Murdered Girl's Parents Ask For Mercy - (CLEARFIELD) -- Jessica Holtmeyer has the parents of the girl she killed to thank for not receiving the death penalty. Shortly after a jury found Holtmeyer guilty of first-degree murder in the brutal killing of 15-year old Kimberly Jo Dotts, the dead girl's mother and father asked the judge not to seek capital punishment. Rick Dotts, the father, said, ``I believe everybody deserves a second chance.'' Teen-age witnesses said Holtmeyer helped hang the girl with a clothes line, then beat her face repeatedly with a rock for fear she would divulge a plan by several girls to run away to Florida. Holtmeyer awaits her sentence in the Clearfield County Jail.
Trial Begins in Teen Lynching By DAVID KINNEY Associated Press Writer CLEARFIELD, Pa. (AP) - A teen-ager accused of lynching a learning-disabled girl who was hoping to make friends went on trial Monday, claiming she was wrongly accused by others who made deals to save themselves from prison. Jessica Holtmeyer, 16, faces the death penalty if convicted in the killing of 15-year-old Kimberly Dotts, who was hanged in some woods in front of several teens before her head was smashed with a rock the size of a basketball. Four teen-agers and a 24-year-old woman pleaded guilty to lesser charges and are expected to testify against Ms. Holtmeyer, who along with Aaron Straw, 18, faces a charge of murder. Straw is to be tried separately. Prosecutors say Ms. Holtmeyer wanted Kimberly dead because she was worried the girl would tell others about her plans to run away from Clearfield, a working-class coal and lumber town of 7,500 about 125 miles northeast of Pittsburgh. But the defense said Ms. Holtmeyer is a victim. ``Police jumped to the conclusion that Jessica Holtmeyer committed this crime,'' lawyer Bryan S. Walk said. ``All they had were a couple of statements from a couple of people who turned out to be liars.'' Kimberly was hoping to make friends when she was invited to sleep over at one of the teen's homes in May. But the next day she found herself in the woods with a group of kids she barely knew who were planning to run away to Florida that night. Someone complained that Kimberly - short, overweight and learning-disabled - might ``snitch'' on them. A noose was pulled over her head, the other end slung over a maple branch, and Ms. Holtmeyer and Straw then yanked on the rope with all their strength, prosecutors said. Kimberly's body shook and convulsed, then went limp. On the ground, as she gasped for breath, prosecutors said, Ms. Holtmeyer smashed her face with a rock. The first witness was Straw, who agreed to testify in return for not having to face the death penalty. Straw said he wanted to scare Kimberly and admitted helping Ms. Holtmeyer, his then-girlfriend, hang the girl twice. ``Why did you do it a second time?'' Walk asked. ``To scare Kim even more,'' Straw answered. Prosecutor Paul Cherry told jurors in his opening statement that Kimberly was a quiet girl who was just beginning to reach out socially when she fell in with the loosely knit group of teens who called themselves the Runaway Gang. All but Ms. Holtmeyer headed for Lakeland, Fla., that night. Searchers looking for the missing girl found the body nine days later. Cherry asked Straw about Ms. Holtmeyer's demeanor the day of the killing. ``Weird,'' he said. ``It was like a side of her I didn't see before. Like she didn't care about nothing.''
Teen Murder Trial Begins - (CLEARFIELD) -- The trial of sixteen-year-old Jessica Holtmeyer is under way in Clearfield County. The teenager is accused of helping to kill 15-year-old Kimberly Dotts in a wooded area last May. The prosecution began its case, with two teenage witnesses saying that Holtmeyer laughed and casually walked away from Dotts' battered body. One girl testified that Holtmeyer said she wanted to keep one of Dotts' fingers as a souvenir.
Came she like a flower,
soft and incomplete to the fashion of occasional nature...
Came she to the State where lies the great cracked bell of Liberty,
where men and women are what they appear to be.
Came she to the little town,
far flung from the vagaries of big city madness,
well removed from the grand insanity of crowded men and women...
Came she to the age of blossom,
to the years of yearning..
came she to the very threshold of friendships..
to the beginnings of blooming..
Met she with the savageness of fear,
fear of differences, fear of naiveté..
met she face to face with sadistic bullying,
mob rule and peer pressure..
met she with mind numbing boredom,
small town aloof, little village privacy,
teenage secrecy and childhood stretch for independence.
Hanged from the tree of sweetness,
not once, but twice...
tricked by her own innocence,
and her desire to please...
trusting and trussed to her doom...
almost beyond recognition
by one final act of hatred.
What criminal she..???
how deserving she??
How complacent we??
which of these women do we reflect??
and which reflect we most true??
therein lies both the dream,
and the nightmare..
what savage beasts do we rare flowers conceal,
and how fragile the restraining petals.
Who does the damn bell toll for, anyway??
I almost missed it.. just a silly human interest story on the news buried between the turkey and the football games on Thanksgiving. It was on and gone before I could assimilate the barest of facts...
"Daughter D.O.A. at hospital - suspected starvation...15 years old.. Mother and grandmother questioned".
It was like a Dali acidflash.. some sort of cruel joke on one of the sweetest holidays of all.
It was Monday before I got around to reading Sunday's paper, and there was an A.P. wire story hidden inside the smaller type subsections of the lifestyle part of the overabundant daily. There were more details and one of them stopped my heart for a moment. The fifteen year old girl weighed 15 lbs 1oz on arrival at the hospital in Janesville Wisconsin, just a six hour drive from Bloomtown.
The article reported that medical authorities around the nation were astonished at the idea that this child could even be alive at all... I, myself, was absolutely flabbergasted.
Even allowing for the facts....the young girl named Karen had been born as the result of an incestuous relationship between her mother (Kay) and her uncle (Wayne), she was diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy at the age of two, she was only forty two inches tall at the autopsy... and she lived in the state, after all, that gave us Ed Gein (the real life Norman Bates and Hannibal Lector, who set the hallmark for every Jeffrey Dahmer since to follow)... even allowing for the normal muscle deterioration inherent with C.P. this was an astonishing figure. It's three bags of sugar... about fifteen baseballs... fifteen pounds, fifteen years.
I wondered what life was like for this family all those years. I went online and found the Janesville Gazette, and I read the few stories that were there. I found out that, in 1993, Karen and her mother Kay, grandmother Eunice, "father/uncle" Wayne and second uncle Gary were found living in a storage shed next to the highway and sent to a shelter. At the time, it is reported, Karen could not lift her head, or speak or control body functions. Three months later the Cook County Department of Social Services and Community Programs concluded that reports of child abuse and neglect were "unsubstantiated". In 1997, ECHO - a local church community service group - gave the family a week's worth of groceries and a voucher for an Easter meal. At that time, Kay and Eunice brought in $921 a month in social security checks. They were living, along with Gary, in a house that Kay bought.
By 1998, the three women (and maybe the brothers) were subsiding on what they could raise by scavenging for resalable trash and recyclable deposit items. Karen, who had apparently never weighed more than 36 lbs. at any time in her life, who had never attended any type of schooling, and who spent her days in front of the television, was eating baby food and wearing diapers.
Neighbors commented on the friendliness of Kay, the teetotal beliefs, the tidiness of the home and the yard, the privacy of the family (almost no one even knew of Karen's existence...). It seemed like a normal, albeit desperately destitute family and yet there was apparently plenty of food in the house.
I was tempted to judge the mother... and the grandmother... not to mention the two brothers and Kay's grown son, for allowing this ... this... horror story to exist at all, never mind to continue for fifteen years.
I was struck that, at the hospital Kay almost offhandedly told the police that "Everyone's got to go sometime..." and I have to admit that the simple honesty of the statement made me review my judgments.
Clearly, if there was ever the template for a dysfunctional family, this was it. Obviously this family didn't fall between the cracks.. it hurtled into a yawning chasm. Adamantly this small and twisted family unit was unabashedly ignored by the very social and community groups who are designed to not simply help such folks, but actually raise them out of their circumstances and render them as close to self sufficient as possible. There were visiting nurses as recently as 1994.. did they see nothing?? Were there no reports?? Did it not occur to the police that a virtually helpless young girl living with four adults in a storage shed next to a highway was reason for a follow-up??
Or, just perhaps, was there really nothing at all actually wrong??
Could one not suggest that this young girl had a pretty good shake of the dice for fifteen years. Apparently, although deprived of many of the material pleasures to which most of us aspire, she spent her life - a far lengthier one than most experts would forecast, given her condition - in the bosom of a caring and close group of supporting family members. Maybe, after fifteen years of helping support her mother, her son, her two brothers and the round the clock care of her ailing tiny child... just maybe this mother had simply had enough, and decided to let go. And who among us could attach much blame to her for that?... (well, the local police has charged Karen with neglect, but I'm not sure that they'll have much sympathy from the closely knit Wisconsin community).
We are too often led to hysteria by our own horror at events that so dramatically stray from the norm and sometimes we lose perspective.
It would be nice to think that the good folk of Janesville Wisconsin might sensibly conclude that Kay has had to wade through and live in quite enough......shit in her life, and that perhaps she should be left to attempt to actually develop a life as best she can, with her long time burden finally lifted from her shoulders.
In the grand scheme of things, the death of one pitifully developed child who managed to outlive expectations by about 1000 percent should be cause for relief and maybe even amazement at the resilience of the human body and the human spirits who dedicate such effort to preserving that resilience.
I do know this one fact. I shall never celebrate another Thanksgiving holiday, as long as I live, without thinking of Karen.... small almost beyond belief, and Kay... dealt an unimaginably devastating hand in life.
I shall be interested to see what transpires in Janesville.
I have a small hope that the town might be known, in the future, as Karensville.
click your mice together