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
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
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 - RRSTAR.com
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
“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
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.
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.
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.
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
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
"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
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
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
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
"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.