October 5, 2017
Yesterday, Nicole Beilman, a 27 year old woman from Fairport, NY, was shot and killed in the backyard of her home by her father. Nicole was a disabled woman and, like every other life, her life was worth living. She was passionate about nature, music and loved by friends and family.
The Center for Disability Rights, along with the Disability Community nation-wide, mourns the loss of Nicole. Every year, on March 1st, we participate in the Disability Day of Mourning by reading an ever growing list of disabled people killed by family members or caregivers. Nicole will be the 44th person added to the list in 2017.
As information about this horrific murder comes to light, we have already seen reports alluding to her disability as the reason her father, John Beilman, killed Nicole before killing himself. At this time, we implore the media and our community to remember that Nicole is the victim in this story, not her father. It is not uncommon to read media stories and hear conversations that discuss the “caregiver stress” that the murderer must have endured, and using such “stress” to relay sympathy to the murderer. This discourse perpetuates the idea that disabled lives are not worth living, a belief that will only encourage the next person who decides they have the right to take the life of a disabled person. We urge everyone to remember that murder is an unconscionable act, and the murder of your own child – without exception – is reprehensible.
It is important to note that the media did not create this narrative, that honor belongs to the chief of police who framed the crime with the false statement that Nicole was “100 percent reliant on the care of her parents.” Nicole received many community based services and supports, including attendant services and respite. However, the fact that Nicole was a Consumer Directed Personal Assistance Services (CDPAS) user and had other supports is really irrelevant. No disabled person should be murdered for any reason, ever.
This horrific crime must be seen as just that – a horrific crime. Do not frame this tragedy as a disabled woman being a burden to her family. Do not victimize Nicole further by extending sympathies to this murderous father, but instead, call for justice for Nicole and all other disabled people who are murdered by their family members and caregivers. Disability is not a burden, but disabled people are burdened with a society that too often is willing to see us as disposable. This must stop now! No murder is justified, not Nicole’s or any other disabled persons.