Five accused of luring Florida teen to his death
Seath Jackson, 15, was brutally beaten, shot several times and burned to ashes in a backyard fire pit. Detectives say he was lured by his ex-girlfriend to a house where she, her brother and friends were waiting.
By Anika Myers Palm and Arelis R. Hernandez, Orlando Sentinel
April 22, 2011
Reporting from Orlando, Fla.
At the beginning of March, 15-year-old Seath Jackson adored Amber Wright.
He posted on Facebook that he loved Wright, also 15, and noted on one peaceful afternoon that he was spending time with her and her brother, 16-year-old Kyle Hooper. Weeks later, the young couple had broken up.
Now Wright is accused of luring Jackson to his death with text messages.
Marion County Sheriff's Office detectives say Wright, Hooper and three older friends planned a deadly encounter during which Jackson was beaten and shot several times, then burned to ashes. They have been charged with first-degree murder.
James Young Havens III, 37, who is Wright and Hooper's stepfather, is accused of acting as an accessory after the fact.
The killing has shocked residents and crime experts.
"Our detectives seasoned detectives shook their heads in disbelief because this type of first-degree murder is unimaginable," sheriff's spokesman Judge Cochran said.
Authorities began searching for Jackson on Monday after his parents in Belleview 75 miles northwest of Orlando reported him missing.
It wasn't until Tuesday that Hooper in the presence of his mother, Tracey Wright told deputies that he saw 18-year-old Michael Shane Bargo shoot Jackson, according to the sheriff's office. He later admitted that he, his sister and friends had planned the crime and lured Jackson to his death, the sheriff's office said.
Hooper told deputies the plan came together Sunday as he, his sister, Bargo, 18-year-old Charlie Kay Ely and 20-year-old Justin Soto were at Ely's house in Summerfield, just miles from the Jackson home.
Bargo said he hated Jackson, and the group hatched a plot to lure him to the house, according to arrest affidavits.
It's unclear why Bargo so disliked Jackson, who indicated on his Facebook page that he thought Wright and an older boy he called "Mike" were romantically involved.
Wright and Ely called Jackson to try to get him to the house Sunday, but he declined at first. But after a barrage of text messages and phone calls from Wright, Jackson arrived at the home that afternoon, according to the documents.
As soon as Jackson walked in, Bargo, Hooper and Soto began to hit him in the head with wooden objects, the documents said. Ely told detectives that she ran into her bedroom after she saw Hooper hit Jackson.
Bargo shot him several times with a .22-caliber revolver, according to the arrest documents. When Jackson tried to flee, Soto tackled him, and Bargo shot him again, detectives said.
The group then placed Jackson's body in a bathtub so Bargo could break his knees to more easily put him in a sleeping bag, the documents say. But Soto said he and Bargo realized Jackson was still alive, so Bargo shot him again, detectives said. Jackson's body was then placed into a blue sleeping bag.
Soto said he helped look for firewood, and the group burned the body in a fire pit in the backyard until it was just ashes and bone fragments, the documents say.
The group put Jackson's remains into several 5-gallon paint cans, according to the documents, then cleaned the house with bleach.
Ely denied any involvement in the killing, disposal of the body or cleanup, according to the documents.
Later, neighbors said, the youths played basketball.
Authorities said Havens knew about the plan in advance. As he was released from jail on bond this week, Havens said he hadn't believed that the group would go through with the crime and that he was worried about his own future.
"I'm looking at a lot of years [in prison] right now," he told television reporters. "I'm scared."
Investigators continued looking for clues around the small peach-colored mobile home that Ely, Soto and Bargo rented. Out front, a small memorial to Jackson grew. Stapled to a utility pole were notes and a red teddy bear.