Thursday, August 8, 2019

List Series: Tragic Crimes Committed by Teenagers

It's always shocking when it is revealed that a violent crime was committed by a minor. When searching for a killer, detectives typically look for potential suspects that have patterns of violence and/or criminal activity. While there are many teenagers with a juvenile criminal record, most teens do not fit the typical profile of a potential murder suspect. In fact, according to statistics, only 7% of murders that occur in the United States are committed by juveniles. (source

Even experienced investigators have admitted to being shocked when they learned about a murder committed by a teen. The murder of Skylar Neese is a prime example: when Skylar vanished from Star City, West Virginia, investigators suspected that her friends Shelia Eddy and Rachel Shoaf knew more about her disappearance than they admitted from the beginning. However, they thought that Skylar's disappearance might have had to do with drugs, and/or that Shelia and Rachel were covering for somebody else. Investigators were absolutely shocked in January 2013, when Rachel admitted that she and Shelia had stabbed Skylar to death. It seemed unfathomable that two petite teenage girls were capable of such a violent act, which is likely why the case garnered worldwide attention. 

The following list contains ten cases similar to the Skylar Neese case, where the murders were committed by teenagers ranging from ages 13-17. 

Crystal Brooke Howell(17): Killed her father, Michael Howell

Crystal Brooke Howell had been living with her father Michael Howell in Maggie Valley, North Carolina ever since her parents got divorced when she was 12 years old. The father and daughter lived in a remote cabin on Sheepback Mountain. On the morning of February 24th, 2014, when Crystal was 17 years old, Michael took his daughter shopping in Ingles. During their trip, Michael confronted Crystal when he caught her trying to shoplift. After this incident, Crystal reportedly began to think about killing her father. When the two returned home, Michael took a nap while Crystal took a shower and allegedly continued to think about killing her father. Once she got out of the shower, Crystal grabbed a shotgun and shot her father once in the head as he napped on the couch. According to investigators, she then then hid his body in a plastic container inside the family’s storage shed. Then, she dumped the couch he was laying on and sold the shotgun that she used.

Although she was only 17 years-old at the time, she continued to live her life independently following her father's death.  she began to drive her deceased father’s car, spend his money, and damage his house. Her friends moved in, and they often threw parties at the house. Crystal even had a stripper pole installed in the kitchen. When asked about her father’s whereabouts, Crystal told her friends that he moved to Georgia and then killed himself. On March 22nd, 2014, two of Crystal’s house guests decided to move a pinball machine into their storage shed. While doing that, one of the men noticed the plastic container and found Michael’s body inside. The police were called, and Crystal was eventually arrested and charged with murder.  In October 2016, Crystal pleaded guilty to the murder of her father and was sentenced to a minimum of 30 years in prison. She remains behind bars today. [read more]

Justin Hadel(17): Killed his cousin's mistress, Christine Sheddy

17 year-old Justin Hadel (pictured bottom left) was living with his cousin, 33 year-old Clarence Jackson (pictured bottom middle) in Pocomoke City, Maryland when he murdered 26 year-old Christine Sheddy on November 12th, 2007. The place was considered Clarence's home, however Clarence's 27 year-old girlfriend Tia Jackson (pictured bottom right) and Christine lived there as well. In fact, Christine was secretly involved in a romantic affair with Clarence. On the day of Christine's murder, Justin overheard Clarence and Christine arguing. Christine had told Clarence that she wanted a more serious relationship, and Clarence refused. As a result, Christine threatened to tell Tia that Clarence had been cheating on her. After hearing Christine make that threat, Justin tells Clarence, "you better finish her off." Although he made the suggestion to Clarence, it was Justin himself who ended up repeatedly bashing Christine's head with a 2x4 piece of lumber wood. She succumbed to her injuries shortly thereafter. 

When Tia later returned to the home, Clarence and Justin asked her to help them dispose of Christine's body. She agreed, and the three eventually hid her body in Snow Hill. The three seemingly put the incident behind them after that; Clarence and Tia moved to Tennessee, while Justin moved to Texas. Then, in 2010, Clarence was arrested for arson charges. At that point, Clarence agreed to reveal the location Christine’s body in exchange for him being transferred to a Maryland prison, so he could be closer to his daughter. Detectives then went to go speak with Clarence, and he ultimately admitted that, while Justin killed Christine, he was the “ringleader” behind the murder and the cover-up. Clarence also told detectives where they could find Christine’s remains. They were located about two days later. Then, Clarence, Tia and Justin were all charged for their respective involvement in Christine’s murder.

Both Clarence and Justin received life sentences with 30 year suspensions. Christine received 15 years in prison. [read more]

Jacob Boyd(17): Killed his ex-girlfriend Racheal Wiest
Image result for jacob boyd racheal wiest
Jacob Boyd met Racheal Wiest at their high school in Irving, Texas and began dating in the spring of 2014. Racheal was only 15 years-old at the time, and her parents did not allow her to date. As a result, Racheal kept her relationship with Jacob a secret from her family. Often times, she would tell her parents she was with friends when she was actually with Jacob. As months passed, though, Jacob became increasingly controlling and emotionally/verbally abusive towards Racheal. When she would try and break things off, he would threaten suicide or withhold her Facebook password from her.

Finally, in May 2015, Racheal tried yet again to break-up while Jacob. However, just two weeks later, Racheal and Jacob met up at a mutual friend's house to discuss potentially rekindling their relationship. Jacob attempted to initiate sex, but Racheal refused. This angered 17 year-old Jacob; he subsequently grabbed Racheal's phone and threw it to the floor. Then, he attacked Racheal proceeded to choke her to death. The friend stumbled upon the scene and immediately called 911 while attempting CPR to Racheal. Unfortunately, it was too late--she had already passed away. Police arrived on the scene and arrested Jacob. He was charged with murder. In January 2016, Jacob was found guilty of Racheal's murder. He was sentenced to 80 years in prison and will be eligible for parole in 30 years. [read more]

Cathleen Boyer(16): Killed her romantic rival, Kayla VanWert

Cathleen Boyer (pictured left) was only 16 years-old when she killed her friend-turned-romantic rival Kayla VanWert (18) on May 29th, 2016. Cathleen and Kayla were once friends, but their friendship turned sour once the two began to fight over 19 year-old Jorge DeJesus—Kayla’s boyfriend and father of her one year-old child. Kayla suspected that Cathleen had been sleeping with Jorge and confronted her about it via Facebook messenger. The two sent angry messages back and forth to one another before Cathleen initiated a fist fight. They then met up at the 800 block of McKenna Court in Scranton, Pennsylvania, where a physical brawl ensued.

Witnesses state that Kayla appeared to be “overpowering” Cathleen during the fight, when all of a sudden she began screaming “she’s stabbing me!” repeatedly. Once the witnesses realized that Cathleen had pulled a knife out on Kayla, they began to scatter from the scene. The police were called, and Cathleen herself able to flee before they arrived. Once they did arrive, Kayla was found laying on the ground with stab wounds to both her neck and chest. She was transferred to a nearby hospital where she later died. Cathleen eventually was arrested and charged with murder. On July 3rd, 2017, Cathleen pleaded guilty to murder in the third degree. She was later sentenced to 7-20 years in prison. [read more]

Skylar Prockner(16): Killed his ex-girlfriend Hannah Leflar
Image result for skylar prockner hannah leflar
Much like the above-listed Racheal Wiest murder, this tragic crime is another case of an angry ex-boyfriend killing his ex-girlfriend. However, unlike Racheal's case, the murder of Hannah Leflar (16) was thoroughly premeditated and planned. Hannah's ex-boyfriend Skylar Prockner was quite jealous when Hannah began dating other boys after their break-up. Skylar originally asked his friends to help him plan an attack to kill Hannah's new boyfriends, but after some time passed, Skylar decided to only target Hannah instead. On the afternoon of January 12th, 2015, a friend of Skylar's asked if he could walk Hannah home. Hannah agreed, not knowing that Skylar was already inside her Regina, Canada home, waiting for her. 

Once she arrived home, Hannah was approached by Skylar. Skylar's friend then watched as Skylar chased Hannah through the house. He overpowered her and then stabbed Hannah ten times in the chest, killing her. Hannah’s body was found later that evening by her stepfather. It did not take investigators long to find out who had killed her, and Skylar was arrested the following day. He was charged as an adult. The other teen who was involved in Hannah’s death was arrested as well, but his charges remained at juvenile status.

On July 4th, 2017, Skylar was convicted and sentenced as an adult to life in prison. His accomplice, who remains unidentified, was sentenced as a youth and will eventually be released. [read more]

Kevon Watkins(16): Killed his older sister, Alexus Watkins
Image result for kevon watkins alexus watkins
Kevon Watkins killed his 20 year-old sister Alexus Watkins after Alexus came to her mother's defense during an altercation at their Macon, Georgia home. On February 3rd, 2018, Kevon changed the family's WiFi password because he wanted to block his siblings and mother out of the network, so he could play video games without any connectivity issues. After the youngest sibling alerted their mother Latoya Watkins about this, Latoya disconnected the WiFi router and brought it into her bedroom. Kevon angrily followed his mother and began to confront her. Thinking that Kevon was about to hit his mother, Alexus ran into the room and grabbed him. Kevon then began to attack and choke Alexus. Police and paramedics were called minutes later, but unfortunately Alexus was unable to be revived. Kevon was arrested on the scene.

In 2019, Kevon was found guilty of murder charges. At trial, his defense attorneys argued that he did not intend to kill Alexus, however the prosecutors argued that he did intentionally choose to put her in a chokehold which resulted in her death. In August 2019, he was sentenced to life in prison. [read more]

Sarah Kolb(16): Killed her ex-friend/rival, Adrianne Reynolds
From left to right: Sarah Kolb, Cory Gregory, Adrianne Reynolds
Sarah Kolb and Cory Gregory were two teens from East Moline, Illinois who became fast friends after meeting in 2003. Cory harbored romantic feelings for Sarah, but Sarah identified as a lesbian and told Cory that she did not return his feelings. Still, Cory remained incredibly attached to Sarah and reportedly would do anything that she asked of him. In 2004, a new student at their school named Adrianne Reynolds caught Sarah's eye. Adrianne (16) began hanging out with Sarah and Cory at school, and her relationship with Sarah grew rather flirtatious. The two girls flirted back and forth for weeks, until Adrianne revealed to Sarah that she had recently been sexually intimate with two other boys. Sarah told Adrianne she was no longer interested in her after that. Adrianne spent the next few months trying to repair their relationship, but Sarah continued to give her the cold shoulder. Adrianne eventually attempted to create stronger friendships with other people--one of those people being Cory Gregory. Sarah reportedly grew incredibly jealous of Adrianne's budding friendship with Cory, and decided she had to put an end to it.

On January 21st, 2005, Sarah invited Adrianne to go to Taco Bell with her and Cory for lunch. Excited about the potential reconciliation, Adrianne gladly accepted the invite. On the drive there, Sarah confronted Adrianne about a note she had written to Cory. The two girls began to argue, and once they arrived in the Taco Bell parking lot, they began to physically fight. Cory, staying continuously loyal to Sarah, ended up helping hold Adrianne down as Sarah choked her to death. Sarah and Cory then asked their friend Nathan to help them dismember and dispose of Adrianne's body. Five days later, authorities found Adrianne’s remains at the Black Hawk Historic Site in Rock Island. 

Sarah, Cory, and Nathan were all eventually arrested. Sarah and Cory were both charged with two counts of first degree murder and concealment of homicide. Nathan was charged as a juvenile with concealment of homicide. Both Sarah and Cory were given life sentences. Nathan was given a juvenile sentence of 5 years. He passed away in a car accident a few years after his release. [read more]

Whitehead Twins(16): Killed their mother, Nikki Whitehead

Jarmecca 'Nikki' Whitehead (34) raised her twin girls, Jasmiyah and Tasmiyah Whitehead, as a single parent. Nikki and her daughters lived with Nikki's grandmother for 12 years, and during that time, the twin girls reportedly thrived. Both received good grades in school and were involved in extracurricular activities. This unfortunately changed once the girls hit their teenage years, and Nikki moved the girls to their own home in Conyers, Georgia. Nikki's once-strong relationship with Jasmiyah and Tasmiyah grew very tumultuous at this point. During arguments, the two girls would team up against their mother. Their fights would often result in physical altercations, and police were called to their Conyers home on numerous occasions. 

As the Jasmiyah and Tasmiyah got older, the conflicts between the twins and their mother continued to escalate. When the twins were 16 years-old, they decided to come up with a plan to get rid of their mother for good. On the morning of January 13th, 2010, Jasmiyah and Tasmiyah attacked their mother, stabbing her over 80 times. They then dragged her to the bathtub and left her there to die. The twins attended school after that, and when they returned home, they called 911 and frantically told dispatchers that they found their mother dead in a blood-soaked bathtub.

Police were immediately suspicious of the story that Jasmiyah and Tasmiyah told, but they did not have any evidence to charge them at the time. It took investigators a few months to collect evidence, but the twins were eventually arrested and charged with Nikki's murder in May 2010. They accepted a plea deal and were sentenced to 30 years in prison, where they remain today. [read more]

Aidan Zellmer(15): Killed Kiaya Campbell, the daughter of his mother's boyfriend

Aidan Zellmer met 10 year-old Kiaya Campbell after his mother began dating Kiaya's father. On the evening of July 7th, 2017, Aidan and Kiaya left her father's Thornton, Colorado home together to walk to the store. At some point during their walk, Aidan reportedly attacked Kiaya and sexually assaulted her. Then, he hit Kiaya five times in the head with a metal pipe before dragging her into a drainage ditch and leaving her there to die. Her body was found naked from the waist down in a drainage ditch the next day. An autopsy confirmed that Kiaya died from blunt-force trauma.

Aidan told authorities that he and Kiaya got separated when a storm broke out during their walk to the store. However, witnesses stated that it did not storm in the area where Kiaya was found. Additionally, Aidan's DNA was found on Kiaya's body. Aidan was arrested shortly after her body was found and was charged with Kiaya's murder. At this time, his name was not revealed to the public due to his minor age. By January 2018, though, Aidan was officially charged as an adult.Up until this point, Aidan had only been charged with Kiaya’s murder, but now he was being charged with sexually assaulting her as well. 

Over a year later, on February 1st, 2019, Aidan accepted a plea deal. He ultimately pleaded guilty to the first-degree murder of Kiaya. In exchange for the guilty plea, the other murder charges and the sexual assault charges were dropped. On March 11th, 2019, Aiden was sentenced to life in prison. [read more]

Boy A and Boy B(13): Killed their classmate, Ana Kriegel
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The perpetrators of this horrific murder were so young that their names and pictures have yet to be shown to the public. Very little has been revealed about the boy's lives, who are referred to as Boy A and Boy B in the media. What is known about Boy A and Boy B is that they were both 13 years-old when they planned and carried out the murder of their 14 year-old classmate, Ana Kriegel. 

On May 18th, 2018, Boy B lured Ana out of her family's Dublin, Ireland home by telling her that Boy A wanted to meet her at a nearby park. She was accompanied by Boy B when she left the home, and surveillance cameras captured the two of them walking together towards an abandoned house on a farm. Upon their arrival, Boy A proceeded to sexually assault Ana as Boy B watched. Then, Boy A proceeded to attack Ana before both boys fled the scene. Her body was found in the farmhouse three days later. Ana was naked and had a ligature around her neck. An autopsy later determined that Ana died of blunt force trauma to the head and neck. 

Boy A and Boy B were arrested shortly after the discovery of Ana's body. Both were charged with murder, and Boy A was also charged with sexual assault. The case went to trial in June 2019 and both boys, now 14, were ultimately convicted. They are now the youngest people to convicted on murder in Irish history. [read more]

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