Skip to comments.Jessie Buried While Alive, Documents Say
Posted on 04/21/2005 4:18:43 AM PDT by Cincinatus' Wife
HOMOSASSA - Jessica Marie ``Jessie'' Lunsford spent the last hours of her life bound and buried alive in a partial kneeling position while she clutched one of her favorite dolls, a purple stuffed dolphin, prosecutors say in documents released Wednesday. When her body was found buried March 19 in a 4-foot- deep grave, the 9-year-old Citrus County girl was wrapped in two plastic trash bags that were knotted at her head and feet, the state attorney's office said in 292 pages of evidence - released to the defense Tuesday - that revealed the nature of her death.
The files include statements from investigators, the coroner's office and John Evander Couey, 46, the convicted sex offender who investigators say gave them a statement saying he raped and killed Jessie.
The documents released Wednesday say Jessie's wrists were bound with stereo wire and two of her fingers poked through the plastic, arguably an indication she tried to escape her makeshift tomb.
The documents also say she was kept alive for an unspecified period near the home she shared with her father, Mark, and grandparents, Archie and Ruth.
Authorities say Couey gave them information only her killer would know.
Jessie was buried 150 yards from her home, behind a trailer Couey shared with three other adults.
She was dressed in shorts and a tank-top shirt, different from the nightgown authorities and her family say she wore before she disappeared.
A coroner's report states she suffocated.
The documents say there was no other sign of trauma.
Assistant State Attorney Pete Magrino would not discuss the taped statements by Couey or other details of the case.
The recording ``will not be released to the public until the trial,'' Magrino said.
Couey is charged with first- degree murder, sexual battery on a child under 12, kidnapping, and burglary with battery.
Prosecutors say they will seek the death penalty if he is convicted on the murder charge.
Couey, despite his recorded statement to authorities, has pleaded not guilty.
His court-appointed attorney, Assistant Public Defender Dan Lewan, could not be reached for comment.
Investigators say Jessie's grave was partially concealed by a mound of leaves and debris that littered the back yard where she was buried. It is still not known whether she was buried before deputies, volunteers and search dogs combed the yard in the first days of their search.
Citrus County Sheriff Jeff Dawsy has said Couey's account of things was jumbled because he was in a drug haze at the time of the crimes. Evidence collected near the grave includes two glass crack-cocaine pipes and three pornographic magazines, according to investigators' statements.
Other sheriff's interviews suggest that Couey's three housemates used alcohol and drugs and may have harbored him from deputies seeking to arrest him on a misdemeanor violation of probation charge shortly after Jessie was reported missing.
Last month, his half sister, Dorothy Marie Dixon, 47; Madie Catherine Secord, 27; and Matthew Oley Dittrich, 31, were charged with misdemeanor obstruction, but prosecutors dropped the charges, saying Florida lacks a law making lying to deputies a crime in their case.
Meanwhile, investigators searching Couey's bedroom say they seized the sleeve from a Shirley Temple videotape, ``Curly Top,'' and several items of bedding or clothing that tested positive for blood or could contain blood samples. The file has no information about the source of the blood.
They unsuccessfully sought a pair of leather gloves authorities say Couey said he wore during the abduction.
On Feb. 23, the night she was last seen alive by her family, Jessie went to church. She was discovered missing by her father the next morning, a day she anticipated taking the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test, documents say.
A door of the family's mobile home was found unlocked.
Prosecutors say sometime during the night of Feb. 23 or early the next morning, Couey slipped into the Lunsford home and snatched the girl, leaving no signs of a struggle and without waking her grandparents, who were sleeping in another part of the house.
At the time, authorities say, he had not reported his move to Jessie's neighborhood. Registered sex offenders are required to report a change of address.
Couey was stopped on a probation violation March 12 in Savannah, Ga., but the warrant did not carry out-of-state arrest authority, so he was released. He was arrested on a revised warrant March 17.
The next day, after he underwent a polygraph test but before he knew the results, he made a statement of guilt, authorities say.
what else is there but the death penalty for this slime?
And we waste time, effort and money trying to figure out a way that we can "track" these monsters??? What has happened to our society. They should and MUST be locked up.
That poor little baby - it is unthinkable.
I'd like to see somebody argue why this guy shouldn't be given the death penalty.
It's so depraved and evil, even hardened criminals find it disturbing and wish to harm these creeps.
Horror writers need not make up imaginary monsters, they walk amongst us.
And the judge who released this scum bag will live on to let another creep back on the streets of America.
OK....Then here I go...
Institutionalized death penalty would be far to peaceful and costly for this scumbag....
Life without parole in general population would be far better....
In his case "life" would probably be less than 1 week.....and a pretty horrific week at that..
Torture, then death.
We need an offshore "devil's island" for such criminals where they can be cheaply warehoused for decades. Major drug pushers too.
If it was my daughter, my thoughts would be, "at least 3 of them are out on the streets where I can reach them." And believe me, they would be reached.
This piece of scum deserves the death penalty.
Public hanging on TV
I agree with what you said. And I would make sure they saw my face so they knew who and why also.
My thoughts, exactly. Death is too good for this creep.
He deserves the slow shredder, feet first.
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