In Terminator 2, the T-1000 kills both of John Connor's foster parents.

Presumably, their bodies were discovered eventually. Officially, who was suspected of killing them?

  • I thought it was mentioned in T3, and Kate Brewster had heard that John killed them. But I could be wrong, since I try to forget that T3 ever happened.
    – Wad Cheber
    Commented Jul 5, 2015 at 4:46
  • @WadCheber : That could very well be. I only ever saw T3 once. And regretted it.
    – Praxis
    Commented Jul 5, 2015 at 4:51
  • 1
    Related: scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/94653/…
    – Wad Cheber
    Commented Jul 5, 2015 at 7:27
  • @WadCheber : That's a good question too --- glad you went ahead and posted it.
    – Praxis
    Commented Jul 5, 2015 at 7:31

1 Answer 1


The official version of events, according to the police, was that Sarah Connor's unidentified male accomplice (the T-800) killed Todd and Janelle and kidnapped John Connor, then broke Sarah out of the mental hospital. They obviously know that Sarah herself couldn't have been involved in the murders, because she was in the Pescadero Mental Hospital when they occurred.

The police visited her there, questioned her about the killings, showed her pictures of the second T-800 in the mall, and said that they believed the "man" in the photos to be involved in the deaths of John's foster parents. This theory was made somewhat more opaque when Sarah later escaped from the hospital, joined her son and the unidentified man, and blew up the Cyberdyne Systems building.

But the official account, as far as who was blamed for Todd and Janelle's deaths, is that the cops believed that the unidentified "man" (i.e., the T-800), was responsible, and that Sarah was presumably an accomplice of some sort, although she obviously wasn't directly involved, as she was in custody at the time.

However, we do hear a little bit more about it in the following movie, Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines. Early in the film, John Connor finds himself, much to his surprise, in a veterinary clinic owned by his former schoolmate, Kate Brewster. She recognizes him before he recognizes her, and she asks him what the hell happened to him all those years ago.

KATE: Mike Kripke's basement.

JOHN: What? What does that mean?

KATE: You're John Connor. I'm Kate Brewster. We went to West Hills Junior High together.

JOHN: Jesus.

KATE: What happened to you, John? Middle of eighth grade, you just disappeared. And there was that thing about your foster parents?

JOHN: Yeah, they were murdered...

[KATE stares at JOHN in silence for a long while]

JOHN: I didn't do it.

This exchange suggests that, among John's classmates at the time he vanished, there were rumors that claimed that the coincidence of the murder of his foster parents and his disappearance were not merely coincidental, so to speak. At least some of his friends and acquaintances seem to have thought that John himself had killed his foster parents.

The authorities, on the other hand, believed that the unidentified "man" (i.e., the T-800) was responsible for the murders. That is definitely what they believed just after the murders took place - they explicitly said as much during their interrogation of Sarah.

  CLOSE ON A BLACK & WHITE PHOTOGRAPH.  The image is a nightmare from
    the past.  It is a surveillance camera still-frame from the L.A.
    police station where the first terminator made such an impression in
    1984.  We see the blurry forms of the cop frozen in the emergency
    lights of a burning corridor.

   A black-clad figure stands at the end of the corridor.  The guy has
    short-cropped hair and dark glasses.  An AR-80 assault rifle in one
    hand, and a 12-gauge in the other -- holding them both like toy
   ANOTHER PHOTO is slapped on top of the first.  Another still-frame
    blow-up is placed over the last.  Terminator looms in CLOSEUP.

                           DETECTIVE WEATHERSBY (O.S.)
           These were taken at the West Highland police
            station in 1984.  You were there.

   WIDER.  We're in --


   The photos are lying on the table in front of Sarah, placed there by
    DETECTIVE WEATHERSBY.  His partner DET. MOSSBERG, and Dr. Silberman,
    sit at the table as well.  Two uniformed cops, plus Douglas, stand by
    the door.  Sarah stares listlessly at the top photo.  She's
    withdrawn, haggard... drugged-looking.

           He killed seventeen police officers that night.
            Recognize him?

   Weathersby slaps another black-and-white eight-by-ten on the table.
    A closeup of Terminator taken by the Japanese tourist at the mall.
    It's the same face.

           This one was taken by a Japanese tourist today.

   Sarah doesn't react.  It's hard to tell she's thinking.  
   Whether she's given up hope or is just in a drugged stupor.

          Ms. Connor, you've been told that your son's
            missing.  His foster parents have been murdered,
            and we know this guy's involved.  Talk to us.
            Don't you care?

That last line is the important one, but the version that made it into the finished movie is a bit different. In the movie as it was released, the cop says:

Ms. Connor, we know you know who this guy is. I just sat here and told you that your son is missing... that the foster parents have been murdered. We know this guy's involved. Doesn't that mean anything to you? Don't you care?

The police, therefore, formed the hypothesis that the T-800 (although they didn't know it was a T-800, and naturally assumed he was an actual human) killed Todd and Janelle; furthermore, they came to this conclusion almost immediately after the murders took place. They questioned Sarah Connor about the killings, not because they thought she was responsible, but because they knew that she had had some sort of relationship with the T-800 in the past (again, the cops don't know what a terminator is, and they naturally assume that the two T-800's are the same person).

Why did the police assume that the T-800 was involved in the murders? Probably because he had only been seen on one other occasion, namely, the night he killed an entire precinct full of cops. The police knew that the slaughter of their fellow officers was somehow related to the arrest of Sarah Connor and Kyle Reese, and they were aware that Sarah would endlessly babble about her son being the savior of humanity and her desire to protect him from murderous robots from the future.

So when a guy who was identical to the one who killed a billion cops in 1984 appeared at a mall and promptly got involved in a gunfight, killing several people and terrifying everyone else in the area, the police paid attention. When, that very same day, the foster parents of Sarah's son were killed, and John himself went missing, the cops had excellent reason to believe that the infamous cop killer from 1984 had finally reappeared, and for whatever reason, killed Todd and Janelle.

I would assume that the police also assumed that the T-800 was also responsible for the death of the officer who was killed by the T-1000 at the beginning of the movie.

So, to make a long story short, the police believed that the T-800 had killed Todd and Janelle, but John's classmates, including Kate Brewster, suspected that John himself had killed them.

Note: I'm not sure how the police became aware of Todd and Janelle's murders so quickly. The time elapsed between the killings and Sarah's interrogation is only a few hours, tops. That isn't even enough time for a missing persons report to be submitted. They were both stabbed to death, which makes it highly unlikely that anyone could have heard the killings - if they had been shot, of course, someone probably would have heard it and called the police, but whose hearing is good enough to hear their neighbors being stabbed? The only person who knew that they were in danger was John, and he certainly didn't call 911. So how did the cops find out that a murder had taken place so soon after it happened? The only explanation I can think of is that a neighbor got pissed off about the dog barking and called 911 to complain. But cops can't enter your house without a warrant, probable cause, or your permission, and they wouldn't have had any of these things when they went to the house. So we're still left to wonder how the murders were discovered so quickly.

  • 2
    This is excellent --- I appreciate the references and details. I'm also glad it inspired you to post a question, based on your "Note" at the end!
    – Praxis
    Commented Jul 5, 2015 at 7:34
  • You repeat yourself a lot. I counted four times you said the police thought an unidentified man (the T-800) did it before I got bored.
    – OrangeDog
    Commented Sep 18, 2018 at 11:15

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