The murder of Reena Virk

Reena Virk (March 10, 1983 – November 14, 1997)

Reena Virk was a fourteen year old teen from Saanich, British Columbia. She would have been turning fifteen on March 10, 1983 but sadly, she never made it.

Reena was originally from India and transferred to Canada as a child. Her immediate family was described as “a minority within a minority,” as they were of the Jehovah’s Witness religion in the local South Asian community of 3,000 which was predominantly Sikh.

She always had a hard time in school, constantly getting bullied due to her accent and looks and because she was ”different,”

On the night of Friday November 14, 1997, Reena was invited to a “party” by her friend near the Craigflower Bridge, a popular hangout spot, west of the city of Victoria, British Columbia. She heard rumors that her bullies were going to go there and ‘beat her up’ but that didn’t stop her from continuing her life. At first everything was fine, Reena was enjoying herself and the group were said to be drinking and smoking. But then, the “Shoreline six” arrived, a group of girls known to bully Reena. They swarmed the teen.

Photo of Craigflower Bridge

(NOTE: The six female perpetrators are referred to in court documents as N.C., N.P., M.G.P., C.A.K., G.O., and K.M.E. N.C. is known to be Nicole Cook and M.G.P is known to be Missy Pleese, though her middle name is still unknown. Both have admitted involvement. Kelly Ellard, the ring-leader, was referred to in some documents as K.M.E. prior to her identification.)

Witnesses who were at the Bridge that night would later say that one of the Shoreline bullies stubbed out cigarettes on Reena’s forehead, while the others stood by and watched, some even laughing.

The ringleader was a teen named Kelly Ellard, a girl who had strongly disliked Reena for reasons unknown.

Reena was then taunted, repeatedly hit, punched and kicked. She was visibly upset and scared but got no sympathy from her attackers who put out several more cigarettes threw-out her body and then yanked her hair and attempted to light it on fire.

This first beating ended when one of the girls stepped up and told the others to stop. This was the only attempt made by all that were there that night, to stop the attack.

Reena attempted to walk away from the group, but was followed by two Kelly Ellard, William Glowatski and an accomplice.

Photo of Kelly Ellard

Warren Glowatski (16)

Ellard Glowatski’s accomplice

The pair dragged Reena to the other side of the bridge, no longer in view of the others. They forced her to remove her shoes and jacket. At this point Reena was sobbing, begging them to stop as she layed on the ground shivering. They ignored her pleas and started punching and kicking her as she tried to shield herself.

Glowatski had no problems with Reena but he decided to join in, kicking Reena twice in the head.

Sometime during the beating, Ellard smashed Reena’s face onto a tree, knocking her unconscious. With the help of Glowatski, Ellard dragged Reena’s body near the water. At this point she was not unconscious and was begging her attackers to stop. She was ignored.

Ellard forced Reena’s head under water at the George Waterway. She was holding Reena’s head down by her foot. Glowatski stood by, watching. Reena struggled, desperately trying to save her own life. Reena’s struggle became weaker until finally she stopped moving.

She was dead.

Despite an alleged pact amongst the people involved to not “rat each other out”, by the following Monday rumors of the alleged murder spread throughout Shoreline Secondary School, where Virk was a student. Several uninvolved students and teachers heard the rumors, but no one came forward to report it to the police. The rumors were confirmed eight days later, on November 22, 1997, when police using a helicopter found Reena’s partially clothed body washed ashore at the George Waterway.

The coroner completed the autopsy and ruled her death was by drowning. However, it was later revealed that she had sustained significant injury, and that the head injuries were severe enough to have killed her if she had not been drowned.

Ellard was sentenced to life in prison after three trails. She still maintains her innocence and shows no sympathy for the crime committed.

Photo of Ellard

Glowatski was sentenced to life in prison but because he was a minor at the time, he had a chance of parole. Reena’s parents didn’t contest his 2004 court hearing, claiming they’ve forgiven him because he showed remorse and owned up to his actions. He was denied however.

Manjit and Suman Virk, the parents of Reena Virk, were devastated with their daughters murder  and at first, they harbored a deep hatred for her attackers. A time when Manjit Virk would have liked nothing more than to wring the neck of Warren Glowatski, one of two teenagers convicted of murdering his daughter, Reena, “as if he were a chicken.”

Photo of Manjit and Suman Virk

But in the fall of 2005, when the two came face to face in a semicircle of chairs in the basement of a church, something very different happened.

“It was the most unusual experience I had encountered in my life,” the Victoria father later recounted in his book, Reena: A Father’s Story.

“My daughter’s killer was shaking hands with me.”

This remarkable act of reconciliation is often cited as an example of the potential of restorative justice – the concept that true healing after a crime doesn’t necessarily come from harsher punishments but rather from the coming together of criminal and victim, giving them a chance to understand one another and work to repair the harm done.

Both of the Virks also spoke at the hearing, telling the panel that healing cannot begin until an offender owns up to their actions.

Suman Virk said that Glowatski’s statement on Wednesday is “huge,” and was tremendously helpful to the couple.

The Virks also said they think the young man is on the right path, and that they supported him getting unescorted absences as he continues to serve his life sentence.

The panel members agreed, noting Glowatski’s positive record while in prison. His next step will be to apply for full day parole.

At the end of the hearing, Glowatski thanked the Virks, giving each of them a hug.

Years after the murder, on the other side of Canada, students had participated in a play titled ”The Holding Room” which was based on Reena Virk’s murder. An online user who was a student at the high-school wrote on a forum:

2 years ago, the drama program at my school wrote and performed a play called The Holding Room based on the murder of Reena Virk. It was originally intended as a competition piece for a school theatre competition but it ended up attracting a lot of attention and resulted in Reena’s parents coming from the other side of the country to see it. Even though I don’t really act anymore, this entire show experience was one of the best of my life.

The Unfavored Child – Sean Michael Sowards

Sean Michael Sowards was born on September 23, 2004 to Crystal Conklin and Michael Sowards of Warren, Michigan, who had been together for 8 years. Baby Sean was Michael and Crystal’s first-born son, they also had a little girl, Angelique “Angel” who was a year older.

In 2003, the girl tested positive for weed in her system, DHS provided services to the family.

In 2005 DHS received a report that Crystal was beating on Sean, they said she would wake the baby up just to beat on him. DHS was told “She doesn’t want him and only kept him because the father wanted him,”

Elizabeth Herd, Sean’s paternal grandma also called DHS;

“My concerns were Sean was being injured in his home,” she said. “I told them my 4-month-old grandson was being spanked by his mother because he wouldn’t stop crying.” She said she was told that “unless he is seriously injured or dead, they would not investigate.” and “They said parents have a right to discipline their children, and it was none of my business,” she said.

In 2006 Elizabeth was told by Crystal that her grandson had an eye infection, it was after this that she was kept away from Sean. Elizabeth also reported that she saw bruises and cuts on Sean but was always told that Angel did it.

Sean Michael and Angel Sowards

Sean Michael Sowards and sister

Michael came home from work on the evening of June 11, 2007 and saw his son in desperate need of medical attention. Sean was laying in bed unconscious in his own vomit. He picked his son up and rushed him to the emergency room at St. John Oakland General Hospital where it was learned that he had extensive head and brain trauma among many other injuries that were new and old.

When Sean arrived at the hospital he was unresponsive, covered in bruises and cuts from head-to-toe, he had a cut on his forehead that should have received stitches but was already healing, his toenails on his big toes were torn away, replaced with blood, he was essentially blind from from his eyes being burnt from most likely nail polish remover being poured on them, he had a broken finger, bite-marks and was underweight.

Sean was then transferred to St. John Hospital in Detroit for emergency surgery. Although the doctors did a heroic job and worked on baby Sean in surgery to relieve the fluid on his brain he still died 2 days later on June 13th. It was at this point his tragic nightmare-ish life story began to unfold in the news.

Crystal and Michael both were arrested on the 13th. On the 14th, after investigators spoke with Macomb County Prosecutor’s Office they released Michael from jail. Crystal was charged with felony murder and child abuse.

The couples 3-year-old daughter Angel was placed into the custody of Macomb County Child Protective Services. She was never abused, Sean was the only target of his mothers hatred.

Crystal was 7 ½ months pregnant and complained of labor pains so she was taken to the hospital. She returned to her cell as soon as they discovered there was nothing wrong with her.

During Crystal’s arraignment she cried uncontrollably and Judge Walter Jakubowcski Jr. told her he wasn’t impressed with her theatrics and said she was a danger to all children and he hoped God would save her soul before setting her bond at $500,000 cash.

Crystal and Michael told Krystal Magnan, a DHS worker;

” that he (Sean) was clumsy and he would bump into walls a lot, and (his sister) was physically aggressive toward him. She also said DHS investigated 2 complaints but they were not serious and were closed. “She didn’t really give me answers,” Magnan said. “She piggy-backed on what the dad said, what Mr. Sowards said.”

These excuses would be used many times by Crystal when talking about Sean’s injuries.

On April 18th Dr. Marcus DeGraw of St. John Hospital in Detroit testified against Crystal saying that;

“There was a repetitive infliction of pain for discipline, almost a torture scenario,” “He was abused … repetitively throughout his existence.”

Dr. Degraw treated Sean in the hospital and said he died of blunt force trauma to the head, a single blow “causing immediate symptoms.” He said the type of injury Sean had is what you would see in a high speed accident or falling from a window several floors high.

He said that Sean was undernourished and half the weight a child should be at for his age. During his testimony he said;

“To me, it was neglect, a restriction of food,” DeGraw said. “You would have to work extremely hard to make a child not gain weight like that.” You can feed a child 5 meals a week and he will still gain weight.”

Forensic nurse, Marnie Van Dam said in court that Sean had over 3 dozen bruises from head-to-toe and was covered in cuts and abrasions. His big toe toenails were ripped off, Sean’s eyelids were red and swollen and his corneas were cloudy. His bruises were in various stages of healing, proving that his abuse was recurring.

Macomb County Medical Examiner Daniel Spitz agreed that Sean died of non-accidental blunt-force trauma to the head.

Assistant Macomb prosecutor Therese Tobin told reporters”He was battered head to toe,” “He was basically blind” from being shaking or hit on the head.

Photos of Sean’s battered and beaten little body were shown to jurors, pictures of his bed room were also included. There was blood covering the closet walls, the door, his sheets and the carpets. There was also blood on his clothes on the utility room floor and in the washer were more clothes with blood and the stench of vomit according to Officer Marlene Niedermeier.

Mathew Conklin, Crystal’s uncle testified that she treated Angel a lot different than Sean. He said he once warned her about it when Sean tried to climb up in her lap saying “Mommy, mommy” and she grabbed him by his forehead and pushed him back forcefully. Mathew said the boy hit his head hard enough it bounced off of the coffee table “like a ball.”

He said when Sean started crying;

“Angel looked at me and started screaming. She (Crystal Conklin) put her attention to Angel. She picked up Angel and said, ‘Poor Angel.’” “Angel got all the positive attention and positive interaction,” he said. “It seemed Sean was always dished off to the side.”

Mathew stated that Crystal and Michael stayed with him for weeks at a time due to their financial situation.

He also said while being sworn in and questioned by Prosecutor Therese Tobin that he believed Sean had not developed correctly for his age because of how he was treated by his mother. Crystal complained frequently that the baby cried all the time and never slept through the night.

“She was very upset at his crying,” he said. “She once said that something was wrong with him and then said she thought he was doing it on purpose.”

Mathew also testified that “Sean’s face was always covered with blankets” and she tried to keep him in his playpen down in the dark, wet basement or out in the garage so she didn’t have to deal with him.

Mathew also saw bruises and cuts on the boy but was given the same excuse as everyone else.

When Mathew was cross-examined by defense attorney Ronald Goldstein he said his niece did come to his home while Sean was in the hospital and she was upset and nervous. She told him that Sean had a seizure.

When Michael Sowards’ initially took the stand he said that he had not seen his girlfriend hit their son. He retorted and later testified that he did see her hit him. He said the reason he lied in the beginning was;

“at the time I couldn’t believe she could do that to my son. I didn’t believe what was happening. It was a nightmare. I didn’t think someone who I cared about so much could do that to my son. I believed she was excessive at times, but I didn’t believe she was capable.”

Michael also acknowledged his role by saying he didn’t do enough to stop the abuse of his son.

Cpl. Chad Richardson also testified and said that he interviewed Crystal twice. She told him that Sean vomited and she put him in his bed. She checked on him later and said “Seany, Seany” and he would not wake up. That was when she noticed that he had vomited a couple more times.

In the 2nd interview she said her and Sean were in the bathroom and he “slipped and fell, and she couldn’t catch him in time,” but that she never laid a hand on the child other than for discipline. Cpl. Richardson told the court “She said he was acting like a ping pong ball bouncing against the walls in the hallway,”

“We had her in custody for seven hours and she did not ask once about her son,”

Michael at Sean's funeral

Michael at Sean’s funeral

Kathleen Conklin said she visited her sister the weekend before Sean’s death and his legs were both in one pants leg to restrict him from moving. It was normal for Crystal to wrap him in 2 blankets and either put him in a car seat or high chair so he wasn’t able to move around. She said she didn’t feel like her sister loved Sean “there was always so much anger towards him.”

When the prosecutor asked Kathleen how she thought her sister, Crystal felt about Angel she said, “She loved Angel. Angel was allowed to be a kid. She allowed her to play.”

Crystal suddenly had her own version of the story that Michael was the one that abused and murdered Sean except she had not mentioned one word about it until she took the stand that very day.

Attorney Tobin said in closing arguments;

“Michael Sowards failed his son. He admitted that to you,” Tobin told the jury. “He will answer for that later.” She also asked the jurors to consider both testimonies, Michael’s and Crystal’s.

Sean's marker

Sean’s marker

“Sean’s last week was spent almost blind. He would put his hand over his eye for some comfort, for some assistance. He was a 2-year-old walking around the house. He was trying to find his own way with this own hands,” Tobin said. “If your child couldn’t see, do you let him feel his way around the house or do you get him in a car, or get him in an ambulance and get him to a doctor? The reason [Conklin] didn’t is the dirty little secret. Sean was abused.”

“For some reason, Crystal Conklin did not treat her son the way she treated her daughter. Why is that? I don’t know,” Tobin said. “What we know are the ramifications of those feelings. What we know is that there was a bruised and battered Sean for whatever reason”

Michael cried through much of the court proceedings and said “The only thing that matters, is justice for my son,”

Crystal Conklin was found guilty of first degree murder and sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. She was also given 9-15 years for the first degree child abuse charge and it will run concurrently.

On July 10th Michael Sean Sowards was sentenced to 9 months in jail and five years probation for second degree child abuse for failing to be aware of, stop or report the abuse.

Michael read the following letter in court;

Your Honor, Mrs. Tobin,

Everyone has regrets and choices in their life that they wish they could change or do over, do differently. I know I do! I just want to say, I love my children! I love them with all my heart! They were the most precious gift in my life and anyone who knows me knows how much I loved them. I made extremely bad decisions. I stayed in a very bad relationship in the hope that I could fix things, I could make everyone happy, or make everything ok as long as I never gave up trying. My judgment, my entire thinking process was clouded by years of verbal, mental, physical abuse and manipulation by a very ill woman. But never in my worst nightmares did I even think that all of this could ever happen. Like the saying, “Hind site is always 20/20″. Now that I have had time to reflect and have been away from Crystal for some time. I realize now more than ever how beat down mentally I was. But I kept thinking to myself, I had a baby on the way, plus Angel and Sean and all I wanted was for us to be a family. And the harder I tried the worse Crystal would be. Of course I wish I had left her, but she made that almost impossible. Your honor I failed my son, my children. But I always loved them and I never hurt them. I tried my best with what I knew and what I thought at the time was possible. But always that wasn’t enough. Losing my son, my daughter, my babies has crushed me! I can’t imagine any kind of pain worse than that of losing your children. I would give my life in a heartbeat for the chance to change things, to leave Crystal and protect my son. That’s my regret.

He has also given up parental rights to Angelique and Brianna so that they may have a better life.

Sean's family is very active in child abuse awareness and activism.

Sean’s family is very active in child abuse awareness and activism.

Crystal’s whole defense was that she was a “battered woman” that was scared to death of her boyfriend Michael. She attempted to blame Michael for Sean’s murder and abuse and said that she could not tell or Michael would retaliate on her.

Crystal lied from the moment she was arrested and she is probably lying as you are reading this article. She changed her story so many times and had absolutely no evidence to back up her story. Her own family knew she was rotten and once they were sworn in they had no choice but to tell the truth about how despicable she was because they didn’t want to be held in contempt.

Crystal even tried to blame her son’s death on her own child, Angel. Can you imagine the damage that would do to a child if she were to ever find out that her own mother blamed her for that.

In what scenario is it ever ok to spank a 4-month-old for crying? I don’t understand what reasoning DHS used when they said there was no reason to investigate the claim of abuse because “parents have a right to discipline their children” Elizabeth Herd, Sean’s grandmother said there were 10-12 complaints filed with DHS that went unnoticed.

As mentioned before Crystal attempted to claim the “battered partner syndrome” however no one believed her. In fact, it was believed that Michael was actually physically, mentally and emotionally abused by Crystal and perhaps was to weak to leave Crystal and protect his son from her.

This in no way excuses the fact that Michael had the responsibility to protect his son from being abused. He was the adult and Sean was the helpless child.

With that being said, there are not nearly enough resources for men that are abused. Men are supposed to be strong, be the protectors and the head of the household. Main stream society doesn’t accept weakness’s in men. It’s estimated that out of 100 domestic violence situations 40 of those involve men as the victim. It’s said that even those numbers may be a lot higher because a lot of men won’t come forward because of the stigma attached.

It’s hard to get women to report abuse even after all the programs that are offered, when is the last time you saw a commercial for a men’s shelter or abuse hotline for DV? If you see a man with a bruised face what’s your first reaction? I think it’s pretty obvious we have a lot of work to do in this area.

Please visit Seans Voice at http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001033050337

Elizabeth and Danny Herd are very active in their community and work to prevent child abuse. Thank you for making a difference in so many children’s lives. Through you, Sean’s memory will always live on.

 God Bless You Sean Sowards is a website created in memory of Sean Michael Sowards

Source: Unforgottenangels

Mother who called herself a ”monster” in court is sentenced to 99 years for beating her daughter into coma and gluing the tot’s hands to the wall.

On the day of the attack Escalona changed her Facebook profile photo to one of her and Jocelyn and wrote: 'Why does God put obstacles in my life?'

Elizabeth Escalona (left) was sentenced to 99 years for the brutal beating of her toddler daughter (right.)

10/12/12 Dallas, TX →After 5-days of gruelling testimony, Texas mother, Elizabeth Escalona, 23, sat tearfully in court today as she was sentenced by Judge Larry Mitchell to serve 99 years in prison for the savage torture-beating of her two-year old child.

”You savagely beat your daughter to the edge of death,” said the Judge.

In 2011, Elizabeth became so frustrated with her daughter (who isn’t being named due to legal reasons) during potty-training that she glued the child’s hands to the wall and brutally beat her.

Two of Escalona’s other children revealed in court today that their mother kicked their little sister in her stomach and hit her with a milk-jug before gluing her hands to a wall. She also dragged her (although uncertain if she was dragged by the hair.) Some skin had been torn off her little hands. She was hospitalized and in a coma.

Prosecutor Eren Price showed Escalona photo’s of her child’s injuries and asked her if she was a monster. ”A monster did this.” Escalona shook her head and replied a tearful ”Yes.”

Bruises: She hit the girl with enormous objects, including a jug, before dragging her across the floor

Photo’s showed bruises and marks all around the childs little body were also shown in court.

Painful: Other photos shown to the court reveal the bruises along Jocelyn's back after the attack

She hit her with large items including a jug and dragged her across the floor.

Torture: Photographs shown in the court depict Jocelyn's bleeding hands after they were glued to the wall

Photo’s of the toddlers bloody hands after they were glued to a wall were shown in court by prosecutors.

The words shown on an overhead display were written by prosecutor Eren Price, (left) and were shown in court as an emotional Elizabeth Escalona, 23, responds to a line of questioning in court yesterdayLIAR: words shown on an overhead display were written by prosecutor Eren Price,  (left) and were shown in the Dallas County Courtroom as Escalona responded to multiple questions in Yesterdays court-proceedings.

Escalona pleaded with Judge Mitchell for leniency, blaming her ‘black-out’ on childhood sexual-abuse and saying she did not remember the incident that unfolded last year. She said she didn’t remember where she got the glue or why she glued her toddler’s hands to the wall nor did she remember dragging her daughter, throwing things at her or kicking her in the stomach. Overall, she claimed she didn’t remember beating the poor girl into a coma because she wouldn’t potty-train correctly/quickly. Escalona continued to put on the ”water-works” but Price wasn’t buying it and showed her no mercy calling her a ”liar.”

Cross-examination by the prosecutors pointed out that Escalona was a consistently abusive mother who did drugs and beat her children. Proving she lied once again. They also showed she lied when Price was calling her a monter, Escalona was agreeing, calling herself a monter, contradicting her earlier statements of not ”remembering.” ”I hit her, I kicked her constantly, and she  didn’t deserve that,’  said Escalona. ”Only a monster does  that.”

Judge Mitchell, while agreeing that Escalona may have been sexually abused growing up, that it is no excuse for abuse and Judge Mitchell said the simple fact remained, the vicious assault on your child.

‘You savagely beat your child to the edge of  death,’ he said.

Escalona was sentenced to ninety years in prison and must serve at-least thirty to consider parole. Her loved ones cried out, some hanging their heads down in grief and disbelief. The mother of three surprisingly, showed very little emotion considering her theatrics threw-out the trail.

Her children are now in custody of the state and will hopefully get past the trauma they endured and grow up to be everything Elizabeth Escalona is NOT.

Malaysian Mother Caught On Camera ABUSING Her BABY

Malaysia: A disturbing 4-minute home video shows Ira beating, kicking, pinching, and throwing objects at the defenseless 8 month old baby.

Another woman (friend?) is recording everything and is heard more than once telling the mother of the child to ”stop”, at one firmly saying ”You are going to kill your baby”, but does nothing to stop the abuse.

A Killer Among Friends – The Murder Of Missy Avila

misty_avilaMissy Avila (pictured) was a seventeen year old teenager who was cruelly murdered on October 2, 1985 by her two ‘best friends’ over jealousy and rumors that she had hooked up with their boyfriends.

Michele “Missy” Avila was born in Southern California on February 8, 1968 and attended San Fernando Highschool. She lived with her mother Irene Avila, who was divorced and her three brothers Ernie, Chris and Mark in a quiet, middle-class neighborhood in Arleta, California. Not too far from Los Angeles.

When Missy was eight a new girl, Karen Severson, moved into a house around the corner. Karen was described as an overweight, shy child. They soon become best friends and spend everyday together riding bikes, sharing secrets, having sleepovers, etc.Karen was a regular at the Avila home and was very comfortable around Irene, who considered Karen family.

Laura Doyle was also born and raised in the same neighborhood and was also considered a best friend to both girls.

missy-siblings

Family photo of Missy along with her three brothers

The early 80’s came along and the three girls moved out of middle school and entered High School. Their interests have moved far beyond little dolls. They dress like their peers, rock and headband to the Scorpions and Motley Crue and had a deep interest in boys, looks and acceptance.

Missy blossomed into a social butterfly and was considered pretty among her peers. She was stylish outgoing and had a great personality. Your typical teenager who enjoyed going out on the weekends and having friends over her place to swim in her pool or just hanging out cooking on the grill. Irene Avila was a laid-back parent who accepted all of Missy’s friends so they enjoyed being there.

Karen was what you would call the complete opposite of Missy. Instead of blossoming she blew up. An obese, insecure teen with little confidence she craved the attention that Missy received. She would notice boys flirting with Missy and not her which grew on her already weak self-esteem.

Almost every female has experienced jealousy of some sort but for Karen this went beyond the typical green monster. — She came from a family who didn’t set rules or boundaries. She never had a curfew, never got grounded, never had any of those dreaded but much-needed teenage lectures and thus became a teen mom before even reaching adulthood. Many believe that her upbringing along with her self-image and need for attention and acceptance is what molded her into what she eventually became. A killer.

karen_severson

laura_doyle

Photo of Karen (far left) and Laura (right) taken in court a couple of years after Missy’s murder

Laura Doyle, then 18, was described as tall, lanky, and promiscuous. Many say she looked decent when she applied makeup but she seldom did and was somewhat of a Tomboy. She was also a drug user who regularly skipped school and hung out with the wrong crowd. Everytime Missy hung out with Laura she would find herself surrounded by a drug using crowd. You know, the ones who failed school or dropped out — that crowd.

Laura and Karen had many things in common including their lack of loyalty towards Missy. When the two came together their feelings for Missy became noticeably toxic. They would call her names behind her back like slut and whore due to her harmlessly flirting with male peers. They even start rumors in an attempt to make her look bad.  However, when Missy came around they would hide it.

“Missy made great lasagna, dreamed of becoming a physical therapist, and was fiercely loyal to her childhood friends” says Irene Avila as she reminisces about her daughter.

An anonymous online user who attended San Fernando High School and knew Karen and Missy had shared her own opinion;

“Missy wasn’t the sweet innocent angel she was portrayed to be, which she definitely WAS NOT. I grew up with Missy and I knew Karen in school as well. I never met Laura, but the few times I saw her with Missy and Karen, she gave me the creeps. As for Missy, she was one of the meanest people I ever knew. She was the worst bully I ever encountered as a child and I never saw any other side to her. She was just as awful as the friends that killed her. There were a lot of people who couldn’t stand her.”

One time Missy and Karen were window shopping at the local mall when Karen suddenly snuck lingerie into Missy’s purse. They were both caught and detained by security guards and when Irene picked up Missy she was upset and grounded her. She also started double thinking Missy’s relationship with Karen but knowing teenagers make mistakes, and knowing the two girls have been apart of each others life since young children, she dropped the issue. Meanwhile Karen’s parents failed to care so unlike Missy, Karen didn’t learn any lessons aside from being extra sneaky next time.

IRENE AVILA

Photo of Irene Avila years after Missy’s death

Life went on and so did the friendships between the three girls but the jealousy Karen felt towards Missy was turning to bitter resentment as she continued to get ignored and pick on by boys. Somehow she rationalized it in her mind that Missy was to blame.

Timeline

Missy briefly dates Victor Amaya, a teen who attended a local Catholic School and sported a tattoo of a leaf with the inscription “stoner” across it. Their relationship was sexual but didn’t last. They break up and soon after Victor starts a relationship with Laura. Missy isn’t upset or at least she appears to be ok with it.

Several weeks before the murder — Laura’s insecurity and jealousy rubs Victor the wrong way. She appears to clingy, he breaks up with her and she is left devastated and believes another girl must be the reason why he broke it off. She continues to attempt a reconcile to no avail. She periodically calls him and drives by his house, not yet ready to give up and move on.

“I broke off the relationship because she (Laura) was jealous of me talking to other girls, including Missy. Laura refused to accept the breakup and became bitter.”  Victor would later say.

Laura’s hatred for Missy sparked when she drives by Victor’s house one day and spots him and Missy together holding hands and kissing  at the end of his driveway. She is enraged and speeds up to them and pulls down her window to let them know that they were caught and how much of a “slut” she (Missy) was. At this point she most likely assumes that Victor still cares for her and will apologize and deny his feelings for Missy. Instead, Victor tells her to “go away” and continues to hold onto Missy.

Victor would later say that when Laura went to leave she muttered “I’m going to kill that bitch”. The threat was not taken seriously at the time.

“We (he and Missy) argued with Laura at my house in Arleta. Me, my brother Noah and Missy had been standing in front  of the house when Laura drove up. Laura wanted to know  “Why is Missy here?” and I ordered Laura to leave. Before she drove away she said “I’m going to kill that bitch!” I didn’t take the threat seriously and I never reported it  to police.”

Missy, now fighting with Laura, also drifts away from Karen. Meanwhile, Karen and Laura start hanging out together much more and why wouldn’t they? They had many things in common including a hatred for Missy and were able to release their frustrations to one another.

In an attempt to make Missy look bad Karen starts spreading lies around school and telling a group of girls that Missy had slept with their boyfriends. The angry girls stalk out Missy and confront her, screaming at her and then jumping her.

After the incident a student approaches Missy and tells her “Karen’s the one spreading the rumor about you.”

Missy was so mad at the girl for telling her it was Karen’s fault. Missy “knew” Karen would never do anything like that.” Irene Avila would later say.

But while Missy was ignoring the warning signs, Karen was doing everything in her power to make Missy look bad in the eyes of others, mainly boys. Everytime a boy flirted with Missy while sarcastically teasing or ignoring Karen, she would resent and despise her even more. Somehow everything was Missy fault.

Colby Canyon is a campground 45 minutes from Arleta which is also known as Wicky Up.  Local teens regularly go there to hang out and party and the three girls are quite familiar with the place.

In Junior year Missy and a boy named Randi Fernandez are dating but Randi likes to party too much for Missy’s liking so she breaks it off one month into the relationship. Shortly after Randi and Karen begin a relationship and move into an apartment together. Karen becomes pregnant and has an abortion. Karen will later give birth to another child which she names Stephanie, the same name of her sister.

Karen doesn’t trust Randi around girls especially Missy and according to Irene, Missy once told her of an afternoon while she was over Karen’s apartment. She and Missy were in her room when Karen asked her to grab her baby’s bottle in the kitchen. When Missy walked by Randy he pulled her onto his lap without warning, and when she attempted to get up Karen walked in and became enraged at her and told her to leave. Missy tried giving an explanation but Karen wouldn’t hear it.

September 1985 — Eva Chirumbolo, 17, moves in with Karen. Laura is employed at a bakery shop.

September 21, 1985 – 12 days prior the murder — Karen spots Missy at a local park in Arleta and attacks her with a beer bottle, slaps and pushes her before friends break up the fight. During this time Karen and Laura, fed up, get together and formulated a plot to get rid of Missy once and for all.

Several days before the murder – Karen and Laura pretend to apologize to Missy. She is excited that her two best friends are back in her life and her excitement is easily noticeable by her mother.

Karen has a phony talk with her and tells her of issues between Randi and herself. Missy suggests she break up with Randi, that he is a player and she would be better off without him. Karen was really upset because the guy she wanted didn’t want her.

By this time, Karen’s jealousy and resentment for Missy is at an all time high. She has already planned Missy’s fate unbeknownst to her, but puts on a phony smile and pretends everything is okay.

The afternoon of October 1, 1985 Laura and Karen prepare to put their plan into action. 

Laura calls Missy and asks if she wants to hang out and go to Stonehurst Park and talk. Missy excitedly agrees and tells her mom of her plans, saying; “I’m going out with Laura, we’re going to Stonehurst Park. Promise to be home by 8PM”  — As she’s leaving she turns to her mother and says “I love you”, which put a smile on Irene’s face.

 “When Laura got to the house, the girls were laughing and talking about boys. As they drove off they seemed very carefree. I remember how especially pretty Missy looked that day. She was all excited to go. She even turned to me and said “I love you” which is something she did not ordinarily do. That scene haunts me even today.”

michele_avila

Eva Chirumbolo accompanies Karen Severson on the ride to Stonehurst Park in Sun Valley and is completely unaware of what is about to transpire.

“Karen said that she and Laura “planned to scare Avila.” “I didn’t know what they had planned. I didn’t know how far this was going to go.” Eva would later say at Laura and Karen’s trail.

They meet up with Laura and Missy and follow each other in separate vehicles up to Stonehurst Park.

On the way up to the Park Missy is chatting with Laura, completely unaware of what her two best friends had in store for her. Laura is eerily calm and portrays no sign that would signal a red flag.

The girls decide they’re going to the National Forest. It’s unknown if this was part of the plan or if Karen and Laura figured at that point that the National Forest would be more isolating.

Karen and Eva followed Laura’s car to the isolated forest.

When they reach the Forest they park in a dirt lot near a wooded area which is located near the creek in Colby Canyon. Laura and Karen get out of their vehicles and begin to yell at Missy, who is still sitting in the passengers side of Laura’s car.

Missy begins crying and the girls force her out of the car and begin to get physical by pushing and shoving her, calling her names and accusing her of sleeping with their boyfriends.

Eva, who has been sitting in the car watching from a short distance, decides to get out of the vehicle. By this point the confrontation is getting increasingly intense. Missy, who just moments ago was laughing and listening to music with who she thought were her best friends, is now fearful of them. She has no one to help, nowhere to run and is quickly realizing the dire situation she has naively gotten herself into.

Laura grabs her by the wrist and pulls her, coldly telling her “let’s go for a walk”. Missy who is still crying, hesitates before Karen comes up and pushes her towards the wooded area.

All four of us walked down an embankment to the creek. Laura and Karen continued screaming at Missy.”  says Eva.

Laura yanks Missy by her hair and once again she accuses her of sleeping with Victor. She steps beside the creek and pushes Missy towards Karen who in return shoves her to the ground, making her lose control of her purse which has fallen into the muddy, wet area.

Missy is frantic and begins to beg for forgiveness. Most likely she thought that up until they dragged her to the creek, that they were just going to beat her up and leave her there. Now she is certain that they have other intentions and plead frantically to them but her cries fall on deaf ears and Eva who is terrified starts running back to the car. Midway she hears Missy scream for her to help but she was helpless and feared for her own life. She and Missy were both petite unlike Karen who was obese and intimidating, and Laura who was tall and aggressive. She was in a panic and feared that any attempts to stop the raged pair would backfire on her.

 “I was scared so I ran back to where the cars were parked.”  says Eva.

Karen and Laura continued to beat and batter Missy, mainly focusing on her face. The beating is so severe that one of her earrings ends up pulled out of her ear and is entangled into her long brown hair.

One of them has something…perhaps a knife, a rock, and hacks at her beautiful brown hair. Clumps fall to the ground. Psychological experts say this is an attempt to dehumanize a victim. Something that is done is many cases. It could also be an attempt to make a pretty Missy look different, perhaps not attractive.

Laura Doyle is shouting “You’re going to pay for what you’ve done!  You’re going to pay for sleeping with our boyfriends!”

They begin to carry Missy who weighs a mere 98 pounds. Laura carries her feet while Karen carries her by the arms, which are bent at the elbow and behind her back.

Michele Avila is struggling and trying with all her might to get away. Most can say that by this point she knew her fate.

The two carried her to shallow water which is approximately 8 inches deep and forcefully hold her head under water. She struggles for several minutes then stops. They continue to hold her head under water for several more minutes and then spot a 4-foot, 100 pound log and carry it over and place it on her head/neck area.

Michele Yvette Avila is dead.

August 1988 - Michele "Missy" Avila  Daily News file photo

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Childhood photo of Missy

Karen Severson and Laura Doyle calmly walked back to their cars and speed off. Missy’s body lies flat and still in the ankle-deep water, face down. The same position she was held down in. One foot lies placed over the other and her gold anklet reflects the afternoon sunlight. One arm is bent back behind her at the elbow.

Eva is scared during the car ride back to Arleta, asking Laura “what happened, where’s Missy?” — She is told that she was drowned and although both Laura and Karen appeared speedy and jittery after the murder, they showed zero remorse for their actions.

A few minutes later, Karen and Laura joined me. Karen Severson jumped into her car and drove away. When I got into the car with Laura, she said “We killed Missy.”  “I asked Laura “are you sure she’s dead?”   Laura said “she is.” Then she said ” Missy deserved to die because she slept with Victor (Amaya).”

Missy fails to return home by 8PM and her mother calls Karen who has a supposed alibi.  The police are called the next morning. Three days later hikers make the grisly discovery after stopping by the creek. At first they discovered a piece of clothing which turned out to be Missy’s sock which came off during the struggle. They looked up and from a distance noticed her decomposing body and ran off to alert police.

Irene Avila is devastated of her daughter’s death and spends many months looking for her killer. Laura sends Irene a get well letter with a $20 bill inside. Karen played the grieving friend and even moved in the Avila home. The two would stalk out possible ‘suspects’. Karen became strangely obsessed with taken over Missy’s life and even used her make up and clothes. Irene kept Missy’s room untouched and fell into a deep depression. It would take six months before justice was sought and Irene Avila fainted when she realized that her daughters killer was none other than her two best friends. The same friend who moved in after her death. She was sick and sought a therapist after the ordeal.

August 1988 - Left, Ryan Avila with his mother Irene.  Daily News file photo
Photo of Irene Avila and Missy’s oldest brother

IRENE AVILA

Photo of Irene Avila holding up a photo of Missy – This photo was taken years after her death

Missy’s murder remained unsolved for six months until one day Eva Chirumbolo’s brother commits suicide and she falls into depression and realized what Irene Avila went threw when she lost Michele.

Laura and Karen were arrested, convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment however, both have since been paroled and are out walking the streets today.

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Photo of Karen Severson during her trail (I believe this was a later trail, possibly a parole hearing and not the trail that convicted her.)

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Laura Doyle prison photo which was posted on a prison pen-pal websites. It appears that these girls are STILL seeking out boys and attention years on as they sit in prison. Creeps!

Irene Avila had a really bad feeling just before her teenage daughter Missy was found battered and drowned in a Big Tujunga Canyon stream. And the Lake Balboa mother felt pangs of dread before learning Karen Severson — her daughter’s killer and childhood friend — was released on parole in the Summer of 2011. Her dread deepened in December 2012 when her slained daughters second killer, Laura Doyle, was released as well.  Both woman now grown adult are walking among us, free to do as they please.