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KIDS WHO KILL – Interview with Dr. Helen Smith

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It is almost impossible for us to look into a child’s eyes and see them committing the ultimate crime – cold-blooded murder. No parent wants to consider the possibility, no school wants to be responsible for preventing it, law enforcement typically doesn’t deal with it until it is too late, and the mental health community often doesn’t have the resources to treat it. But kids DO kill, and with alarming frequency.

Government and religious figures want to blame this violence on the media, television, Hollywood, video games, music. And certainly there is blame to be handed out: school officials are reluctant to get involved because of lack of training, risk of culpability, and they do not want to be accused of overreacting; mental health worker’s hands are tied by stingy HMO’s and the trend toward de-institutionalizing the mentally ill; law enforcement is the last resort and by the time they get involved, the violence has often already occurred. That leaves one responsible entity to which all the others must turn for help: parents.

Today’s parents are bombarded with wildly varied, and often conflicting, advice. What was accepted wisdom for our parents is not necessarily so today. I see part of the problem as “too much of a good thing” parenting. In an effort to express our love for our children we shower them with unwarranted praise, material goods, excessive protection from disappointment and are often blinded to their ill behavior.

Some of us have been brainwashed to believe it is wrong to expect our children to be responsible for their actions, their treatment of others, or even their treatment of us, their parents. I have seen it at the earliest ages: toddlers hurt others and aren’t disciplined by their parents, leaving it up to daycare providers. When the providers relay the behavior to the parent, the parent makes excuses: “Well, he never does that at home,” or “She is just acting her age.” This lack of accountability by the child and the parents may continue as the child passes through the school system, and if left unchallenged, may wind up in violence.

In his review, Eric Olsen describes the powerful documentary that addresses a worst-case outcome of these issues:

    SIX, a documentary written by Knoxville forensic psychologist Dr. Helen Smith, washes over the viewer with the power of shaped fiction as it traces, via interviews and court footage, the inexorable, “perfect storm” series of baby steps that led straight down a rural Tennessee road to the 1997 murder of a mother, father, young daughter, and the severe wounding of their baby boy, and the conviction of six Kentucky teens for the heinous crimes.

I interviewed Dr. Smith about the making of her film. When she was conducting interviews for Six, Dr. Smith encountered great resistance from the educational system, law enforcement, and the community that had responsibility for teaching and socializing these kids:

    “When you are dealing with unstable people, it is hard to get cooperation, no one cares much for time schedules etc. For example, at one point in Pikeville, we were trying to get interviews with the group’s friends and they could only meet late at night in a small smoke-filled trailer and some did not want to talk.

    “The prison also gave me a hard time. They had let me come four years ago and interview the girls with tape recorders etc. This time, they would not let me bring anything, no camera, etc., which made the job of making a documentary difficult as we had to be creative and piece together material from the courts and their diaries.

    “Many people were afraid to talk with us because they had been ostracized if they had known the six, and did not want to take chances. For example, Betsy Lane High School refused to talk on camera, but then we found teachers at Pikeville High who were very cooperative.”

All the kids involved in the Lillelid’s murder had troubled pasts. Dr. Smith gives a brief summary of their personalities and challenges:

    “Natasha – the supposed ringleader was bipolar, a cutter and suicidal. She had latent aggression, which she tried to inhibit but when one person after the next rejected her (probably with good reason) she felt hopeless. She was married on her 17th birthday and her marriage lasted less than one year. She feared abandonment and would not let her husband out of her sight. One day he came home, got his stuff and left for good without so much as a good bye. That probably set the stage for Natasha feeling utterly alone and desperate.”

Natasha was clearly troubled mentally, but seemed to be the most intelligent of the group and the most charismatic. She also struck me as the most human of all the murderers. I genuinely felt sorry for her, despite this heinous act. The documentary included a number of taped interviews with Natasha’s mother, Madonna Wallen, whom I would describe a vacant parent at best. She seemed to love her daughter, but rarely did she mention taking an active involvement in helping her see the difference between appropriate and inappropriate behavior. She seemed content to be her friend, not her mother: a mistake for any parent of a teenager.

Ms. Wallen put a vast amount of responsibility for her daughter’s well being in the hands of authorities, who really hadn’t the time or the interest to help her. And the fact that she herself was mentally ill, impoverished and uneducated was a powerful catalyst to Natasha’s eventual outcome.

    “Karen Howell was bipolar, had a mother who thought she [Karen] was possessed and punished her by having her stand on a bible. She was probably very passive aggressive and while she would not become violent on her own, certainly had the tendency to be an instigator of violence.”

I wholly agree with Dr. Smith’s analysis of Karen Howell. I felt from watching the court proceedings that Karen seemed entirely disconnected from the event, even in a state of elation. She rarely showed remorse except under the most apparent of circumstances involving the Lillelid children. She struck me as a self-absorbed teenager, more concerned with her fate than the fate of her victims.

    “Joe Risner had a lot to prove. He wanted to gain acceptance with the group and was in love with Karen Howell. While not rejecting Joe, Karen seemed neutral on him and appeared to have more feelings for Natasha. Joe was probably very overly-controlled – that is he would hold everything inside until he finally blew up. The Lillelids probably represented everything about the Christian society that he had lived in, that preached tolerance but treated him and his friends as outcasts.”

Joe was the most puzzling for me to watch. Various characters in the documentary described him in effeminate terms such as “one of the girls,” “sweet,” “quiet.” He was articulate and emotional in his testimony, but it’s also important to mention that he began the kidnapping and possessed one of the guns during the murder. It was never determined if he was a shooter. While, Dr. Smith feels sure that Joe was involved in the shooting, it was hard for me to imagine such a wishy-washy person taking such decisive action.

    “The group dynamics had taken over by that point on the deserted road and Joe and Jason were playing good cop, bad cop and my belief is that both of these boys killed the family. The witness, Mark Gaby, in the doc said that there was a short period of time from when he heard one set of shots from one gun to the next set of shots from another gun. According to all accounts, Jason had only one gun so my guess is that he did not have time to get the other gun in a few seconds. The second series of shots, I believe were from Joe Risner.”

Ultimately, the impetus to murder was pinned on Jason.

    “Jason Bryant was just a conduct-ordered kid ready for some excitement. He had blatant aggressive tendencies. Natasha and Karen met the 14 year old while he was standing on a street corner. They thought he looked cool and picked him up. He was probably the perfect catalyst for their aggression. He would act out what they could only dream of.”

Jason was a killer waiting to blossom. Abandoned by his mother, neglected and most likely abused by his alcoholic father, he was trouble from the start. He showed absolutely NO remorse for his actions and seemed without empathy for anyone involved. If he wasn’t the only shooter, it was easy to see how the others could turn on him and pin the shooter role on him.

The remaining two members of the group, Dean Mullins and Crystal Sturgill, appear to have been primarily hangers-on: along for the ride, without the compunction to stand up and say “this is wrong,” but also without the will, drive or intelligence to orchestrate anything. They were drawn in by the charisma of the others and the desire to be accepted in to the group dynamic.

    “Dean Mullins was a rejected young man who could barely get women interested in him. He felt like his former girlfriend (prior to Natasha) wanted little to do with him. He was at a crossroads in his life – not knowing which way to turn. He met Natasha and found someone who brought out his dark side. It was exciting to him.

    “Finally, Crystal Sturgill was another bipolar who joined the group late in the game. She had been sexually abused by her stepfather and been kicked out of her house. With nowhere to go, she met up with Natasha and stayed with her and her mother. Madonna’s trailer had become the home for the wayward – a place where outcast kids could be themselves.”

I asked Dr. Smith for her view of the psychological dynamic behind the tragedy and she provided this insightful analysis:

    “I think all of the kids had a role to play but it was Natasha who was the catalyst for getting all of the kids together. She told me that when the kids decided to go on the road (to New Orleans) Joe had said they could make their way there by carjacking people at malls. Now if this girl were so innocent, why would she have been willing to go with a guy who had made his criminal intentions so clear?

    “Carjacking is a violent crime, so one has to wonder both about Natasha’s judgment and her intentions. My guess is that Natasha and perhaps Karen instigated the crime by saying something about robbing the family to the boys, but once they got to the point of murder, they did not have the stomach for it.”

While no one disputes that the six are responsible for the Lilliled murders, some of the blame for kids who kill should be shared with society as well. Dr. Smith continues:

    “We will always have parents in our society who cannot or will not take responsibility for their children. Of course, we saw some poor parenting with all of these kids but some of the parents were mentally ill themselves. With little help available, they struggled as best they could. Madonna Wallen was diagnosed herself with bipolar illness. The schools simply ignored the kid’s problems or overlooked them.

    “At one point when Natasha reached out for help from the principal, he called her a freak. This only left her feeling more vulnerable and like there was no authority or adult in charge to help her or guide her in life. Her mother could not do it and now the school would not help. At one point when her mother tried to kill herself, Natasha went to school and told her teachers what was happening. They ignored her. The community did not accept the kids, as they were different and had little money.

    “Certainly, the mental health systems did not help. The hospital that took Natasha Cornett knew she was dangerous but released her anyway. This is a daily occurrence. Medicaid, which is federally funded, will not pay for people who have mental illness to stay in the hospital. This leaves the burden on the states. Medicaid does pay if the person is placed out in the community, so the state lets them out.

    “However, ‘community’ help has never really materialized. There was no one following up with Natasha and her mother after the hospital. She was assigned a psychiatrist who told Natasha (at age 14) to call her when she felt she needed to come in. Again, the authorities did not take charge and Natasha was left to her own devices.

    “Law enforcement contributes indirectly to these problems by not providing proper monitoring of problem kids. Natasha had been on probation for writing forged checks at 13, but they never even sent anyone to talk with her or to supervise her. This lax supervision leaves kids with the feeling that they can get away with anything.

    “Finally, Jason Bryant’s father knew that Jason was leaving with a group of dangerous kids. He called the police and informed them that Jason was on probation and they needed to pick him up. The state police never even bothered to put the information out over the wire so that the trooper who stopped them for speeding could have been alerted. Of course, this trooper was afraid of the kids and did not ask questions or do anything.

Everyone involved shares some blame for the Lilliled murders, which is what I find so striking about the whole case: NO ONE took responsibility, not the murderers, not the parents, not the counselors, school officials, law enforcement, or the mental health community. The District Attorney was among the most useless of all involved: rather than trying to get to the root cause of the murders, he continued to play the “devil-worship” card and blamed their supposed involvement with the occult for the murders. What a waste of an opportunity make some changes for the good, to help prevent some future tragedy.

Dr. Smith works tirelessly in an effort to fix this broken system, and that devotion led to her difficult, rarely rewarding, even demoralizing work with the anti-social mentally ill. Her days are filled with the angry, violent, frustrated and ill, seemingly itching to strike back at society. Her impulse to repair the often un-repairable is also behind her determination to explore this case and bring it to a wider audience:

    “Seven years ago I had a teenage boy come to my office for an evaluation. I tested him and thought to myself, ‘This boy is going to kill someone.’ Sure enough two weeks later, he shot and killed a man in Knoxville during a party. At that point, I thought to myself, I had this information – how do we stop someone from this final act of murder? (at the time I could not call the police as he made only general threats, not specific ones).

    “I researched and wrote my book, The Scarred Heart, which explored the reasons why kids kill. In that book, there is a chapter on the Lillelid murders. I had interviewed some of the killers in that case at the Tennessee Prison for Women and found the case fascinating. It is a case study in which everything that can go wrong with the systems in our society leads to tragedy. I am affected every time I deal with patients who have had horrible encounters with our legal systems, courts and mental health facilities. The Lillelid case represented an extreme case of what can go wrong when no one wants to deal with people who are violent.

    “To recap, there are many steps along the way that could have prevented this tragedy: parents who are ill or have problems with their kids would benefit from a caseworker coming to the home and offering some support and suggestions. If staff at the school had taken an interest and made Natasha feel a little more accepted it would have helped. When Natasha went to the principal for help, he could have listened (even if he thought she was wrong) and tried to offer some support or at least check into the situation where other girls were threatening to beat her up. Just the feeling that an authority is listening and attempting to fix the problem is a comfort to kids who feel vulnerable and disturbed.

    “The community could have welcomed her a little bit more. At church they wanted little to do with her and she felt left out – hypocrisy [can] lead to anger and hostility in kids: here are Christians talking about accepting people but they treated her as an outcast.

    “Hospitals should not release people into society after 11 days who are dangerous. We need more community resources, especially in rural areas, that can monitor and supervise kids who are disturbed. Weekly therapy sessions with competent therapists and someone to monitor medication would be helpful.

    “Law enforcement should watch those kids on probation and make sure they meet their curfews, and stay involved until probation is over – not just let the kid off the hook. Operation Ceasefire in Boston targeted those kids who were troublemakers and made sure they were at home after curfew and took them into juvenile detention immediately after committing any violation of probation, and violence was greatly reduced.”

These six kids are like kids in your community, kids who may be friends with your kids, kids who may be your kids. Can any of us afford to pass the responsibility down the line, or should each of us decide to make a difference?

I will be conducting a follow up interview with Dr. Smith – if you would like to contribute questions, please email them to me at dmdo1016@aol.com.

For more information please check out Dr. Helen Smith’s website. You can order the documentary Six here.

We can all take part in making our world safer from violence.

Additional internet resources:
The Unthinkable: Children Who Kill
The National Mental Health Association
Get Real About Violence – Parents/Troubled Kids: What are the warning signs?
American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry

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About Dawn Olsen

  • http://caterwauling.com/blog cavalier

    I am most impressed with you and with this article, Miss Dawn. I volunteer for an anti-school-violence organization (www.ribbonofpromise.org) and just wrote an article for the publication I edit in Washington DC about school violence. And today, in Red Lion, Pa., a child shot his school principal and shot himself. We need to reach these kids before their inner rage makes national headlines. Congratulations on an article well done!!!

  • Eric Olsen

    I agree that this is an exceptional article and interview, taking a very hard look at a problem that won’t go away of its own accord. The film is excellent as well.

  • Dawn

    Well I have to thank Eric for helping me and Dr. Smith for being such a interesting and dedicated individual, this is her passion, and a passion that needs to taken seriously.

    Like you said Cavalier, it’s not going to stop until we decide to do something concrete about it.

    Thanks for the kind words. I would be interested in your thoughts about what could be done to curb these types of crimes in the future.

  • http://www.targetwoman.com/ lisha

    TargetWoman is a directory dedicated for Women with well researched articles of lasting value and a handpicked selection of websites targeted at Women.

  • Marlene

    Thank you so very much for the wonderful article.Finally someone is telling the truth.I am in full agreement with all you are saying.It has become a very sad world with so much violence and absolutely no consequence for any wrong doing.I am from Manitoba Canada and in our city of Winnipeg it has become a very dangerous place.So very sad.
    I just wanted you to know that I will pass this article along to all my friends.
    Keep up the wonderful work you are doing.
    Sincerely
    Marlene

  • Bennett Dawson

    Wonderful post. It’s not fun to read about the failure of society to help our disturbed children, but it is very important to read about it, and to reach out whenever possible. You did a fantastic job of presenting this painful subject, thank you so very much.

    Bennett

  • Dawn

    Thanks Bennett, it’s been a while since I have read this and it brought back the disturbing images created while watching the documentary. The fact that a few wayward, troubled teens could viciously kill people, especially a child, continues to make me wonder what kind of world we live in.

  • Judy

    I don’t know why you said, Karen mother made her stand on the BIBLE for hrs.That isn’t true. If she wasn’t a good christian woman she would sue you.

  • Selena

    You know I am in such disbelief about all the crap about how the corrupt system was responsible for these violent teenagers. I knew each of them personally, I have also been through not only sexual abuse, I am bipolar, and a recovering drug addict. I haved neither killed anyone, or plan to do anyone harm. As a matter of fact shortly after I graduated high school I joined the untied states marine corps. I think along with Dr. Helen Smith and these sick individuals, that they are all looking for someone other than theirsevles to blame.

  • Tyler

    I think you missed the point if you think Helen Smith is blaming society for those kids problems. She was saying many of people share the responsibilty of the murders. Of course when it comes down to it, it was the kids who pulled the trigger and in turn puts a majority of that responsibility on them, but I bet that drugs, abuse, mental illness, rejection, authoritative leniency ect. didn’t go very far in convincing them that “hey, maybe this is a bad idea.”

  • Selena

    In retalliation to your comment, I don’t think you understand my personal point of view about Dr Smith nor the sick people that committed murder in Tennesse. As far as authoritative leniency, the principal at the school Natasha went to didn’t overlook her or not help her he simply stated that if you are to dress that way then you are going to get negative attention from society. Basically society didn’t except these poor rejects. Boo HOO! As I said in my prior comment, I knew each of them personally, and I have also faced very tough obsticals in my life, including choking Karen, because they were all going to gang up and beat me with a ball bat! Drugs, mental, and sexual abuse didn’t have anything to do with it, neither did society, after all wasnt’ Dennis Radar, the notorious BTK killer supposedly from a good home, what would his excuse be? I know each of them personally and I hope they all rot for what they did to that helpless family!

  • Sean

    As someone raised in non-American countries, where most types of guns have been bought back from owners and crushed, where there is easy and universal access to medical care for anyone – no expensive insurance required, no limits on medical aid and getting appropriate care, where schools do not moralistically reject people in that fashion, where an understanding tolerance is practised, where the concept of ‘devil worship’ is laughable in a broadly secular society, I think that the nature of society really does have something to do with it in a compounding fashion. Especially when the babysitters of these unstable kids have probably been violent Hollywood fare in films and television, another product of American society. In this country, kids wouldn’t have a chance of getting easy access to guns at all. They would get appropriate medical care and treatment and monitoring. Even though the system is far from perfect, this sort of event would generally not happen elsewhere in the Western world outside of America. You should compare and contrast with other OECD countries and look for differences. The constant social rejection and American media imagery could easily feed into a romanticised world of nihilism, coupled with easy access to guns. Hilary Clinton tried to reform health care in your country, and Republican business interests in Congress shouted every change down. (And now it appears the Republicans have worked out how to rig every election.) ‘2nd amendment rights’ gun nuts and fetishists and allied Republican voting bloc interests will continue to make sure America remains a very unsafe, volatile place where extreme violence can occur randomly and without warning. *Appropriate* forms of social control and intervention appear to be completely lacking, swinging instead between harmful economic rationalism, Christian fundamentalism, hypocrisy and intolerance and institutional laissez-faireism.

  • sara

    Uh, Sean, I have absolutely no idea what you are saying nor what point your trying to make, I don’t need a bunch of 10 dollar words spoken to make yourself look more intelligent. Anywayz if you didn’t grow up in America and you have such a problem with it now, why are you here? And please don’t speak outloud about my president or my Republican party over the internet. Politics and religion, in America there is no right or wrong, only a matter of opinion.

  • http://www.KIllYourself.com RampageKiller

    This is especially for ‘Selena':

    You say you knew each of the killers personally, and you also claim that you ‘choked’ Karen Howell because they were ‘going to gang up on you and beat you with a ball bat.’ Somehow you neglected to mention WHY they were going to beat you up, but I can easily guess why. You’re most likely one of the taunting, bullying bitches partly responsible for helping to create people like Natasha Cornett, and you probably deserved a ballbat to the head. Be glad it was that family those children ran into that night instead of you, or there would be one less dumb bitch in the world. You sit there and say society and upbringing have literally nothing to do with how people turn out..are you retarded? You must be, because that’s the most stupid thing on this entire webpage I’ve read. You may hope they rot in prison, but I hope you die in a fiery car crash. Now everyone is happy!

  • Selena

    solely for my number one fan that scary Rampage Killer!! RAMPAGE KILLER!!!! OHH, gives me chills, really!! However simpleton, you are ready posts, you weren’t in the situation, nor did you know any of these delightful people. Opinions are indeed not facts, please for the sake of social security!! Get a JOB and pay some taxes, then maybe you will have less time to remark on something you know absolutely nothing about and actually do something with all that time on your hands!! LOL
    Bye the way is that the name on your Masters degree?

  • Tyler

    That was…uncalled for RampageKiller. If you don’t have something intelligent to say then please do the world a favor and do not post. It would be one less troll for us to deal with.

    “Basically society didn’t except these poor rejects. Boo HOO!”

    But that’s exactly a factor to what provoked them to kill that family. The mentality is if society rejects them and ignores their cries for acceptence, then what reasons do they have to adhere to societies laws? They withdrawal into their own little worlds of drug and physical abuse and began to grow numb to any sense of reality or moral. And when they hit the cross roads of deciding the fate of the Lillelid family, they have given themselves little reason as to why what they are doing is horrible. I can’t pretend to know what exactly life has given you Selena nor do I know those kids personally(nor wish to), however I must say that your views come with a strong personal bias against those kids. You come off as someone who disliked them before the murders and are happy that they are in jail due to your animosity of them rather then what they actually did.

    Again, I’m not placing the blame only on the type of life they had or on society or anything but them. I’m just saying that it’s not at all a difficult concept to say that all the personal problems they had that was caused from outside influence or otherwise, had a negative effect on their judgement capabilities.

  • SheBytes

    “Uh, Sean, I have absolutely no idea what you are saying nor what point your trying to make, I don’t need a bunch of 10 dollar words spoken to make yourself look more intelligent. Anywayz if you didn’t grow up in America and you have such a problem with it now, why are you here? And please don’t speak outloud about my president or my Republican party over the internet. Politics and religion, in America there is no right or wrong, only a matter of opinion”

    Sara, if you have no idea what Sean is saying–I think he made his point. Grow up. Get a dictionary. Don’t tell others not to have opinions (after all this is exactly what America is supposed to be all about). And of course there is right and wrong in politics, religion and anything else. e.g., war, etc. You are the one who needs to educate yourself re: this great country and its ideals and its words before you go spouting off your ignorant rants, ok? Please!

  • Selena

    Look, I guess I didn’t put enough information behind my comment with these people. To sum it up, I didnt get along with only a few of the kids. They indeed started a lot of trouble for me. However, I was not only great friends with Joesph Risner, but also Crystal Sturgill, I Dean Mullins. I have pictures from high school of Joe and I smoking marijuana with his parents. I also warded off bullies that picked on Crystal for the behavior she portrayed. As for Natasha, she clearly was a trouble maker and thought that she could get away with it. She wanted people to say, oh my god look at her, she strived for that attention. Joe, Crystal, nor Dean ever dressed goth before Natasha came to our High School. And they did indeed have friends. Natasha and Karen themselves chose to be outkasts. I don’t think they knew what they were doing in the Colley motel, I think they tried, but they didn’t exactly know how to do an occult ritual. I also read in a paper the other day that some girl was “trying to kill Natasha” in Prison. All I’m saying is if you strive for attention, positive, or negative you are going to get it, no matter the costs. And as far as them blaming society, or other people, they are the only ones to blame, they done it and now they are paying for it. I was bullied in Grade school myself, and my background is very similar to those of the Lillelid murders and I haven’t chosen this path, no one has chosen it for me. they did it and yes, they should pay. It takes a very cruel person to kill someone in cold blood, especially a child. And yes, as a matter of fact I do know about this first hand, my husband has been in the army for 17 years and he is in Iraq for his third deployment there, he could tell you somethings about having to shoot someone and not knowing the consequences.

  • ss

    I think part of the problem here is the argument over ‘who is to blame’.
    When Dr. Smith talks about the failures to identify, help, and if need be, institutionalize kids showing obvious warning signs, she isn’t absolving the kids of blame for the murders that already happened, she doesn’t have the legal power to do that.
    She’s pointing out what could be done so it doesn’t happen again.

  • tinyme

    Uh, Sean, I have absolutely no idea what you are saying nor what point your trying to make, I don’t need a bunch of 10 dollar words spoken to make yourself look more intelligent. Anywayz if you didn’t grow up in America and you have such a problem with it now, why are you here? And please don’t speak outloud about my president or my Republican party over the internet. Politics and religion, in America there is no right or wrong, only a matter of opinion”

    I completely agree with shebytes. Sara the only person here who is speaking 10 dollar words is you. By the way there is a difference between right and wrong and from the looks of it you don’t know much of it because you don’t know when to keep your mouth shut and all that is flowing from your mouth is ignorance. So i’ll repeat it again like shebytes said grow up and get a dictionary.

  • Roman

    SELENA- Since you knew these people I will address this to you. I work with troubled youths and meet many who pose and posture in the same manner that these people did. “I’m a Satanist!” “I am the Devil’s spawn!” ad infinitum. They dress and act differently and always claim they do it because they “Don’t give a F**k what people think”. I usually put it under the “Is everybody WATCHING me not give a F**k?!” category. Whatever. The point is that they usually grow out of it if they can avoid falling under the influence of a good sociopath(Jason)or charismatic borderline personality disorder(Natasha). Unfortunately it happened in this case.

    My question to you is do you really feel that they ALL had murder running through their veins? Were they ALL evil, like a mini-Manson Family? Or did a few of them just get mixed in with a bad apple or two and freeze up when things went over the edge? I mean, weren’t you just a little bit shocked? Take Karen Howell for example. If she told you that she had no idea that there would be murder, never wanted anyone killed and genuinely felt horrible that it happened, would you believe her? Divorce yourself from your personal feelings for a second here. Do you think that she and Crystal were happy watching that child screaming over her dead mother’s body just before getting a bullet slammed into her brain? I really want to know your point of view.

  • http://JasonBryant KellyB

    I have to agree that society had a lot to do with the way this all played out. Since reading this my husband feels that he could have done more for Jason. When he was 15 he saw 11 year old Jason being sexually abused be a family member, when he tried to tell someone he was told he was wrong and to never say that again. He wishes that he did tell someone else. A lot of people could have stopped this years before it even started. Their is always little or big things that can shape a way a person turns out!! That is way hind sight is always 20/20.

  • ROMAN

    Guess I’m not getting an answer to my Nov. 30 post. Bummer

  • Gurt

    re: Sean. sean comes across as a typical leftist reacting against American traditions & rights.

    personal responsibility is the bottom line blame for what these teenagers did. many could have done more to prevent this tragedy. i feel that ultimately the final blame falls to those who pulled the trigger.

    sean’s mention of Christianity is demonic propaganda. if everyone who had influence with these kids would have treated them decently, respectfully, with compassion, & with an eye to treating them as they themselves would want to be treated. then these kids may have seen the possibility of hope. doing so would have been basic Christianity 101.

    as for hilary’s socialized medicine. it was just that. socialism not reform. socialized medical care works so poorly in canada that canadian citizens are crossing into the US to get care faster.

    the whole 2nd amendment thing is more leftist socialist propaganda. if this family had been armed with knowledge & a weapon. ie wise as serpents but innocent as doves. they may have had a fighting chance against this murderous aggression. Americans repel criminal actions everyday through lawful use of firearms & their 2nd amendment rights. disarming the law abiding & thus enabling criminals is “nuts”.

    still want to believe that access to firearms is a problem ?? if these kids hadn’t had access to an automobile, they likely would have never met this family. we should ban automobiles ? thought not.

  • paulee

    if you take another life – real simple – you should lose YOURS. PERIOD. End of subject. If everyone KNEW AHEAD OF TIME that if they killed someone THEY WOULD BE KILLED…guess what? — THEY’D THINK TWICE.

  • http://alienboysworld.blogspot.com Christopher Rose

    paulee, in the USA they do kill people who commit murder. It doesn’t seem to do anything to reduce the murder rate though, does it?

    I don’t think people who are about to commit murder, whether pre-meditated or in the heat of the moment, are going to be thinking about the consequences.

  • Roman

    Does anyone else here think that some of these kids got railroaded? I think that Jason Bryant and possibly Joe Risner were guilty of murder and deserve to do life. What about the others? After watching the film I’m just not convinced that this was a mini-Manson Family(as the DA seemed to want the viewer to think). Natasha Cornett seems like a troublemaker and drama addict, but a murderer? Karen Howell seems far too mentally and emotionally frail to have done or supported this.

  • Mother Nature

    I just wanted to let everyone know that Selena was one of the bullies in school that called Natasha a freak because of the way she dressed. Natasha liked to wear bikers’ clothes, they were not all black. I thought Selena had grown up a little and made friends with Natasha before the murders happened but I guess Natasha was lied to about that too.This was a tragady that happened and no one will be able to forget it. I just wished people only knew who the real Natasha was.

  • NERO

    MOTHER NATURE- You knew the girls involved in the murders? So do you think that Natasha and Karen had it in them to murder? Or take pleasure in it? It didn’t come across that way in the interviews I’ve seen.

  • EyE4anEye

    I’m glad you knew the real Selena and the real Natasha. If your that forth coming in knowing them both why the nickname? I knew the whole lot of them and I know for a fact that shortly after Selena graduated she left Eastern ky. How could it be possible for them to “MAKE NICE?” Apparently you don’t know these people as well as you say you do, or perhaps you just have a biased opinion much like everyone else that has taken sides in this debate. Bottom line is this reguardless of who done what and who is to blame, the killers, whom ever they were, or are, are paying their debt to society. As for who really done it. Guess that will continue to be their secret.

  • EyE4anEye

    Mother Nature- I think it’s amazing how biased everyone seems to be on the who dunnit list! As for me I personally know that Selena Bell joined the armed services when she graduated high school. So as for kissing and making nice with Natasha, nope I don’t see Selena stooping that low or even caring for that matter. All of us get s–t on in high school, it don’t matter who is to blame for bullying. If you are the person that chooses to take it that far, then your way too serious about high school. 20 years after graduation does anyone remember who didn’t like who? Nope, however, they will remember the mini mansion family knowns as these people. As for who is to blame, Natash knew she had so-called emotional problems, she chose not to take her medication. An Andrea Yates she is NOT! As for the murders, they done it, and know they will spend the rest of their lives right where they belong. NUFF SAID

  • Nero

    EYE4EYE- What bias are you talking about exactly? You speak as if everyone here has a “bias” or hidden motive except you.

  • EyE4anEye

    No Nero, I’m sorry, I wasn’t being biased about or to you. I specifically addressed Mother nature. I am sorry that you were confused. by my comment.

  • NERO

    Eye4EYE- No problem at all. But I am curious: you say that you knew “the whole lot of them” and I have no reason to doubt you. But having known them, did you honestly feel that they were all murderers? As has been stated in previous posts, Karen Howell and Crystal Sturgill seemed to be pretty emotionally fragile people and it’s hard to picture them as being OK with the senseless and cold-blooded murder of an innocent family. Let alone guilty of what the DA accused them of, which was laughing and performing satanic rituals over the bodies. Karen Howell seems like the type who would faint at the mere sight of a dead body up close.

    What’s your take? Did they do the deed? Or did they merely go into a state of understandable shock after seeing the Lillelids brutally gunned down right in front of them by Jason Bryant(a true sociopath if ever there was one)? And if after seeing it isn’t it reasonable that they would be afraid of the killer and thus not want to risk being killed themselves by trying to break off from the group or recommending to the rest that they should give themselves in?

    I really wanna know your thoughts on this. Thanks.

  • NERO

    EYE4- Scroll up and see Roman’s Nov. 30 post. That’s kinda how I feel about it. Very important questions to consider.

  • EyE4anEye

    Nero- reguardless of wether or not Crystal Sturgill and Karen Howell took part in the killings, do you honestly think they done anything to try and stop them? I will be the first to admit that knowing them personally, Crystal, Karen, Dean, nor Joe seemed like killers to me or anyone else. However, honestly, I wouldn’t have stood by and watch them shoot innocent babies, they would have to have killed me in the process. Then after the blood bath, none of the teenagers tried to break away from the others to let anyone know what had happened. In Natashas interview, she asked them not to kill the family, been me, I guess I would be lying there with the family. I’m not saying Crystal, or Karen were invloved in the killing, I’m saying they never did anything to stop it. Which in part makes them just as guilty. Would you have tried to stop them from shooting babies? I’m not being sarcastic, I’m asking you what would you have done in this situation, honestly?

  • Nero

    EYE4- I wanted to write back immediately after reading your post last night, but then I decided to sleep on it cuz your questions/observations are important and I felt deserved more than a bit of thought on my part.

    First off, let me state for the record that I am not an apologist for criminals. I am as hardcore an advocate for justice-as-punishment(to hell with rehabilitation) as you are likely to find anywhere. Now, on to my main points:

    As adults it is easy for you and I to speculate on what we would do in that situation because we now have a solid grasp on ourselves and who we are. When I try to envision myself at 17 in that situation, however, it is a bit more difficult. Life is still kind of a game at that point and we tend to think of ourselves as indestructible(how else to explain all the crazy, rash and risky things teens do?). But at some point we grow up and realize that we are indeed mortal, that this isn’t a game and that there are evil people in the world who do evil things. It’s a wake-up call that I’m sure you’ve had already as well.

    Have you ever witnessed an incredibly violent act that put you in a state of shock and disbelief? Like, “I can’t believe this is happening”? I don’t believe that anyone there that day(save Jason Bryant) could have imagined in their wildest dreams that that a beautiful family would be snuffed-out violently right before there eyes. The people who read about the act in the papers or saw the tv news reports were shocked. Imagine what it must have been like to actually WITNESS it. It probably happened so fast that nobody knew what to do.

    I have worked in the psych field (with troubled teens) for many years and have dealt with many kids who were practically identical to the “Pikefield 6″. In fact I remember clearly one day when one of our patients was found hanging in his room by a belt. We came out and announced it to his fellow patients as gently as we could and watching their reactions was a case study on how many troubled teens just arent equipped to process that kind of trauma. Some just looked blankly at us as they wrestled with their feelings, some shut-down(ala Karen Howell)and withdrew into themselves. Some even giggled nervously, though you could tell in their eyes that they found nothing humorous about it at all.

    He’d threatened to do it several times and we told his peers that it was no joke, but they still never believed he’d actually do it. Well, he did. I’m sure his peers did a lot of growing up that day and remember that lesson to this very day, a decade later.

    My point is that sometimes young people- even HEALTHY young people, let alone troubled- don’t react to certain situations in the same manner as adults do. That is the difference between maturity and immaturity. Did they really believe that any of their number would actually pull the trigger on an innocent family? Even when the gun was pointed at their heads?

    More later tonight. I gotta run to work…..

  • Nero

    …OK, I’m back. To continue, I think that it all just happened so fast. I mean, you just discovered that your friend is capable of doing what we like to think that none of us could do: murder an innocent family in cold blood. How does one react when a teen? Do you rush the little maniac while he’s shooting, the danger being that he might turn the gun on you and end your life as well? Knowing also that after killing you and anyone else in his way he’ll probably just turn and finish the job on the family?

    Or after recovering from the initial shock do you threaten to go immediately to the authorities(another risky decision under the circumstances)? Or do you bide your time and wait until you arrive at your destination, where you can separate from the pack and safely find help?

    I often wonder what would have happened had they made it across the border and went their separate ways. I’m betting that one or more would have eventually came out of their shock and reported to the authorities. I just can’t believe that all 6 were perfectly OK with what happened and could live with it. That’s not the feeling I get from them and from what you’ve told me neither do you.

    Funny, but I just watched the documentary “Six” and “City Confidential: Pikeville” with the teens at my work last night. Afterward I asked them which teen or teens out of the 6 did they got a bad feeling about and they all singled-out Jason Bryant. Then I asked who they thought the killer or shooter was and they again unanimously singled-out Jason. They also pointed out how Natasha’s mother and friends of Natasha, Karen and Joe all agreed that they got a bad feeling from Jason.

    Notice how they were all able to spot the sociopath? These young people have no experience in the psych field and yet were able to spot the bad apple that spoiled the bunch. For myself and others who actually work in the field it is as simple as ABC.

    To bring this to a conclusion, I agree with you that ALL deserved punishment for being a part of certain aspects of the incident. They kidnapped the Lillelids- which all were pretty much complicent in(I’ve never heard about any of them trying to stop that from happening). Joe Risner and Jason Bryant were the main culprits here and deserve the lion’s share of the blame. They stole a van and all were justifiably charged with that as well. Murder? To me, from all I’ve seen and read, that falls solely on Jason Bryant. Again, I don’t believe the others really thought it was going to happen until it actually did, and by then it was too late to stop it.

    In my opinion they all should have gone to prison. Life WITHOUT possibility of parole?? No, I think that is way out of proportion. At least in the case of Karen Howell, Crystal Sturgill, etc. I think if they’d known that babies would be shot and killed ahead of time they would have made plans to stop it somehow.

    I agree with you. They should somehow have taken action. They froze-up instead. What does one do in this case? Is it understandable on some level, given the shocking and sudden nature of the shootings? Do they deserve life with no parole for freezing up in this situation?

    Like you I’m not being sarcastic here. After pondering these questions I really wanna know what you think.

    Looking forward to your thoughts….

  • kenny

    Re- “As someone raised in non-American countries, where most types of guns have been bought back from owners and crushed”

    Yes, Sean but you forgot something– the criminals in your society still have guns!

    re Sean-“where there is easy and universal access to medical care for anyone – no expensive insurance required”

    But your medical care is quite expensive, you just pay for it through your taxes and it’s not easy access when it’s rationed by the government and you sit on a waiting list for a year now is it?

    Sean”where schools do not moralistically reject people in that fashion, where an understanding tolerance is practised, where the concept of ‘devil worship’ is laughable in a broadly secular society”

    Sadly, kids get get rejected in schools all over the world but they don’t kill people and occult beliefs occur in most countries. Really Sean, you should know better.

    “I think that the nature of society really does have something to do with it in a compounding fashion. Especially when the babysitters of these unstable kids have probably been violent Hollywood fare in films and television, another product of American society”

    Exactly what do you know about the “nature” of American society when you are not from the US so spare me your arrogant ignorance. You are also hardly in a position to point fingers at American society. Look at Eurotrash society, it glorifies sex and drugs and youth crime rates are rising(England is much higher than the US for example) whereas American youth crime rates have fallen, despite the media attention given to Natasha C. or Columbine. European teens often make Americans look tame. .

    “And now it appears the Republicans have worked out how to rig every election.) ‘2nd amendment rights’ gun nuts and fetishists and allied Republican voting bloc interests will continue to make sure America remains a very unsafe, volatile place where extreme violence can occur randomly and without warning. ”

    While I’m not a republican, this drivel is ridiculous, even for you Sean. You really should stop beliving what your news media feeds you about the US because your comments are so typical and laugable. Try thinking for a change Sean. (If you want to look at violence, it’s rampant throughout the the Western world, contrary to what many believe ie. no-go areas in European cities, rapes, home invasions, murder(look at the Canadian pig farmer who made sausages out of his murder victims), the German kid who shot his classmates, drive-bys in England, Canada etc etc.

    “Appropriate* forms of social control and intervention appear to be completely lacking, swinging instead between harmful economic rationalism, Christian fundamentalism, hypocrisy and intolerance and institutional laissez-faireism”

    Describes the rest of the Western world, except replace Christian with Muslim.

  • george zelaya

    I am Delfina Lillelid’s brother. As we approach the tenth anniversary of her, and her family’s brutal attack, I am constatly disgusted by the ammount of coverage granted to the perpetrators of this horrific crime. Dr. Smith has made her agenda to try to figure out the root of why some teens kill. She blames their environment and the failures of society for the actions they commit. Her exploitaion of these crimes in order to further her own fame is deplorable. In most of these books and films that depict teen violence, the focus is rarely on the victims and their families. Not once were any of our family contacted for our opinions or the effects of this tragedy on our lives. These six were very fortunate that they did not attempt their actions with myself and my close ones because I would have used my 2nd ammendment rights to the fullest.

  • Batman

    I think thier are only six people who know what happened. In none of the stories was anyone but Joe and Jason the shooters. The rest had crimes they could have paid for but murder shouldn’t be one of them.

    My life was very similar to what these kids lead, and I never killed anyone. I’m very lucky in that regard.

    These kids no matter how macabre thier actions do still mean something to people who didn’t kill anyone, give them some respect.

    Also nice to see such a large bunch of ppl mainly you Selena who are quick to judge someones actions when you weren’t even thier. DON’T WORRY SUGAR SOMEONE IS GOING TO JUDGE YOU SOON ENOUGH!!!!

  • The truth is a Virus

    George you are a typical hypocrite, to judge the six young adults for murder and then boost that you would have killed them. Murder is murder the six young adults no matter what your reason or who is doing it.

    The biggest problem I have with this case is that Joe Risner is quoted as saying ‘They’ve seen us and they’ll call the police. They’ve all got to die.'” if discovery was his reason for killing everyone why did the children have to be shot? The reason is because who ever did the shooting wanted to kill someone.

    Also all I ever here in this case is Natasha, Natasha, Natasha. I fail to see how she was the ringleader when Joe made the decision that everyone had to die. That should have been a point that one of her attorneys SHOULD have made in her behalf.

    I personally hope that one day a judge sits before this case and Natasha Cornett, Karen Howell, Crystal Sturgill, and Dean Mullins are released and are able to live the rest of thier lives.

    I assume that most of you blogging here are adults and have children. Remember you never know who your child might get involved in and what they may do. You might one day experinece the same thing these young adults and their families are going threw.

  • Against the Odds

    MOTHER NATURE- Know that not everyone is so closed minded when it comes to this case. It’s a shame that the outcome of this case has been what it has up until tihs point.

    You said that you wished that people knew who the real Natasha was, well some of us do. I’m very glad to have had the chance to get to know her and I don’t know that she will ever know how much she really means to me, I only hope that one day she will.

  • Nero

    TRUTH/VIRUS- He’s not so much a “hypocrite” as someone who lost his sister in a senseless murder(something most of us will never experience, thank God). Though I agree with you that some of the defendants are not guilty of murder and should be free, I still think that you could couch your comments with a bit more empathy and understanding of his viewpoint.

  • Selena

    I am deeply sorry for what has happened to your family George. I hope to never experience the pain that you have had to go through, nor the pain that Peter Lillelid will experience growing up without his parents or sister. As for my personal opinion about the people involved, that is just what it is. MY opinion. No one has to respond to it, or argue it. I was mearly stating how I, as an individual felt about what happened to these 6 people. As for judging, I’m not entitled to judge anyone. If anyone thought I was then I apologize for that. I didn’t log on here to cause a heated battle over right or wrong. My husband is coming back from is second tour in Iraq, I don’t have time to be bitter over these people, I’m too happy to even think about it at all. What happened, happened. Getting on here night after night arguing over it won’t solve any of it. And I doubt that anyone will ever know the truth. Not only is this article from a certain point of view, but the documentary six is as well. A&E done one on City Confidental that is from a completely diffrent point of view. I refuse to try and defend myself on here against anyone, cause that isn’t what any of this is about. And as for personal attacks on me. Your wasting your time, I don’t lose sleep at night over them, so why bother? Some people kill, others don’t. And not everyone is predictable. I won’t pretend that I know who really shot them, or who stood by and watched, however I do believe in the justice system and I also believe that what comes around, goes around.

  • Carl

    I have always thought that is the father had minded his own business and kept his religous beliefs to himself that he and his family would still be alive.

  • Carl

    And Selena do you remember me, it’s Crazy Carl. You were a snotty little bitch in school always ridiculing everyone and making them feel like shit over anything you could.

    I remember you picking on Cornett and that other girl quite a bit.

    For those of you that didn’t know them they stuck out but they didn’t cause anyone any problems. I rembember them as nice if you actually stopped to say hello. I didn’t hang out with them but we talked on a few occasions about different things.

    The demoness at that school was Selena and her friends. I’m surprised she didn’t make someones hit list.

  • Nero

    CARL- Can you make your points without reducing yourself to childish name-calling?

  • Selena

    Well Carl, this is how much I knew you and how much of my life you’ve affected, I honestly have no idea who you are, and frankly, don’t care. As far as hit lists go if someone wants to hurt me over drama from high school, when I was a child, they really need to get a life and quit worring about garbage that happened years ago. LOL! Don’t you think it’s time to move on from High School and well, grow up! Second, you have no idea what happened between Natasha and I unless you were there the night I sat outside her boyfriends car waiting on her after she and her friends agreed that I needed my butt kicked. Well, if you have all this bulit up anger, maybe you need to contact Dr Smith yourself cause you sound really passive-agressive to me.

  • Carl

    yeah you’ve moved on so much you feel the need to check this site everyday.

  • Selena

    actually I check this site to read opinions of both Nero and Roman because they are just about the only people that make intelligent comments. And not only that they really try to figure out from non parcial opinions as to why this really happened. I’m not going to lower myself to your standards and cat call back and forth. For starters, I wouldn’t even know who I was arguing with, or care. Please do us all a favor Carl, post a comment that actually is worth typing or go back to your special place and stay there, please! Because the comment you made about the father, not only wasn’t puncuated, but it really didn’t make sense. That is almost like saying that if Jesus Christ would have kept his mouth shut he wouldn’t have been hung on a cross. With their religious beliefs, I’m pretty sure that spreading their religion by word of mouth is something they believe in. I don’t claim to know anything about thier religion, but they way you make it sound is they were shot for it. I don’t like unsolicited religion either, but I’m not gonna shoot someone or their family for it. See know you got me on a whole other circumstance. Do yourself and everyone else a favor and the next time you get a idea to type something that ridiculous again, just let it go please.

  • Nero

    CARL- sounds like you’ve got a bone to pick. What’s eatin’ ya?

  • Tonya

    I’ve only recently started thinking about this crime again, and it troubles me greatly. I went to Prestonsburg High School with Joe for awhile, and remember him as being one of the sweetest, goofiest kids I had ever met. To this day, it is still difficult for me to imagine what happened to that blue eyed boy that seemed so full of life. A few weeks prior to the event, the group of them were in the community college library where I worked. A friend and I both noticed a marked difference in Joe, and that as a group, they seemed very foreboding. We had no idea what would transpire a few weeks later…

    My heart goes out to the families of those left behind…yet, though angry at first, my heart goes out to each of the six as well. It is difficult for those that have never lived in this region to understand what it’s like to be different in one of the most close-minded parts of the world. Growing up, I loosely flowed with the cultural norms, but I was friends with all groups of people. I watched countless kids be verbally abused and threatened daily, sometimes enduring much worse. There really is such a feel of “suffocation” that overtakes you at times, feeling completely taken over by the culture of this area.

    While I’m not dismissing any blame from the six for what occurred, I know quite well the cruelty and abuse that they endured before making the choices that they did. I can’t help but wonder what would have happened if someone had stepped in with love instead of judgement.

    Another documentary from this region, “Country Boys” featured a young boy that looked much like the six. His name was Cody. He also came from a backgrond of abuse and violence. He chose to express himself in a way that wasn’t “norm” acceptable. However, at some point, during his anger and difficulties, he discovered someone that sincerely loved him and taught of God without judgement. Cody transformed what could have been a very dark path to one of much more promise. He and his wife are some of my best friends, and after thinking back to the tragedy of the Lillelids, I am so thankful that someone reached out to Cody in a way that he was able to respond.

    Mostly, this just all makes me look at my life, my past and present, and question how I treat those around me. Do I truly embrace those that are different than me? Do I pay attention to the pain that someone else feels? Just one act of love and sincere kindness could help end this violent cycle….

  • Nero

    Tonya- Thanks for that input. Let me ask you this: do you think they are all “murderers”? Or that the punishment of life without parole for all 6 was out of proportion for those who didn’t kill nor advocate it? When you last saw Joe he obviously seemed a bit darker to you. But did he seem like someone who would kill?

  • Durkl

    Has anyone actually read the book “The Scarred Heart”?

    I have not but was tihnking about looking for it on amazon.

    How about the movie “Six”, has anyone watched it?

    I have not but want to order it.

  • Nero

    DURKL- SIX is an excellent documentary. It gives a well-balanced point of view from several sides of the issue. It’s what got me thinking that maybe not all of the six defendants are murderers or even had murderous intent.

  • Durkl

    NERO- Do you have a email you can share so that we can discuss this in private a little more?

  • fuck u all and no one

    uhh..

  • STM

    Guns, guys, and the ready access to them is the real reason behind the tendency of angry young Americans (who are no different to angry young people anywhere) to pick up a firearm and go on a shooting spree.

    Too easy when Dad’s rifle or handgun is stored on the top shelf of the closet with a box of bullets.

    Check out the figures and see for yourself. Most of these killings by young people are done with firearms.

    In places where there is no ready access to a weapon, the usual response from a young angry person might at best be a punch in the mouth.

    Think, guys. And instead of engaging in continuous bouts of handwringing, do something about it. You don’t need the second amendment.

    It was designed to keep an armed militia 200 years ago.

    Here endeth the tirade.

  • Selena

    You know some time has gone by since I felt a lot of hate for these people. Of course I just wanted to blame them for everything and be completely closed minded. Now that I have been studying some criminal psychology, I don’t to blame then. My weird interest in criminal psychology has really opened my mind about only this situation , I have a strange interest in criminal psychology. I read nothing but true crime books Some were vvery emotional. I won’t be so black and white about this anymore MY passion is to do, basically what Helen Smith does. I”m bipolar, there for I have emotional problems. So what I”m tryin to say is that if anyone could help me out on learning more about basic psycholog. Let me me know if some has some insite on the whole subject.

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy in Jerusalem

    Dawn, this is directed to you. I have no idea of what happened with the Six who were involved with a murder, I cannot comment on it at all – and I won’t.

    But, this article and the comments it brought out are an example of the success of the magazine that your husband started three years ago.

    Check out the comments here. A lot of the folks commenting knew the convicts and one knew the victims personally. The article has not died, even though it is from the beginning of the magazine, over three years ago, and would be regarded as old news anywhere else.

    Whatever you all do here, do not change the essential format. This article is proof of its success. Kol hakavód – all honor to the both of you.

    A comment for the rest of you who have come to comment on this terrible event.

    Speaking as a parent with two teenaged boys, one of whom is being contacted by the army here to be drafted, it has been my view that the mother and the father are the primary ones responsible for the up-bringing of their children. Period. Society has its role to play, but we parents have been given an opportunity by the Almighty to help mold a soul to do good or to do evil, to choose life, or to choose death.

    Children are not all born perfect. They have defects, and our job as parents is to help them cope with the defects in a way that they will be able to be as whole as possible when we ourselves die, and can no longer try to guide them away from unwise decisions.

    This is all preventive work, so that groups of children do not forgather to murder other families in cold blood, and events like the one commented on so extensively here do not scar other lives.

  • NERO

    SELENA- I’ve worked in psych for many years. Especially with bipolars. Be happy to help you any way I can.

  • NERO

    and I think it’s impressive that you’ve allowed yourself to change your point of view, too. Sometimes it’s hard to see through our own prejudices and indignation, especially when on top of it you’re dealing with the near-unmanageable emotional swings that bipolars suffer through. You’re a tough, brave chica.*s*

  • harley

    I live in the town where these murders occurred, Greeneville,TN. These events have forever changed our small quiet little town.I remember when this happened the whole town was in disbelief that this could happen in our area.Because of the type of people that live in our area (open and friendly) I’m sure Mr. Lilliled had no fear at all when he attempted to reach out to what he thought to be some troubled youth in need of love.I guess he was too late.During the trial all that was talked about was the fact that the leader (cornett) was a witch ,devil worshiper,etc.So automatically everyone assumes that that was the reason for the violence of the crime.I’m not so sure it wasn’t .Even taking into consideration the background of each person involved here ,I believe you can open yourself up to evil to enter into your being and it can take control of your life just as the young lady said that Joe seemed darker.The district attorney in our county had I’m sure never dealt with any crime this violent and bizzare and he did what he felt he needed to do to put them all behind bars and by getting them all to plead guilty to save each other from the death penalty was a major coup. He also saved the taxpayers lots of money while making sure these monsters were off the streets.Shooter or not I feel they all were equally responsible and had they not all been sent to prison I think they were capable of much more mayhem.Thanks for allowing me to offer my comments.In closing; Our town after that fateful night lost its innocence forever.

  • Nero

    HARLEY- Jason Bryant was the only “monster” out of the group. The others weren’t “monsters” and nothing in their past would justify such a label(except unreasoning religious hysteria and slavish acceptance of the media’s gross misinterpretation of the events). They were deeply troubled teens with poor coping skills who froze up during the most horrifying event of their lives, thus showing consistency in their well-documented inabilty to cope and process. They had no previous history of violence and there’s no reason to think that they would be a danger to society if they were released. They should be released, with the exception of Jason Bryant and Joe Risner.

    Before you judge, separate yourself from the lies you have been sold and look into the history of each individual involved. And before I myself am accused of being an apologist for them or a “monster” too, rest assured that I’m not jumping up in the air, clicking my heels together in joy that an innocent family is dead. I just think that much blame has been misplaced based on ignorance and hysteria.

  • Nero

    I take that back, I don’t think the blame has been misplaced based on media hysteria and ignorance…I KNOW it has. Because I have done a lot of research and homework on this case. I challenge everyone reading this to do the same.

    Because if anyone comes on here repeating the discredited “facts” of the case(and many have been proven inaccurate and discredited), the lies and the exaggerations, I WILL call you on it. I will be happy to listen to anybody who does their research.

  • Nero

    BTW Harley….none of those last posts were meant to be an attack upon you. So please don’t take them that way*s*

  • Steele66

    Selena: What can you tell me about Karen Howell? She was kinda hot. Were her and Natasha kinda slutty chicks too, or not really?

    What kind of girl was Karen? Was she smart, or sort of brain dead? Did she have a good sense of humour?

    Anyone that knew Karen Howell, please post info about her and what she was like.

  • Roman

    Check out this great website. http://www.pikeville4.com It gives a whole new(and complete) version on what REALLY happened on that day in April, 1997.

  • Truth

    This is from a person who knew Karen Howell before these crimes. Her intelligence is low. Her efforts at education/learning were nonexistant. She was a very beautiful young girl. Observing her at a young age, the word I used to describe her was “follower”. She would follow whomever she was attracted to at the moment, and would behave like those she followed. She was a failure at being an individual.
    All that being said, she is where she needs to be. If she didnt follow in this circumstance, she would have followed in another and been a burden to free society. Many people suffer from various problems in their lives, but dont murder innocent people. She was a train wreck waiting to happen, and met another train wreck, Cornett. The punishment for accessory to murder is the same as those who pull the trigger. You are (she was) part of these murders. They chose to follow Satanic influences, now they reap the benefits from a cell. Face the truth and serve your time.

  • chip navarro

    sara….. sean hits it right on the head and it’s ‘dullards'(look it up)like you who perpetuate the horrors we now see in america.. and the republicans??? you dare tout a president(read:republican party) that is given a 3trillion dollar surplus,, runs thru it and puts us trillions more in debt?… you must be f*&%$# rich…..

  • Mikey B

    Karen Howell was hot. She should have just left Pikeville and let her looks give her a shot at a better life somewhere.

  • ANGEL

    HI I JUST READ YOUR STORY ABOUT NATASHA CORNETT AND CRYSTAL STURGILL. I WAS IN PRISON WITH THEM I WAS THERE WHEN THEY FIRST CAME IN. IN FACT I WAS HANGING AROUND THEM WHILE I WAS THERE . I JUST WANT TO SAY THAT I FEEL SORRY FOR KAREN AND CRYSTAL NATASHA WAS THE RING LEADER SHE WAS VERY BOSSY AND TRIED TO MAKE PEOPLE DO THINGS THEY DIDNT WANT TO DO. THEY DO CUT THERE SELVES AND SUCK EACH OTHERS BLOOD EVEN STILL IN PRISON. I HAVE NOT HEARD FROM THEM IN A LONG TIME MY CONTACT WITH TASHA STOPPED BEFORE I EVEN LEFT. ME AND HER JUST STOPPED TALKING I CONTINUED TO WRITE KAREN AND CRYSTAL WHEN I FIRST LEFT BUT QUIT BECAUSE HERE I AM FREE AND THEY ARE LOCKED UP FOREVER WHAT I COULD I SAY TO THEM

  • shannon

    I HAVE TO SAY I WAS RECENTLY IN PRISON AND MY CELLMATE WHOM I DIDNT KNOW NOTHING ABOUT WAS THE MOST PRECIOUS PERSON IN THE WORLD TO ME KAREN HOWELL VERY SWEET NOT IN A MILLION DO I BELIVE KAREN KNEW ANYTHING ABOUT WHAT TOOK PLACE THAT NIGHT. WHEN THE CASE WAS TALKED ABOUT SHE CRIED DEEP BECAUSE OF THE THINGS THAT WHERE DONE TO THOSE PEOPLE. I BELIVE SMALL COMMUNITIES NEED MORE YOUTH PROGRAMS TO KEEP KIDS OCCUPIED.

  • Mike

    Karen, Crystal and Dean will be free soon enough. As they should be. They had nothing to do with the murders. In fact Jason Bryant was threatening to kill both Crystal and Dean, so can you really fault them for going along? What would you have done?

  • jinia

    this is all brilliant stuff, just brilliant. you should all listen to that green day song, american idiot. one nation controlled by the media…

  • Roman

    Hmmm….quiet around here…

  • Rhys

    Hi, I only found out about this murder case a while back. Being from England you rarely hear about things like this, but as I recall it did make the news.

    Obviously not knowing the persons involved and not having seen SIX I can’t really comment.

    I’m twenty two years and I saw alot of myself in Natasha and Karen ie, alternative dress sense, musical tastes etc. Tbh it’s just a harmless form of expression that most can’t handle because they’re not dressed in clothes like Fubu or Nike.

  • http://turningwinds.blogspot.com/ Hansel @ Turning Winds

    I mostly agree with this article. It’s really the parent’s responsibility to see to it that their children are taught about values at home. It is not wrong to love your child in ways you know how, but always think that giving them everything they need and want does not mean they’ll grow up to be good people. It’s important to set limits in the house where your child would learn about responsibility and respect. It’s not an easy task, but “tough love” might be the only way these kids won’t become troubled teens later on in life.

  • FredinMD

    I’m sorry, but all six of these defendants deserve to be in a cell. I can’t believe that they had no idea about what was going to happen. Seriously, they stole two handguns. Problem is with society is that people want to pity those who choose the dark side. They have a weird almost perverse obsession, trying to justify and make sense of something that you can’t make any sense out of. Teenagers at that age feed off of eachother; I doubt 14 yr old Jason Bryant acted all on his own without encouragement from the others.

  • Roman

    Fredin- Why can’t you believe it? Yes, they took two handguns. Do you know why? And why do you feel that Jason Bryant needed encouragement to do what he did? Do you know his social history? Are you aware that he was on probation and was the only one of them who had a history of violence? How much research have you truly done where you can come up with this conclusion you’ve come up with?

    I’m not trying to ridicule you here. Just want you to try and consider a few things before you draw the conclusion that you have. This is a complex case, one that requires more than just a quick wikipedia perusal (or perusal of the “Six” website). There’s an important backstory to be considered. Read their appeals and their individual accounts of what happened that day. Some truths become very clear when one does their homework on this case.

    Remember that the West Memphis 3 case seemed like a slam dunk guilty verdict too. Until other truths began to leak out :-)