***READER DISCRETION IS ADVISED***
Posts about real school tragedy, crime and/or events can be upsetting.
Thank you for reading my weekly posts. I don’t know about you, but I’ve come to the conclusion nothing is too bizarre when it comes to crime.
I’ve also come to understand when your family has lost a relative to a heinous act, reliving the pain through the court testimony often drags on for years as it has in the case I’m sharing information on in this post.
BLOG POST #160: This week, I’m sharing research on a specific criminal case involving high school classmates hanging out on a Sunday afternoon.
Plot To Run Away
Ten teenager classmates and one adult plotted to run away. One new member of the group, a shy 15-year-old, voiced her decision to not join the others.
Sadly, the young girl’s adult cousin told the group her cousin was a ‘snitch’ and might say something about the runaway plan.
The group ended up in a remote party area. Once there, the leader of the group, a 16-year-old girl, tied an old rope she’d found into a noose and as an initiation challenge, made each person put it around their neck and remove it several times.
When the young girl put the noose around her neck for the third time, it was yanked tight, and the remaining rope tossed over a tree branch. The leader of the group and her 18-year-old boyfriend held the girl up and pulled the rope until she hung on her own.
Silencing A Snitch
They dropped the rope to lower her after she had turned blue. When they realized she hadn’t died, they strung her up a second time.
After they thought she’d died, they lowered her body to the ground and began to cover her with leaves, but she moved. Quickly, the leader of the group grabbed a large rock, said to be the size of a basketball, and bashed her face. It was reported she then said, “That’s what they do to snitches.”
Some of the eleven people gather had left the area when the hanging began. Others remained and did nothing to stop it, including the adult cousin.
The girl’s mother became frantic by evening and reported her missing.
Several in the group made good on their plan to run away. The minors were caught and returned to their parents. Interestingly, the leader of the group did not leave the area.
The Truth Comes Out
The police received an anonymous call a few days before the body was found. The 15-year-old’s body lay undiscovered for more than one week.
The leader of the group was found guilty of murder and sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Her adult boyfriend was found guilty of murder, aggravated assault, and conspiracy and also sentenced to life without parole.
The cousin was found guilty of conspiracy to commit aggravated assault and served her five-year sentence.
Several appeals have been filed and denied.
It’s Not Over Yet
Fourteen years after the murder, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled it was a violation of the constitutional amendment barring cruel and unusual punishment to mandate that juveniles serve life without the possibility of parole. At the time of this ruling, the state had more than 500 juveniles sentenced to life without parole—more than any other state.
Five years after the U.S. Supreme Court ruling for the state’s Supreme Court to rule juveniles convicted of first-degree murder can only be given life without parole sentences in rare cases when “the juvenile offender is permanently incorrigible and thus is unable to be rehabilitated.”
Cases, where a life without parole sentence was given to minors continue to be reviewed due to recent guidelines. Whether or not the leader of the group will have her sentenced changed to include a possibility of parole has yet to be determined.
It’s been 20 years since the crime occurred.
What are your thoughts about this case? Join the conversation on the website. We talk about the sensitive subject of crimes occurring at or connected to schools. Your relevant comments are always welcome on the Research Blog.
Do you know of a school crime you’d like to share? Email me so we can discuss the details.
Thanks for reading!