Attempted Murder in Liberty Township: How conventional thinking can hide malice

Because it happened in my neighborhood the attempted murder trial of the young Lakota honors student has been unavoidable. Mitchell Simon tied his parents’ bedroom door together and lit their Liberty Township home on fire committing arson and attempting to kill them because the parents took away his laptop. The father jumped out of their window breaking his leg leaving his wife to be rescued by firefighters. Listening to this story I wondered if this family had been my rivals in previous school levies where they declared that high taxes for Lakota were needed to give their child a great education. This student was after all an honors student and was very well thought of so the reasoning that a child would hate his parents so intensely that he would actually try to burn down their house with them in it, so it took a lot of people by surprise. But why did the kid do it and why were people so surprised? I’ll offer my thoughts at the end of this article, which will be related to my own experience on these matters.


The trial of Mitchell Simon was slated to begin Monday with jury selection, but instead the teen pleaded guilty as charged to two counts of attempted aggravated murder and one count of aggravated arson. He faces a maximum of 33 years in prison — 11 years for each count — and will appear for a mitigation hearing June 10 at 9 a.m. prior to sentencing.

Simon’s defense attorney, Brad Kraemer, is expected to put a psychologist on the stand to testify during the hearing. Kraemer said the doctor will talk about how Simon “is still very much a young kid rather than a man” despite his age. Common Pleas Judge Craig Hedric is expected to hand down Simon’s sentence afterward.

According to sheriff’s detectives, on Oct. 23, Simon, then a 16-year-old junior and honors student at Lakota West High School, went to the basement of the family home, found rope left over from when he was a Boy Scout, and used it to tie his parents’ bedroom doors shut. He then retrieved a gas can from the garage and lit fires outside both rooms. Simon was allegedly angry with his parents over his laptop being taken away, according to detectives.

A journal found in the nightstand of Simon’s room near the charred second-floor bedrooms of his parents detailed the angry feelings the teen had for his parents and himself, according to testimony given during a hearing late last year in juvenile court.

Kraemer told the judge that Simon’s parents, Perry and Sharon Simon, “are aware of his guilty plea and do think it is in his best interest.” Simon had limited contact with his parents — who have supported their son at every court proceeding, including Monday’s plea — because of the nature of the crime.

I don’t know these people personally, but I do know the types of people that they are. Likely, they were rabid supporters of the Lakota levy attempts and also previous fire and police levies over the years. In a moment of crises, the father showed what kind of man he was by jumping out the window leaving his wife to be rescued by the fire department. These types of levy supporters do not have any inclination of self-reliance. It does not occur to them to break down a door by head butting it or kicking it down with authority, or if it is simply too think—using furniture to escape. The parents have likely never seen a rappelling rope and surely don’t have such things in their closet that could have been used to scale his wife and him to safety during the crises. The family probably doesn’t even change their own oil in their cars—expecting a specialist to care for every aspect of their lives. Gone are the days from people like this where a man would lay down his life to protect the woman he loves—because such romances have been cheapened to such an extent in our society that nobody thinks with valor anymore.

The level of anger the young boy had for his parents appears to be unjustified by conventional thinking. By conventional I am referring to the progressive mindset of the typical levy supporter who moved to Lakota for the schools and social services—and the sense of community shared by others like them who conjugate on the soccer field sidelines and community sidewalks talking about the latest scandal discussed on The View. Conventional thinking which is represented by the court of law does not understand why the kid did what he did—he lived in a nice home, had loving parents, went to a nice school, associated with nice people—the kid had everything a young person should ever want—and then some. So why would he be so unhappy?

I don’t know for sure—as I said I don’t know those people other than passing them occasionally in a supermarket isle. We only have in common that we live in the same community. But, if I had to place a bet, I would say that the child saw what kind of parents he had and had the crises moment of realizing that he was becoming just like them—and in his journals of hate hoped that he could change his fate by rebelling so violently against them. When he realized he couldn’t, he did the unthinkable—he tried to remove them from his life.

Now that it’s too late—he’s facing most of the rest of his life in jail—his problems seem pretty petty now. If he turned out like his parents it would seem a blessing now compared to the lack of freedom he will now experience for his adult life—his premium years. Compared to where he is in jail it would be wonderful to have a wife in a nice Liberty Township home with a career that paid the bills and then some. At least he’d have the freedom of a movie or occasional golf game. Perspective is everything and a year in jail already likely has diminished greatly the hate he had for his parents on the night he tried to kill them—but why was the anger so intense where he felt no other way out—and how can similar parents prevent the same thing?

As I have said I knew a lot of smart kids in my high school days, and several of them had fantasies of killing their parents. It wasn’t that the parents were bad people and didn’t love their children—it was just that the kids didn’t want to end up like those parents—fat, ugly, unhappy, bitter about life—unimaginative—suck asses so willing to whore themselves away for a nickel. Kids want to know that they have the opportunity to be more than that—and if the parents set the bar low for themselves, the crises of the child is to destroy their fate toward the same end by killing the path that will deliver them to such a destination. I got along with my parents for the most part because I was so rebellious that I didn’t fear falling short of my personal goals because I did not have the needless concern over impressing others to enjoy my personal happiness. But most people are not like that—and they have great conflict between their internal dreams and those provided to them by parents they want to please. Under such circumstances, a parent showing such disapproval of a child already hiding online to avoid becoming exactly like his parents is forced to confront his emotions when the parents take away that hiding place and force the child to deal with reality—which is what he was running from. Since the parents never dealt with the reason for the anxiety—likely because they didn’t pay close enough attention to notice—the boy tried to kill the source of his conflict hoping for relief from the pressure. And what he lost was all his potential freedom forever—and the parents are now stuck wondering what they did wrong when everything they thought they were doing right blew up in their face.

Their biggest mistake likely was in believing that their personal failures as parents could be hidden by a Lakota education. Obviously not. And also likely, this kid isn’t the only one thinking about doing such a thing. Being a smart kid, Simon likely played out his tragedy and saw no way out, where kids not so bright might find it easier to live with their disillusion. The situation is rather common if the reality of real emotions are explored not from the perspective of law and conventional thinking—but what is really going on in the hearts and minds of people. I certainly don’t want to add to the grief of the parents. They did what they thought was right based on what was taught to them. But for others out there dealing with the same raw emotions—there are reasons for the behavior, and those reasons must be confronted and not further pushed down deep into the minds of a troubled teen. Otherwise the consequences will be literal—as they were in this case or internal—as they most of the time are left. But the emotions are always there—and left raw, and primal.

And Lakota is not a substitute for good parenting……….otherwise, the kid would not be in jail.

Oh, and just for reference…………..when people hear about this case they assume that the entire home was ablaze to justify the father jumping out of a window, breaking his legs, and leaving his wife hanging out of an upstairs window in a panic awaiting firemen to rescue her. Listening to Sheriff Jones talk about the case, he declared that the firefighters and deputies risked their life to save the woman and provide care to the man of the house in the yard with broken legs. The son was ready to skip town with his girlfriend in Lawrenceburg to disappear forever—it all sounds very dramatic. But in all reality, the fire only did $2,500 in damage. It was so small that the father could have put it out with a couple of buckets of water from the bathroom sink. If he had burst open the locked bedroom door and put out the fire himself, his son would still be living at home—and would actually have a future. The trio could have talked about the family incident and worked things out. Instead, they panicked and placed their lives in the hands of public officials, and once they did that—the police, and legal system made a circus out of it—to serve their own needs at the expense of the family. Now the boy will live in jail, the mother will yearn for a man who won’t leave her hanging out of a flaming window, and the man will live in embarrassment from jumping out of a two-story window because of a silly little fire he could have easily put out himself—if only he knew how. Such a sad situation for everyone involved. They must have been levy supporters.

Rich Hoffman