When Zach was 18 months old, his parents, Joe and Laurie, began thinking his behavior wasn't normal. When Zach was happy, Laurie says he was as happy as any child. "When he was angry, it was over the top. It wasn't like a normal tantrum." she says. "His rages would be over absolutely nothing. He would completely destroy his room at 18 months. His strength was 10 times that of a normal child. ... We kept thinking, 'Well, maybe this is something that Zach will grow out of and maybe he's just a really, really active, passionate little boy.'"
Instead, Zach's rages grew more intense and more frequent. At home, Zach would scream, throw toys and punch holes in the wall. He was particularly violent when playing with his sister, Julia, who is two years younger than he is. In kindergarten, Zach tried to stab a classmate with a pair of scissors.
Much of Zach's rage was directed at Laurie. "I started to be afraid of Zachary," Laurie says. "He would actually say to me, 'Mommy, I love you. I don't want to kill you, but I do.'"
Laurie says she once turned around in the kitchen to find Zach standing before her with a kitchen knife in his hand. "He had his arm poised back and he had a crazy look in his eyes as though he was going to stab me—for no reason, nothing," she says. "I just grabbed the knife out of his hand."
Joe and Laurie were so scared of what their son might do, they started sleeping with their bedroom door locked. "What if I wake up at night and Zach's standing on the edge of my bed with a club?" Joe says. "I mean, you just didn't know."