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Born and Raised to Murder: A Failure of Foster Care, by Irene Sullivan

“In this book, Judge Sullivan skillfully ‘pulls back the curtain’ to illuminate the circumstances that led Leo Boatman to kill two college students within a few seconds of exchanging pleasantries with them along a park trail. This book is as compelling as it is disturbing; it is a masterful account that helps the reader to understand the murderer without excusing his behavior.”

— Kathleen M. Heide, Ph.D., Distinguished University Professor, University of South Florida; Editor of The Routledge International Handbook of Juvenile Homicide

When Florida juvenile judge Irene Sullivan read about the arrest of the young man who killed two college kids camping in the Ocala National Forest, she took action-in a surprising way. She began writing to Leo Boatman, 19, determined to understand what led him to commit such a random, violent act. She shares their correspondence, and examines many other cases of delinquency and its destructive trajectory, in her first book, Raised by the Courts: One Judge’s Insight into Juvenile Justice.

Here, in Born and Raised to Murder, Sullivan continues her exploration into a foster care system that abuses, neglects, and incarcerates children, like Boatman, who seem unable to break free from a cycle of crime. Through her singular relationship with Boatman, she offers a rare insider’s view into his background, not as an excuse for his crimes, but as a way to understand how a bright bookworm of a child ended up a killer on death row.

You’ll read about Sullivan’s role as a defense witness in Boatman’s trial, enlightening perspectives from juvenile delinquency experts Kenneth Wooden, Dewey Caruthers, and Dr. Adele Solazzo, as well as Boatman himself.

“I want my story to be told so what happened to me never happens to another foster kid. If you want to create a pit bull, put a kid in solitary confinement in a juvenile prison, without books to read and taunted by prison guards.” -Leo Boatman

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