Thursday, August 8, 2019

The Murder of Kayla VanWert


18 year-old Kayla VanWert (pictured left) and 16 year-old Cathleen Boyer (pictured right) were former friends before they got into a fight on Facebook that turned fatal on May 29th, 2016. The two were fighting 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.

Kayla’s family members were well aware of the issues Kayla had been having with Jorge and Cathleen. In fact, just hours before Kayla’s stabbing, Jorge himself was arrested for dragging Kayla by her hair and punching her in the face at her mother’s home. The Facebook fight between Kayla and Catherine began after Jorge’s arrest.

Shortly after Kayla’s death, Cathleen openly admitted to being responsible in a Facebook post. She posted the following: “I’m wrong, I’ll admit it and I’m gonna turn myself in … but it is what it is at the end of the day, got to face the consequences … no remorse.” Cathleen was arrested shortly thereafter and charged as an adult with criminal homicide.

Cathleen’s defense attorneys claimed that Cathleen stabbed Kayla in self-defense. However, the Facebook messages between Cathleen and Kayla dispute this. The messages reveal that Cathleen herself initiated the fight, and while Kayla agreed to engage in the brawl, she did not bring a weapon or threaten Cathleen with any weapons. Cathleen later admitted that she did not stab Kayla in self-defense, but did not intend to kill her. On July 3rd, 2017, Cathleen pleaded guilty to murder in the third degree. She was later sentenced to 7-20 years in prison.

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