Daphne Abdela & Christopher Vasquez: A bored little rich girl and her lackey boyfriend are on the prowl in Central Park, looking for someone to kill.
Sean Pica: What if a close friend asked you to murder her father? What if she claimed that he’d been sexually abusing her for years?
Rafael Solich: He was the weird kid in class, the one who dressed all in black and claimed to be a Satanist. All of his classmates avoided him. They were wise to.
Anthony Santo: There’s a serial killer loose on the streets of New York – and he’s just 14 years old.
Brandon McInerney: Pushed to the edge by the constant, unwanted sexual advances of a male classmate, a teenager decides to arm himself. Tragedy ensues.
Rickie & Danny Preddie: Barely into their teens, the Preddie brothers were already hardened criminals. They also committed one of Britain’s most high-profile murders.
Jennifer Tombs: Problem child Jennifer was an embarrassment of her mom, the local pastor. Embarrassment does not even begin to cover what she did next.
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Killer Kids Volume 5
The young man sitting at the defense table, the teenager with the scruffy beard and scraggly mustache, brought his hands up to his head and covered his ears. He could not bear to listen to the words that were being said, couldn’t stand the sound of his own voice droning from the television set that was replaying his confession to the members of the jury. In that confession, Chris Churchill was casually recounting the details of five murders, committed a year earlier, when he was just 16 years of age.
Christopher Churchill was born in Illinois in December 1981 and was raised by his mother in the tiny village of Noble, set among the cornfields and oil wells in the southern part of the state. Noble is a peaceful community of just 800 souls, a place where doors were left unlocked and neighbors greeted each other on the street. Unfortunately, Chris Churchill would grow up to be one of its less peaceable residents. By his mid-teens, he had a juvenile record and was known at the local high school for his unruly, anti-social behavior. In 1997, he’d been ejected from the school and transferred to another in nearby Olney. But he remained there less than a month before dropping out later that year. At that time, he was in trouble again, this time for hurling a rock at his girlfriend’s mother, hitting her in the eye.
Charges were still pending in that case in the summer of 1997, when there was a surprise arrival in Noble. Jonathan Lloyd was Chris Churchill’s half-brother and had moved from Texas where he’d been living with his foster family. He’d relocated to Illinois so that he could get to know his biological mother, Susan, and his brother, Chris. Jonathan was just a year older than Chris but a much calmer and more mature individual. Their mother was hoping that some of that attitude would rub off on her troubled younger son.
In October 1997, there was another set of arrivals in Noble. Debra Smith and her three children, Jennifer, 12; Korey, 10; and Kenny, 6. Debra was a co-worker of Susan, Chris and Jonathan’s mom, at a VCR packaging plant. She had recently separated from her husband and had decided to move from Olney to Noble. On arriving in the town, she lived for a short while with Susan, and it was there that she met Jonathan Lloyd. Debra was 32, Jonathan just 17, but the sparks immediately flew between them. They were soon involved in a relationship and had moved in together, renting a single-story frame house on North Noble Avenue. Chris Churchill would quickly become a regular visitor at the home, sometimes staying over.
One such occasion was the evening of Sunday, February 8, 1998. Earlier that day, Jonathan had presented Debra with an engagement ring and she had said yes. The family had also been shopping at Walmart, and the kids had come home bearing gifts, including a bicycle for Korey. Everyone was in high spirits when they arrived at the family residence and found Chris waiting on the doorstep. They welcomed him in and invited him to share in their evening meal. Then Chris, Debra, and Jonathan, along with Jennifer, sat down to play a few hands of cards. It was at this point that Chris’s surly side began to emerge. He became noticeably annoyed after losing consecutive hands and even more angry when Jonathan and Debra gently teased him over his abilities as a card player. He was still fuming when the family retired to bed.
What happened next in the Smith/Lloyd household is the stuff of nightmares. Angry over what he perceived as his brother’s humiliation of him, Chris sat seething in front of the television, staring blankly at the screen while he consumed beer after beer. Finally, he decided that the jibes could not go unanswered. Getting up from his chair, he went to the kitchen and began rooting around, eventually finding a hammer under the sink. This he carried to the room shared by 10-year-old Korey and six-year-old Kenny. Neither of the boys stirred as Churchill entered. Korey, no doubt dreaming about riding his new bicycle, was struck first, five vicious blows that shattered his skull and demolished the brain underneath. Then Churchill turned his attention to the six-year-old, killing the little boy with an equally vicious onslaught.
Having committed this savage double murder, Churchill returned calmly to his chair in the lounge. He looked at the clock which showed 5:56. The rest of the family would be rising soon. They, too, would have to die. A short while later came the sound of an alarm and Jennifer rising. Having stayed at the house before, Churchill knew her routine. She’d be heading to her brothers’ bedroom to wake them for school. On this particular morning, she would not make it. Churchill ambushed her in the passage, striking her down before she was able to utter a word. Then he headed for the master bedroom where he killed his brother and Debra Smith in their sleep. Finally, in an act of utter depravity, he returned to Jennifer and raped the little girl as she lay dying.
Chris Churchill, a boy of just 16, had brutally slain five people, three of them children. So what did the juvenile killer do? Did he flee the scene? Did he try to cover up his crimes? Did he suffer a breakdown? Did he call the police and give himself up? No, Chris did none of these things. Instead, he sat for a while watching TV before going to the bathroom to clean himself up, stepping over Jennifer’s corpse on the way. Then he fixed himself a meal and ate heartily. Finally, he raided his dead brother’s wallet, pocketing nearly $900 in cash. Only then did he leave the death house.
Over the next six days, Churchill would be seen entering and leaving the house on several occasions. At the same time, he was flashing the cash, splurging on takeaway meals, DVDs and other items. When a friend asked about the source of his newfound wealth, Churchill casually told him that he’d murdered his brother, his brother’s girlfriend, and “her brats.” The teenager laughed it off at the time but, on later reflection, he wondered whether Churchill might have been telling the truth. If anyone in their circle was capable of murder, it was Chris Churchill. Eventually, the friend decided to call the police and tell them about the conversation. That was how the murders were uncovered.
Taken into custody, Chris Churchill made no pretense at innocence. In a videotaped interview (the same interview that he’d later try to block out in court), he confessed in detail to the crimes. According to Churchill, he had committed the murders in order to relieve “pent-up stress.” He’d been thinking about killing Jonathan for some time, he said. The catalyst had been the humiliation he’d suffered at the card table. He also admitted to sexually assaulting Jennifer, saying that he “wanted to do something really bad.” If that was his intent, he had surpassed it.
Christopher Churchill was brought to trial in early 1999. Tried as an adult, he was looking at life in prison without parole should he be found guilty. And with his videotaped confession allowed into evidence, it seemed a foregone conclusion that he would be convicted. Churchill’s lawyer, William Hoffeditz, had other ideas, however. Hoffeditz launched an inventive defense. He suggested that it was not his client who had committed the murders but a group of his client’s friends. Churchill, he claimed, was taking the rap on their behalf out of some misguided sense of loyalty.
It was an interesting hypothesis. Unfortunately for Hoffeditz (and for his client), it was not supported by the evidence, the most damning of which was a Marilyn Manson T-shirt that Churchill admitted wearing at the time of the murders. The shirt had since been washed, but traces of blood were found on the stitching of a sleeve. Subjected to DNA analysis, it returned a match – to Debra Smith.
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