamer and his family. Now I'm not talking about pointing fingers, but instead just helping others learn about this stuff and somewhere along the way helping to encourage the game manufacturers themselves to become aware of how their games are impacting society as a whole. This is more about ethics and social responsibility than it is trying to pin the blame on either the parents, the gamers or the game manufacturers.
Ron

Ron Jaffe AKA Diggo McDiggity
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On-Line Gamers Anonymous

Co-Founder of OLGA and member since 2002

Havneq Alwaysoom
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Re: "Addicted" mother leads to child's death

and it's already on tv
at least it will be soon

KrennaO
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Re: .I must agree

I am a published author and I am compling a book for this addiction, using the big book from AA and alot of material from that, for me I am a child of an Alcoholic so I know why I have the addiction towards MMORPGs.

This is my effort to help people, to get information out there. I am also working with a local AA group and attending meetings every day going through the steps, and have a sponsor.

What inspired me to write a book is a seeing a friend loose alot what he had because of his addiction through MMORPGs. I was lucky that I did not loose as much as he did, just myself.

What I could use is some stories of other people and how this addiction has effected them. This would help me greatly and of course it would be anonymous.

So if anyone would like to share their story please contact me at KrennaO@yahoo.com.

"Swift as a shadow, short as any dream,
Brief as the lightning in the collied night
That, in a spleen, unfolds both heaven and earth,
And ere a man hath power to say 'Behold!'
The jaws of time do devour it up.."
--William Shakespeare

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Re: .I must agree

Have to go with Havneq on this one. EverQuest killed nobody, a neglectful adult focus their inattention on EQ and if they would not have had EQ, they would have found another way to s*ck as a parent.

Krenna, my parents are both alcoholics and I have no such addiction. I choose to be mindful of my life and my responsibilities. This has nothing to do with my parents any more than my mistakes do. Matter of fact, I give my parents credit for nothing, positive or negative, where my life after age 15 is concerned. Everything that happens in my life, good or bad, is a product of my choices and my actions. There is no mystical DNA force that compels me to stay up late watching TV, eat one too many donuts or get dessert after dinner. So it was with playing EQ. I chose to play, I chose to quit, I chose to never buy anything from SOE again. Mom and Dad are irrelevant to my equation, as is their issue with alcohol.

I realize that such stories of will and self-reliance aren't too useful in books meant to provide failure with a built in set of excuses, but my sister and I have waged war against the Mutual Misery Society (AA) since we were children, because I have seen AA ruin more lives than alcohol itself. Feel free to email me at mhill0531@yahoo.com for stories of people who are children of alcoholics and exercise self-control and good decision making on a daily basis.

PS - Hey Liz, I was bored after playing what to me is a pedestrian video game and quit EQ over 14 months ago. While I have publicly disagreed with your stance on SOE and online gaming in general, we do agree whole heartedly that SOE will never see another dime of our money! I didn't break the CDs, but they did get chunked in the trash bin when I moved, along with a ton of other useless junk in my apartment. So SOE has one less customer, even if not for the reasons you guys would like. I still disagree with addiction to games or games killing people, but I do think Sony Online is wretched as companies go.

lizwool
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Re: .I must agree

Thanks for stopping in, Venjenz, and for the post.

I am happy that you have left the game. I know your life will be better because of it.

I talked to the arresting officer in this case. She is being charged, as this was not the first time there had been a problem at her house. Apparently there has been other cases of neglect.

Liz

Liz Woolley

Venjenz
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Re: .I must agree

Quote:She is being charged, as this was not the first time there had been a problem at her house. Apparently there has been other cases of neglect.
My point exactly. EQ is merely one of the many available means out there for people to s*ck. It is good at that purpose, I will grant, but in the absence of EQ, people will find some other way to feed their less than wonderful tendencies. SOE just makes it cheap and easy.

Hey Liz,
I wondered something the other day and wanted to ask a question that I hope is not too personal, since I am currently trying to gather research on a new hypothesis (which I will share later when I am closer to proof). So here's the question(s):

1) How much time was Shawn by himself or engaged in solitary pursuits?

2) On a scale of 1 to 10, where would you rate Shawn's level of independence with regards to his personal world?

3) On a scale of 1 to 10, where would you rate Shawn's sense of self?

4) Was Shawn ever involved in team sports? If so, which ones, and can you describe briefly what the coach was like?

5) On a scale of 1 to 10, where would you rate your (and your family's) tendency to assist Shawn with an endeavour, be it academic, social, personal or whatever?

Hopefully these questions are not too painful to answer, nor are the answers meant to be an indictment of you, Shawn or your family. The basic theory I have is that there exists a level of independence in all of us, which is a combination of factors. The level of independence is an environmental variable in the larger equation on the nature of addictive behavior. So please understand that I mean no offense, since I am legitimately trying to gather data that I might find a trend in enviornmental conditions that can add or subtract addictive tendencies to a personality.

You have the greatest amount of information concerning a case where addicitve behavior and addicitve tools spiraled to the worst end possible, but I think examination from all possible angles may be beneficial to others, and maybe to you as well. So again, I mean no offense and will totally understand if you choose not to answer. Given some discussions you and I have had in the past, I hope you recognize that I search for empirical truth rather than personal attack.

Of note - I applaud the fact that OLGA has been around for over a year. If one person kicked a bad habit as a result, then the web space was well used. I still disagree on a bunch of stuf, but anything that can help an unproductive person turn life around is to be considered a good thing.

Edited by: Venjenz at: 11/14/03 9:05 am

lizwool
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Re: .I must agree

Venjenz,

Please send me your e-mail address at olga@olganon.org, and
I will be happy to answer these questions for you.

Liz

Edited by: lizwool at: 11/17/03 2:49 pm

Liz Woolley

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Re: .I must agree

No sweat Liz.

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