Even with the mountain of evidence against Joran van der Sloot -- including video footage and a confession -- his mother, Anita, still believes her son is innocent; that he is, in her words, "not a murderer." In an e-mail to Joran's former girlfriend, Anita wrote, "[Joran] is not the monster they like the world to see .... It stinks and feels like a big trap set up for him." Before his death earlier this year, Joran's father, Paul, also stood by his son -- some say even going so far as to pay off the authorities after Joran was accused of murdering Alabama teenager Natalee Holloway in Aruba in 2005.
Casey Anthony, the Florida mom accused of murdering her 2-year-old daughter, Caylee, can also count on her parents for support. Both George and Cindy Anthony regularly make public appearances defending their daughter's innocence. And they allegedly changed their stories and possibly tampered with evidence ....
This brand of family solidarity is not uncommon. In addition to protesting their child's innocence (whether they really believe it themselves or not), the parents of criminals often offer various levels of help, says Robin Sax, a former Los Angeles County Deputy District Attorney. The first kind of assistance, says Sax, involves knowing about a crime but not telling the authorities. The second is refusing to cooperate with the authorities even when they have information about the crime. And then there are the parents who actually lie and cover up the crime to keep their child out of prison. Still, despite all the possibilities, Sax says that many parents actually do the right thing: They turn in their child.
If a member of your immediate family told you they'd killed someone, would you help them cover up their crime -- or would you turn them in to the police?