On February 20, 1998, four teen-agers and two young adults from eastern Kentucky pleaded guilty to killing a couple and their 6-year-old daughter. Prosecutor Berkeley Bell said the deal -- which spared them from the death penalty -- was supported by the relatives of Vidar and Delfina Lillelid, who were shot to death with their daughter Tabitha. Their 2-year-old son Peter survived a bullet through his eye and is living with relatives in Sweden.
On April 6 the Lillelids -- who were on their way back from a Jehovah's Witnesses conference in Johnson City -- met the killer teen squad in a highway rest stop in northeast Tennessee. They were later found in a muddy ditch along a gravel road several miles away. Vidar, shot six times, and Delfina, shot eight times, died with their children in their laps. Their legs had been run over by their own van, prosecutors said.
The six suspects -- Jason Blake Bryant, 15, Natasha Cornett, 19, Crystal Sturgill, 18, Karen Howell, 18, Dean Mullins, 20, and Joe Risner, 21 -- were arrested in Arizona while driving the Lillelids' van two days after the slayings. The group had been turned away at the Mexican border because two of them were juveniles.
Cornett, the reputed ringleader,told her first lawyer she was the daughter of Satan. Prosecutors said two days before the killings the group held a bizarre ritual in a Pikeville, Ky., motel room that included self-mutilation and bloodletting. Cornett -- who said she wanted to to cross the country killing peoplelike in "Natural Born Killers" -- had almost 20 cuts on her right arm and about 50 on her left arm when she was arrested. Apparently she only could communicate with Satan after cutting herself and bleeding.