During the early afternoon of Sunday, 23rd April 2006 a young boy went to call on his friend at 304 Cameron Road in "a quiet residential street" at the city of Medicine Hat, Alberta in Canada. The boy found no answer when he called at the house, although when he looked through the window he thought he saw a body, and so very sensibly ran home to tell his mother. Having received a call at 1:34 p.m from the mother, the local police duly attended 304 Cameron Road where they discovered the bodies of both Marc and Debra Richardson, together with that of their eight year old son Jacob.
As it was later established, the husband Marc had been stabbed a total of twenty-four times, whilst his wife Debra had suffered twelve wounds. Their son Tyler Jacob was found upstairs in his bedroom with four stab wounds and with his throat sliced open. The murder weapon, a black-handled filet knife, was recovered from the scene, being found
buckled in the middle and bent at the tip.
Police were naturally concerned about the whereabouts and safety of the couple's twelve year old daughter Jasmine Richardson, but she was found alive and well the very the next day some one hundred and sixty kilometres away at Leader, Saskatchewan in the company of the twenty-three year old Jeremy Allan Steinke. In fact both were arrested by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, and later that same day charged with three counts of first-degree murder.
Now, if you happen to be Canadian you should probably stop reading at this point, since under the Youth Criminal Justice Act you are not permitted to know that Jasmine Richardson was the individual charged with the three murders and she "cannot be identified by name nor can anything be written that may tend to expose her identity". However since a number of Canadian news reports refer to the "13-year-old accused in a triple murder" and then mention the fact the family is "survived by a 13-year-old daughter" without naming her, makes it abundantly clear that there is only one "13-year-old" involved.( Not to mention those that refer to the "girl who helped slaughter her entire family" etc.) One therefore suspects that even those Canadians who don't have access to the Internet have already added two and two together. (Incidentally Jasmine was twelve when the murders were committed, thirteen when her trial took place, and fourteen when she was finally sentenced.)
At the root of all this appears to be the relationship between Jasmine Richardson and Jeremy Allan Steinke. Apparently the pair first met at what sources refer to as "an all-ages punk rock show in Medicine Hat" early in 2006. Jasmine's parents naturally disapproved of their twelve year old daughter dating a man almost twice her age. So they grounded their daughter and forbade her from having any further contact with Jeremy. This of course, was easier said than done given that this is the age of the Internet.
In fact Jasmine had been cultivating an online presence since August 2005, and under the name of Runawaydevil had profiles on various websites such as MySpace, VampireFreaks and Zorpia. There she variously described herself as "bisexual, Wiccan, nocturnal, awkward, loud, a deep thinker and insane", claimed an affinity for body piercing and death metal music, announced that her "heart and soul" was "filled with fear" and posted a photograph of herself holding a pistol. He boyfriend Jeremy similarly had his own online alter-ego, wand under the the alias of Souleater he stated that he was "obsessed with blood" and even claimed at one point that he was a three hundred year old werewolf. Naturally it was simplicity itself for the two to remain in contact online and they continued to profess their love for one another in a number of messages. In particular, it was on the 20th March 2006 that Jasmine sent a message regarding her parents to Jeremy in which she announced that "I hate them so much. So I have this plan. It begins with me killing them and ends with me living with you." (Although she was later to claim that this statement together with other similar communications she'd had with her boyfriend were entirely "hypothetical".)
Which brings us to the events of the evening of the 22nd April 2006, when Jasmine made a phone call to her boyfriend to vent her anger about the family. Jeremy then apparently sat down to watch the film Natural Born Killers that evening, before making his way to the Richardson household during the early hours of the morning of the 23rd April. According to Jasmine's own account of events she then found herself upstairs comforting her understandably frightened brother as her boyfriend Jeremy was downstairs killing both of her parents. He then appeared upstairs, handed her the knife and ordered her to finish off her brother with the words, "Just stab him. Just do it. Just slit his throat". She then stabbed her brother once, "somewhere on his upper body", but couldn't do anything more. Jeremy then snatched the knife away from her and slashed the boy's throat.
Bizarrely Jeremy then decided to leave the house without her. Left to her own devices Jasmine then made no attempt to contact the emergency services and summon help for her family. Rather she took her mother's purse, found there wasn't much money in the purse, ordered a taxi, and then ran to the nearest 7-Eleven to get money to pay the taxi, gave the driver directions to her boyfriend's mobile home where he lived with his mother, and then jumped into bed with him and had sex. Indeed she did not appear to bear him any ill will, and even after they were arrested she accepted his proposal of marriage and announced that "The world is against us it can only get so bad before it gets better."
Her trial on three counts of first-degree murder duly opened at the Court of Queen's Bench in Medicine Hat on the 4th June 2007. Jasmine duly pleaded not guilty and blamed everything on her boyfriend Jeremy Allan Steinke, claiming that "I was like a zombie, I could barely function". However after deliberating for a little more than three hours, on the 9th July 2007 the jury returned a verdict of guilty on all three counts of first-degree murder, making her at least the youngest person ever to be convicted of a convicted of multiple murder in Canada and possibly even the country's youngest ever convicted killer.
Under Canadian Law the maximum sentence she can receive is ten years of which no more than six can actually be served while in custody. Sentencing was expected on the 23rd August but was postponed until October 2007, at which point the Crown Prosecutor Stephanie Cleary was calling for her to receive the 'full' ten year sentence. Psychiatric reports produced at her sentencing hearing stated that she was suffering from a number of psychological disorders, including something called "oppositional defiance disorder". Her defence claimed that she had a change of heart about Steinke (she no longer wanted to marry him) and that she was nothing more than the victim of a predator who should serve no more than seven years (with full credit for the eighteen months already served). Judgement was reserved until the 8th November.
Jasmine Richardson was finally sentenced on the appointed day to four years in a psychiatric institution where she will undergo rehabilitative treatment, followed by another four and a half years under conditional supervision in the community.
Her alleged accomplice Jeremy Steinke hasn't even be tried as yet. (And therefore no one knows to what extent his version of events might differ from the above.) On the 16th August 2007 his lawyers filed a request for a change of venue, arguing that it would prejudicial if the trial was actually held in Medicine Hat, and in any case his trial isn't expected to begin until the spring of 2008 at the earliest. He was in court on the 8th November as well still arguing for a change of venue.
There was also a Kacy Lancaster who was also arrested with Jasmine and Jeremy on the 24th April 2006 and later charged with being an accessory after the fact in May 2006. It was alleged that she was responsible for destroying evidence (that is, helping to clean the blood from Jeremy Steinke's truck) and for driving both Jasmine and Jeremy to Saskatchewan. She appeared as a prosecution witness at Jasmine's trial on the 28th June claiming that she had known nothing about the murders until she saw a copy of the Medicine Hat News at a gas station in Saskatchewan. Although she admitted that she had indeed helped the pair escape she claimed that "I actually thought that she had run away from home", and whilst she admitted cleaning "some stuff on the seat he didn't want his mom to see" from Jeremy's truck, she justified this on the basis that "I was stoned. I didn't ask questions."
Another young woman named Jenna Vincent similarly testified at the trial to helping Kacy Lancaster clean out the truck. She also claimed that she "knew something happened" at the time but apparently did not think it was "anything like what actually did", and was in any case stoned on marijuana and cocaine at the time she carried out her cleaning duties. Jenna Vincent had earlier pled guilty to a charge of obstruction of justice in youth court on the 19th June 2007 and later received twenty months probation when sentenced on the 17th September 2007. Incidentally this "17-year-old girl" also cannot be identified under the provisions of the Youth Criminal Justice Act.
Kacy Lancaster, who was nineteen at the time of the murders, and was therefore regarded as an adult, remains to be tried and is currently out on bail of $25,000 secured on her mother's house.
- Medicine Hat Police Service Media Release
- Three bodies discovered in Medicine Hat home, Apr. 24 2006
- Leanne Dohy, Triple murder shocks city, Calgary Herald, April 24, 2006
- Jasmine Richardson and Jeremy Steinke to Stand Trial for Murder
January 17, 2007
- Sherri Zickefoose, Tearful teens take the stand in triple murder trial, CanWest News Service June 20, 2007
- James Neeley, 'Natural Born Killers' viewed by Steinke the night before Richardsons murdered, Medicine Hat News Jun 29, 2007
- Sherri Zickefoose, Teen accused in triple murder was no bystander, CanWest News Service, July 06, 2007
- Girl guilty of 3 murders, The Subdbury Star July 10, 2007
- Jamie Komarnicki, Girl's future will be an uphill climb, The Ottawa Citizen, July 11, 2007
- Sherri Zickefoose, Sentencing delayed for girl convicted of murdering family, Thursday, August 16, 2007
- James Neeley, Teen sentenced for role in murder, Medicine Hat News, Sep 12, 2007
- Judge reserves sentencing in Medicine Hat triple-murder, CBC News, October 22, 2007
- Sherri Zickefoose, Mental illness plagues killer girl, Calgary Herald, October 23, 2007
- Medicine Hat killer teen sentenced to 4 years in institution, CBC News, November 8, 2007
See also the Mad Hatter's Blog at http://www.medhatblog.com which carried daily coverage of the trial including links to various YouTube clips of the television coverage.