Case Summary: The Murder Of Jessica Lundsford

1427 words - 6 pages

On February 23, 2005 a nine-year old girl in Homosassa, Florida disappeared after attending a Wednesday evening church service. She was missing for almost 3 weeks before police found her body in a trash bag, holding a purple stuffed dolphin, in a grave no more than 3 feet deep. Publicly released autopsy reports said that the little girl, Jessica Lunsford, who dreamed of being a fashion designer and Olympic swimmer, had managed to tear two fingers through the garbage bag before suffocating to death.Reports say that a neighbor, 46-year-old John Couey (who was drug hazed) broke into the family's unsecured mobile home at 3am and kidnapped Jessica, covering her mouth and telling her to keep quiet. He held her captive for more than a day and during this time she was the victim of sexual molestation and rape. She was told to stay in the closet while he went to work and did other activities. Although there is no substantial evidence to prove how long she was captive, it's very possible it was as long as three days. On the last day, Couey tied Jessica up with stereo wire, forced her into trash bags and buried her alive in his half-sister's backyard, visible from Jessica's house, only 150 yards away.Couey's criminal record spans for more than 30 years and 24 arrests, including DUI, burglary, larceny, fraud, drug charges, and fondling a child under 16 (making him a sex offender in the state of Florida). Although he was a registered sex offender in Citrus County, he had not yet registered his new address, where he lived across the street from Jessica. He was sentenced to 10 years in prison, but he was paroled in 1980 because of prison overcrowding.Couey's niece, Madie Secord, testified to purchasing a bus ticket in her name to Savannah, Ga., at her uncle's request after Jessica went missing. Upon burying Jessica Lunsford alive, Couey fled to Georgia in hopes of avoiding discovery and criminal charges. He was arrested in Augusta for violating probation charges (crossing state lines without informing authorities). Couey was one of the registered sex offenders police tried to find after Jessica's disappearance. After being taken into custody, he confessed to the charges after a FBI administered polygraph test. However, because the officer's denied him his Miranda rights, the confession was not admissible into court. He was charged with capital murder, burglary with battery, kidnapping and sexual battery on a child less than 12 years of age, but he pleaded not guilty.The residents of Couey's half sisters house were interviewed twice regarding questioning on the whereabouts of Couey. They were informed that he had violated his probation by not reporting his new address. It is possible that Jessica was still alive in the house while these interviews occurred. However, his family claimed to not know his whereabouts. They were taken into custody as well.In order to have a more impartial jury, the trial was moved to Miami. Besides Couey's confession (which was not...

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