Maxwell Peterson, 16, was a beloved student at his Wisconsin high school before he was killed by his own father.
Maxwell suffered from a rare neurogenetic disorder known as Angelman Syndrome. The disorder causes delayed development, intellectual disability, severe speech impairment, and problems with movement and balance.
Despite all this, the syndrome often makes sufferers happy and affectionate people.
On July 23, Maxwell’s parents were told that there would be a change in their son’s respite care situation, according to Inquisitr. The facilities are used for short periods of time in order for a guardian or parent to place their loved one in the care of others for temporary relief.
It was this change that police believe encouraged Maxwell's father, Theodore Peterson, to kill his son, according to WISC-TV.
At 5:30 p.m. that day, Maxwell's mother, Deb Peterson, received a text from her husband saying he was taking their son for a walk at a park close to their home. When Maxwell and Theodore arrived at the park, Theodore reportedly took a knife to his son’s throat, then shot himself in the head with a nail gun.
While his son died at the scene, Theodore survived and was flown to the University of Wisconsin Hospital. He is currently in critical condition on life support.
According to police, Deb knew nothing about her husband’s intentions when he took their son out for a walk.
“The thing I’ll remember about him is we made those delivery routes and he was so engaging to everybody,” Josh Alberli, Peterson’s special education teacher, told WISC-TV. “Random people in the hallway, staff, visitors, he loved watching and engaging with people.”
Others in the Angelman Syndrome community have reached out.
“It’s really rocked the Angelman community as people are finding out about this today,” Eileen Braun, executive director of the Angelman Syndrome Foundation, said. “I just know from the outpouring from our families that our hearts are truly broken.”
Grief counselors will be provided by the school district when school begins.
Photo Credit: Channel 3000, madison.com