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Simon Peter NELSON





Classification: Mass murderer
Characteristics: Parricide
Number of victims: 6
Date of murders: January 7, 1978
Date of arrest: Same day
Date of birth: October 2, 1931
Victims profile: Jenny, 12; Simon Peter III, 10; Andrew, 8; Matthew, 7; Roseann, 6; and David, 3 (his children)
Method of murder: Beating with a rubber headed mallet - Stabbing with a hunting  knife
Location: Rockford, Illinois, USA
Status: Sentenced to 100 to 200 years in prison

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Simon Nelson was a pretty ordinary guy. The only problem in his life was the fact that his wife had left him. Nelson didn't like this fact and was intent upon changing it. Despite numerous attempts at reconciliation, his wife, Ann, would not come back to Simon and their six children.

On January 6, 1978, Simon Nelson had finally had enough. He found out that his wife was staying at a motel in Milwaukee. Well he actually found her by stalking her, but that's a different story. He went to her room and asked her to come home with him. When she refused he lost his temper and beat the shit out of her, only stopping once the police showed up. He was arrested on an aggravated battery charge.

Police took him in and started to question him about the events of the night, thinking it was a simple domestic dispute, but instead they copped the shock of their lives. Out of nowhere Nelson just looked up and told them that he had killed his six children in Rockford, Illinois. He told the cops that he had done it to 'get even' with his wife. At this stage they though he was bullshitting them, trying to get his wife worried about it.

When police went to the house they found that Nelson wasn't bullshitting. All six kids- Jennifer, 12; Simon, 10; Andrew, 9; Matthew, 8; Roseann, 5 and David, 3 were found dead in their beds. Nelson had beaten each about the head with a rubber headed mallet, then stabbed the fuck out of each with a hunting knife.

He claimed all had been asleep when killed. He had even mutilated the dog so badly that officers thought it was a piece of flesh from one of the bodies.

Nelson chose not to defend himself at the trial and, not surprisingly, received a sentence of life.

The Wacky World of Murder


Board votes to keep Simon Peter Nelson in prison

By Aaron Chambers -

Jun 19, 2008

Simon Peter Nelson, the Rockford man who murdered his six children as they slept in 1978, will continue life behind bars.

The 13-member Illinois Prisoner Review Board today voted unanimously to deny Nelson’s request for parole after Milton Maxwell, a board member who interviewed Nelson in early June, urged them to keep Nelson locked up.

“How could a sane person kill six innocent kids? I don’t even pretend to have an answer,” Maxwell said.

The board also voted 13-0 to postpone Nelson’s next possible parole date for three years, so he won’t be eligible for release again until 2011.

“Almost alone among inmates in custody, he deserves to die in prison,” said board member Craig Findley. “There are not many I would say that about. But this is a crime that can’t be forgiven. He can never be released.”

Nelson killed his children — Jenny, 12; Simon Peter III, 10; Andrew, 8; Matthew, 7; Roseann, 6; and David, 3 — and the family dog with a rubber mallet and knife.

Nelson has said he killed the children after his second wife, Anne, told him over the phone that she wanted a divorce.

After killing the children, he drove to Milwaukee and beat his wife.

Nelson was convicted of murder and sentenced to 100 to 200 years in prison. He first was eligible for parole in 1986. The board has now denied him parole at least 15 times. In 2005, the parole board unanimously voted to keep Nelson in prison.

In 1982, Nelson married Jewell Friend, a former administrator at Southern Illinois University Carbondale, after the two met while she was teaching at Menard Correctional Center in Chester.

When Nelson met with Maxwell in early June at the Graham Correctional Center, where Nelson is incarcerated, Nelson said Friend died of an aggressive stomach cancer in October 2005.

Although Nelson told Maxwell that he was unsure whether he should be paroled, he expressed remorse for the death of his six children. He did say, however, that his job as a clerk in the prison law library, which he has held since the 1980s, proves he can be productive.

“I think that demonstrates that if I can make a commitment to something, I carry it through,” Nelson said. “If you did choose to parole me, you wouldn’t have to worry about my life out there, because I would be following Christ. He lives inside me.”


Simon Peter Nelson denied parole again

The board unanimously agrees that the man who murdered his six children should stay in prison

Jun 10, 2005

Simon Peter Nelson, who murdered his six children while they slept in Rockford 27 years ago, will remain in prison for at least three more years.

The Illinois Prisoner Review Board ruled unanimously Thursday against Nelson’s request for parole. The board also ruled he won’t have another shot at parole until 2008.

Board member Craig Findley, who interviewed Nelson last week in a downstate prison, told the board that Nelson was a model prisoner. He even credited Nelson with making the case that he formed a strong relationship with God while behind bars.

But Findley said that doesn’t justify parole.

“We deal not in the spiritual, but the temporal world here, and I believe society could not accept the release of a person from prison having served less than five years for the death of each of his children,” he said. Nelson, 73, killed his children — Jenny, 12; Simon Peter III, 10; Andrew, 8; Matthew, 7; Roseann, 6; and David, 3 — with a knife and rubber mallet in January 1978 before driving to Milwaukee to beat his wife, who was seeking a divorce.

For other members of the board, it didn’t seem to be a question of whether to keep Nelson in prison, but whether each could be first to condemn the crime. As Findley made a motion to deny parole, at least five of the 13 board members present called out to second the motion.

“Parole would be a miscarriage of justice, totally,” board member Norman Sula said. “I think our board has enough common sense to realize that based on the crime — murdering his six children — and based on the sentence that the court gave him — 100 to 200 years.”

Nelson has long claimed he “snapped” on the day of the murders, when his wife announced her intention to divorce him, and alleges that he can’t recall the killings because of amnesia.

He was first eligible for parole in 1986 and has been denied 14 times. He would have needed the votes of eight members to be released. Two board members were absent from Thursday’s hearing.

The board unanimously denied Nelson in 2004, and he was not scheduled for another hearing until 2007.

But he sued for a new hearing, alleging the board failed to swear him in last year. The board elected to hold a new hearing rather than fight the lawsuit.

Nelson and others sentenced under the former indeterminate sentencing system are eligible for parole every year.

The board can vote to suspend parole eligibility for three years, as it did unanimously Thursday, when members believe they probably won’t parole the prisoner during that time. As other board members nodded, Findley said that even by 2008 Nelson would not have served enough time.

“Five years for the life of an innocent child — Mr. Nelson will not have my vote this year; he will not have my vote in three years.”



Dad expresses remorse for kids' deaths

Simon Peter Nelson said he has benefited from intensive anger management therapy.

May 04, 2004

Simon Peter Nelson, who killed his six children as they slept in the family's Rockford home, on Monday declared himself free of the anger that underscored his rage that night in 1978.

Nelson told a member of the Illinois Prisoner Review Board, which is expected to rule May 13 on his request for parole, that he benefited from intensive anger management therapy during 26 years behind bars.

"So nothing of any kind of a violent nature is ever going to happen in my life again," he said.

Nelson is serving 100 to 200 years for one of the worst cases of filicide - the murder of one's children - in the nation's history.

Monday's hearing was at the Graham Correctional Center, a medium-security prison in this town 42 miles south of Springfield, where Nelson is an inmate. The Prisoner Review Board has denied his parole 12 times.

On Monday morning, an unshackled Nelson faced Nancy Bridges-Mickelson, the Parole Board member, from across a desk in a cinderblock room inside the prison facility.

Nelson's third wife, Jewell Friend, sat beside him. Friend, a former dean of academic affairs at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, said she met Nelson while teaching college courses at Menard Correctional Center, a maximum-security prison where Nelson previously was held.

"He probably has one of the best minds, intellects, that I've ever encountered," Friend told Bridges-Mickelson. "And I think that probably is why I married him."

The two have been married 21 years.

Friend said her community, Johnson City, Tenn., is eager for Nelson's "homecoming." Later in the hearing, she acknowledged that she told only her closest friends her husband is incarcerated.

Nelson's second wife, Ann, the mother of the six deceased children, divorced him after the murders. Nelson said he was married the first time in the early 1950s when he served in the Air Force.

Bridges-Mickelson walked Nelson though the steps of his life from his birth in Elgin to two teachers to his work as a law clerk at the Graham prison.

Nelson, 72, acknowledged murdering his children near the end of his testimony, which lasted 1 and 1/2 hours, when Bridges-Mickelson asked him directly whether he knew what he had done.

"Yes," he responded.

She then asked him what he did.

"I killed my children," he said.

Then she asked him how he did it.

"With a mallet and a knife," he said.

The Nelson children were Jenny, 12; Simon Peter III, 10; Andrew, 8; Matthew, 7; Roseann, 6; and David, 3.

Nelson expressed remorse for his crime.

"I almost feel guilty for the fact that I'm regaining my moral compass. I've put myself back together," he said. "The remorse that I feel gets deeper the more I learn about what the weaknesses were that allowed this to happen."

And he apologized.

"If I could change history and there not be a crime, that would be my greatest wish. I can't do that. I do apologize to my family and friends, the Rockford community and everyone else that's been hurt by this event."

But Nelson would not articulate the specifics of his crime despite Bridges-Mickelson's repeated efforts to push him toward details. He insisted he experienced "amnesia" during the murders.

"I just remember bits and pieces of sheer horror," he said.

Nelson blamed his father for planting anger he carried through the 1978 murders. After his father committed suicide in 1954, Nelson said, he made the mistake of reading his father's diary. There, he said, he discovered his father blamed his own family for his "despondency."

Nelson said he never experienced "a grieving process" related to his father, that his own anger "lay hidden all these years" and that he never resolved his anger "until after I was incarcerated."

Nelson said the last thing he remembered before the murders was a phone call from his wife Ann, who was seeking a divorce. He said she told him, "I don't love you anymore."

"That's when the lights went off in my mind," he said. "I snapped. And I felt like it was my dad all over again."

He said he heard voices and "saw things" that he knows did not exist. He said he felt his dead father's presence at the crime scene.

"All I remember is being split somehow and my father being present - and again, this is irrational - and my telling him not to go up the stairs," he said.

"This was after I had imagined that I killed myself."

After killing his children, plus the family dog, Nelson drove to a Milwaukee hotel where Ann was staying.

Shortly thereafter, Milwaukee police officers interrupted Nelson beating his wife.



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