POSTED: 8:16 am CST January 5, 2007
WEBSTER, Texas -- Police and family members said a 10-year-old boy who died by hanging himself from a bunk bed was apparently mimicking the execution of former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein.
Sergio Pelico was found dead Sunday in his apartment bedroom, said Webster police Lt. Tom Claunch. Pelico's mother told police he had previously watched a Spanish television station's news report on Saddam's death.
"It appears to be accidental," Claunch said. "Our gut reaction is that he was experimenting."
An autopsy of the fifth-grader's body was pending.
Julio Gustavo, Sergio's uncle, said the boy was a happy and curious child.
He said Sergio had watched TV news with another uncle on Saturday and asked the uncle about Saddam's death.
"His uncle told him it was because Saddam was real bad," Gustavo said. "He (Sergio) said, 'OK.' And that was it."
Sergio's mother, Sara Pelico DeLeon, was at work Sunday while Sergio and other children were under the care of an uncle, Gustavo said. One of the children found Sergio's body in his bedroom.
Police said the boy had tied a slipknot around his neck while on a bunk bed. Police investigators learned that Sergio had been upset about not getting a Christmas gift from his father, but they don't believe the boy intentionally killed himself.
Clinical psychologist Edward Bischof, of California, said children Sergio's age mimic risky behaviors they see on TV -- such as wrestling or extreme sports -- without realizing the dangers. He said TV appeared to be the stimulant in Sergio's case.
"I would think maybe this kid is trying something that he thinks fun to act out without having the emotional and psychological maturity to think the thing through before he acts on it," Bischof said.
"I don't think he thought it was real," Gustavo said of Saddam's hanging. "They showed them putting the noose around his neck and everything. Why show that on TV?"
Sergio's father urged other parents to warn their children not to do what they see on TV. The parents said they believe the media outlets that chose to repeatedly air the video of Saddam's execution were irresponsible.
Family members held a memorial for the boy Wednesday in the apartment complex activity center.
This reminds me of the simpsons episode where they go to the hospital to try to scare Bart straight and keep him from mimicing daredevils on tv. "I won't even subject you to the horrors of our Three Stooges ward."
We can't know for a fact that the kid hung himself because he saw Saddam bite it on Telemundo. Maybe he was taking his first baby steps into the world of autoerotic asphyxiation and slipped. Regardless, it'll be case in point for those who put up those warnings about graphic material that mock26 was bitching about.
As for the father's urging that parents should warn their children....I figure it's a moot point for the vast majority of children who with a fully developed sense of self-preservation know not to hang themselves. This kid was just a Darwin Award waiting to happen. Unfortunately, I don't think you can qualify for a darwin award until you hit 16. Poor kid. Just a little too precocious there.