There's nothing like the teen years: riding high on a wave of uncontrollable hormones, all while your parents try to hold on to their sanity. These teens took uncontrollable to the next level. Whether these teen murderers were compelled by jealousy, hatred, or a clinical cold interest in murder, their crimes have terrified us completely.
1. Brenda Ann Spencer
Although many of us don’t enjoy the start of the work week, Brenda Ann Spencer had a really bad case of the Monday blues. In 1979, Spencer was convicted of the Cleveland Elementary School shooting. That morning, Spencer shot the principal, a custodian, a police officer, and eight children as they were entering the school. The shootings were committed from Spencer’s home, just across the street from the targeted school.
At just 16 years old, Spencer was charged as an adult and pleaded guilty to two counts of murder and assault with a deadly weapon. Ultimately, she was sentenced to 25 years to life in prison, where she remains to this day. When a reporter asked Spencer why she did it, she simply answered: “I don’t like Mondays. This livens up the day.”
2. Lionel Tate
On July 1999, Lionel Tate was left alone with 6-year-old Tiffany Eunick when she became unresponsive. Eunick was being babysat by Tate’s mother, Kathleen Grossett-Tate, who left the children playing downstairs. After Tate’s mother told them to quiet down, Tate went to his mother 45 minutes later to tell her that Eunick was no longer breathing. He stated that Eunick hit her head on the table as the result of their wrestling.
Eventually, Tate was convicted of killing Eunick by forcibly stomping on her and lacerating her liver. At just 13, he became the youngest American citizen to be sentenced to life in prison. Later, his sentence was overturned, on grounds that life imprisonment was too harsh a sentence for someone so young, and because Tate’s mental competency had not been fully assessed before trial. Eventually released to house arrest, Tate has been in and out of prison since beginning probation.
3. Barry Loukaitis
Sometimes, it’s hard to tell just what pushes a young person to commit horrific crimes. Barry Dale Loukaitis’s case is one of those. On February 2, 1996, Loukaitis walked from his home to his school, Frontier Middle School, armed with a .30-30 caliber hunting rifle and two handguns. He entered his algebra class and opened fire at students and his algebra teacher. Loukaitis killed three, students Arnold Fritz and Manuel Vela and teacher Leona Caries. He also critically injured 13-year-old Natalie Hintz.
Various questions arose during the trial about the state of Loukaitis’ mental health. Psychiatrist Joan Petrich testified that Loukaitis had been experiencing delusional and messianic thoughts at the time of the shooting. Prosecutors brought forth an opposing argument that Loukaitis had carefully planned the shooting, possibly inspired by Pearl Jam’s popular song, “Jeremy”, Stephen King’s novel Rage and the 1994 film, Natural Born Killers. After over a year spent on trial, Loukaitis was sentenced to serve two life sentences and an additional 205 years without the possibility of parole.
4. Eric Smith
Self-esteem issues, puberty, bullys... It can be hard to be a teen. But some teens go well beyond mean into straight-up evil. The killing of four-year-old Derrick Robie by 13-year-old Eric Smith made national headlines thanks to the act’s sheer depravity.
Eric was riding his bike to summer camp when he saw 4-year-old Derrick Robie walking alone to the same camp. Smith lured Robie into a wooded area where we strangled him, hit him with a large rock, undressed his body, and sodomized him with a tree limb. Six days later, Smith confessed to his mother that he murdered Robie; law enforcement was informed of the crime later that night. On August 16, 1994, Smith was convicted of second-degree murder and was sentenced to the maximum term for teen murderers: a minimum of nine years to life in prison.
5. Peter Zimmer
In our adolescence we feel so misunderstood by our parents that we rebel. But the typical rebellion is something like staying out half an hour past curfew or trying a cigarette. Peter Zimmer was not one for half-hearted rebellion. Back in May 1983, Zimmer—who was only 14 years old—shot his adoptive parents and stabbed his brother. Why, you might ask? He hated living in Wisconsin.
At the time, under Wisconsin law Zimmer could not be charged as an adult. He ended up serving only four years in a juvenile facility and claimed his family’s estate as the sole surviving heir. So in 1987, Zimmer walked out a free man with a clean record and a trust fund. Zimmer decided to change his name to Jovan Collier to start anew. However, old habits die hard and Collier was in the hot seat once again for stalking an ex-girlfriend in 2009.
6. Erin Caffey
When Erin Caffey reentered public school after two years of homeschooling, her parents anticipated some new fights–but not the end of their happy lives in the process. Cafey had started dating Charlie Wilkinson, two years her senior, just before returning to high school for her senior year. Sick of her parents’ attempts to limit her world, Caffey convinced Wilkinson to help her kill her family, saying that it was the only way they could be together. Wilkinson’s suggestions that they instead have a child or run away together were summarily dismissed. Caffey also enlisted Wilkinson’s friends, Bobbi Johnson and Charles Waid to help.
At just 16 years old, Caffey came up with a plan for Wilkinson and Waid to shoot and kill her family before burning their house to the ground. Her mother and two brothers were killed, but Caffey’s father Terry was able to escape. Each of the four involved with Caffey’s plan is now in jail. Caffey will be eligible for parole when she is 59.
Teens go to a lot of trouble to host ragers while their parents are out of town, but not many go to the extremes that Tyler Hadley did. On July 16, 2011, Hadley, who was 17, made a Facebook post letting people know that he was having a party. He used his parents’ cards to buy booze and cigars and gathered about 60 people. The next morning, Hadley was arrested.
Hadley had murdered his parents only hours before he threw the party. He took three pills of Ecstasy and beat his parents to death with a hammer; he spent three hours cleaning up the blood and hid their bodies in the master bedroom. That night Hadley told his friend, Michael Mandell, that he beat his parents, and even showed him the bedroom and the blood. Hadley told multiple people at the party about his crime, at least two of whom then reported his crimes to the police. Ultimately, Hadley was sentenced to life imprisonment without parole.
8. Nehemiah Griego
After this gruesome shooting, police found five people dead inside a house in South Valley, New Mexico. A .22-caliber rifle was used to shoot a woman and three children, while an AR-15 was used on an adult male when he arrived home. The attack was classified as a familicide. Who committed such a heinous crime? None other than the oldest son, Nehemiah Griego. In a statement to the police, Griego—15 at the time—stated that he obtained the guns from his parents’ closet. Griego had been dealing with suicidal and homicidal thoughts and intended to drive off and use the guns to kill others, ideally dying in a gun battle with the police. On October 2015, Griego pleaded guilty to two counts of second-degree murder and three counts of child abuse. Since Griego was sentenced as a minor, he is eligible to be released in late 2018. His remaining family hopes to help him access mental health care upon his release.
9. Kim Edwards & Lucas Markham
This pair remains known as Britain’s youngest double killers. The 14-year-olds had been dating for 10 months when they decided to murder Elizabeth, 49, and Katie Edwards, 13—Kim’s mother and sister. Edwards and Markham were drawn to each other by shared suicidal ideation. Edwards resented the close relationship between her mother and sister. Soon, the couple convinced each other that the solution to Edwards’s feeling of exclusion was to murder them.
The couple worked together to plan and execute the murders at Kim’s house—Kim planned the callous killings while Markham used a kitchen knife to stab both victims in the neck for a total of 10 times as they slept. After the murders were executed, the couple remained in the house after the killings where they had sex, shared a bath, and watched Twilight, meriting them their unforgettable nickname: the Twilight killers. Having initially been reported missing to the police, the couple was found and arrested at the Edwards’ home 36 hours after the killings. The couple were sentenced to life in prison.
Related: 15 Killer Kids Who Will Change the Way You See Children
10. Rachel Wade
There’s nothing like young love, the butterflies in the pit of your stomach or the anticipation of a first kiss; it’s all nice and dandy...until someone gets hurt.
First love is so sweet… until a heart gets broken. When Rachel Wade fell in love with Joshua Camacho, the stars seemed to align. The two had been childhood friends, and Wade was head over heels. But Camacho was less invested. Even as he moved into Wade’s apartment, Camacho was seeing another girl: Sarah Ludemann.
The two quickly learned of each other’s existence and began fighting. Wade left Ludemann harassing voicemails; Ludemann and her friend showed up at the Applebee’s Wade worked at to mess with her. The night of April 14, 2009, Ludemann decided to go by Wade’s apartment to frighten her on the way to Camacho’s sister’s house to watch movies. Wade asked an ex if she could come over for protection, and took a steak knife out of his kitchen. When Ludemann heard that Wade was nearby, she drove by and ran out of her car. Wade stabbed her in the heart, and Ludemann died on the streets. Wade was convicted of second degree murder and remains in prison in Florida.