Any time a murder occurs it is shocking and frightening. However, when the person who perpetrates the murder is the person you would least expect, it is even more shocking and scary. It is often hard to imagine that we would have to protect ourselves and our loved ones from the murderous intentions of a child, but there are children out there who are very dangerous. The following are some infamous murders where the murderer or murderers turned out to be shockingly young.
The Murder of Shanda Sharer: Melinda Loveless and Toni Lawrence
Melinda Loveless was sixteen-years-old in 1992, when she instigated and participated in the murder of twelve-year-old Indiana native Shanda Sharer. Melinda was a lesbian who was in a relationship with a younger girl, fourteen-year-old Amanda Heavrin. Amanda Heavrin began a relationship with Shanda while she was still going out with Melinda. When Melinda found out, she was enraged. On Friday, January 10, 1992, Melinda Loveless set out with the intention of harming Shanda, by the end of the night, she and her accomplices, who were still children themselves, had murdered young Shanda.
Melinda Loveless, her friend Laurie Tackett, 17, and her two friends, Hope Rippey, 15, and Toni Lawrence, 15, arrived at Shanda’s residence at around 12:30 a.m. Toni, Laurie and Hope went to the door and convinced her to leave with them, saying that they were going to meet up with Amanda. Shanda reluctantly got in the car, where Melinda was waiting. Once Shanda was in the car and they had been driving for a little bit, Melinda came out from under a blanket she had been hiding under and put a knife to Shanda’s throat. They then took her into the woods where Loveless ordered her out of the car and forced her to take all of her clothes off, except her panties.
At this point, Melinda Loveless began beating little Shanda and then tried to slit her throat. The knife was too dull. Laurie Tackett joined in and both she and Loveless began stabbing Shanda in the chest. The wounds were not deadly, so Tackett decided to strangle her with a length of rope, while Melinda held her down. The girls then put her in the trunk. She still wasn’t dead. What followed was a night of driving around and intermittently beating the girl in the trunk. She was stabbed again by Tackett, who also beat her over the head with a tire iron so brutally that a piece of her skull broke off. Either Melinda Loveless or Laurie Tackett sodomized Shanda with the tire iron as well.
The poor child survived all of this, only to be burnt alive in the woods by the two crazed girls. The other two girls don’t seem to have participated in the beatings and killing of Shanda directly. However, neither of them called for help and they had ample opportunity. One of them also helped carry Shanda to the place where she was burned. Both Loveless and Tackett are currently serving 60-year sentences for Shanda’s murder.
The Frontier Middle School Shooting: Barry Loukaitis
On February 2, 1996, Barry Loukaitis walked into his school in Moses Lake, Washington dressed as an old-time gunslinger. He wore a long coat, underneath which were two pistols and a rifle. When he went into his algebra class, he proceeded to shoot and kill his teacher and two of the children in his class. He also shot a young girl in the arm. He held the class hostage for a matter of minutes before he was stopped by the school coach. He later claimed that he was inspired by the Pearl Jam video for their song “Jeremy.” It has also been speculated that he got the idea from the movie “The Basketball Diaries” and Stephen King’s book “The Rage.” However, the blame squarely falls on Loukaitis. Barry Loukaitis is currently serving two life sentences and then some. As much as he deserves them, it is a little disturbing that he is serving a longer sentence than both Loveless and Tackett combined.
The Murder of Tiffany Eunick: Lionel Tate
Lionel Tate was twelve-years-old in 1999, when his mother began babysitting six-year-old Tiffany Eunick. The two children were watching television when Lionel’s mother decided to go upstairs in her apartment in Pembroke Park, Florida. She was upstairs for at least forty-five minutes, when at about 10:40, Lionel came upstairs to tell her that Tiffany wasn’t breathing. She was unable to be resuscitated. An autopsy showed that Tiffany had suffered a fractured skull, damage to her internal organs and bruising all over her body, with a total of 35 injuries.
Lionel said that he had only been trying out a wrestling hold on her and that she had hit her head. He was sentenced to life without parole for the murder of Tiffany Eunick, a sentence that was later reduced. He was let out of jail when he was seventeen with ten years of parole. He wound up back in jail after committing several acts of robbery and violence.
The Murder of James Bulger: Robert Thompson and Jon Venables
Jon Venables and Robert Thompson (both of them 10-years-old) were playing hooky from school on February 12, 1993. They went to the Bottle Strand Shopping Center near Liverpool, England and began committing petty theft there. At some point the boys decided that they would kidnap a child. Jon later said that it was because Robert wanted to make the child get hit by a car. Robert said that Jon wanted to hit a ‘kid.’ After getting caught trying to grab one little boy, they managed to convince two-year-old James Bulger to leave the mall with them. Security cameras caught the three children leaving the mall at 3:42 p.m. Little James was holding Jon’s hand.
Jon and Robert brought James on an eventful hours long walk that day. They traveled through the streets, in plain view, for nearly two and a half miles. They were seen striking the boy, and it was noticed by several people that James was visibly upset. He was even returned to Robert and Jon when a woman noticed that they had left him at the edge of a local canal. Most of the people said later that they thought Jon and Robert were babysitting, that they didn’t want to get involved or they didn’t know what to do.
At around 5:45 p.m. Jon and Robert had James by a set of railroad tracks. They splashed his face with blue paint, then hit him with stones, bricks and an iron bar. At one point they took off the small child’s shoes and pants. It has been said that inspection of the injuries suggests that the older boys may have sexually assaulted their captive. After they were finished tormenting James Bulger, Jon and Robert laid him on the tracks and weighed his head down with bricks. He was still alive at the time. However, he died before a train came along and severed his tiny body in two.
Jon Venables and Robert Thompson were released less than ten years after the crime was committed. Their names were changed and they were put into a sort of protection program after several people expressed a wish to murder the two young men. They will be watched for the entirety of their lifetimes and they are not allowed to contact each other. That should be easy considering the fact that Jon has already been stuck back in prison under some serious allegations that have yet to be divulged to the public. Rumors of child pornography are currently flooding the internet.
Cases like these often make us cringe at the horror and rail against the injustice of it. Where were these child murderers’ parents? How did no one notice that there was something seriously wrong with these children? What was happening to these children to cause them to turn to this sort of violence? How could something like this happen?
The truth of it is that most of these child murderers did display obvious signs of mental disturbance, but so do many children who never go on to commit atrocities such as these. A few of them were abused both mentally and physically at home as well. However, it is hard to imagine an abusive parent coming forward and saying there is something wrong with their child, so that he or she may get the help they so desperately need. So, who’s going to stop the cycle of abuse? Who would imagine that something like this could happen and notice it in time to stop it? The answer should be “all of us.”