On February 23, 2005 a nine-year old girl in Homosassa, Florida disappeared after attending a Wednesday evening church service. She was missing for almost 3 weeks before police found her body in a trash bag, holding a purple stuffed dolphin, in a grave no more than 3 feet deep. Publicly released autopsy reports said that the little girl, Jessica Lunsford, who dreamed of being a fashion designer and Olympic swimmer, had managed to tear two fingers through the garbage bag before suffocating to death.
Reports say that a neighbor, 46-year-old John Couey (who was drug hazed) broke into the family's unsecured mobile home at 3am and kidnapped Jessica, covering her mouth and telling her to keep quiet. He held her captive for more than a day and during this time she was the victim of sexual molestation and rape. She was told to stay in the closet while he went to work and did other activities. Although there is no substantial evidence to prove how long she was captive, it's very possible it was as long as three days. On the last day, Couey tied Jessica up with stereo wire, forced her into trash bags and buried her alive in his half-sister's backyard, visible from Jessica's house, only 150 yards away.
Couey's criminal record spans for more than 30 years and 24 arrests, including DUI, burglary, larceny, fraud, drug charges, and fondling a child under 16 (making him a sex offender in the state of Florida). Although he was a registered sex offender in Citrus County, he had not yet registered his new address, where he lived across the street from Jessica. He was sentenced to 10 years in prison, but he was paroled in 1980 because of prison overcrowding.
Couey's niece, Madie Secord, testified to purchasing a bus ticket in her name to Savannah, Ga., at her uncle's request after Jessica went missing. Upon burying Jessica Lunsford alive, Couey fled to Georgia in hopes of avoiding discovery and criminal charges. He was arrested in Augusta for violating probation charges...
References: Brain damage and terrible childhood: Jury hears killer 's Mitigating evidence". CourtTVNews. March 14, 2007. http://www.courttv.com/trials/lunsford/031307-pm_ctv.html"Couey guilty of murdering 9-year-old Jessica Lunsford". CNN.com. March 8, 2007. http://www.cnn.com/2007/LAW/03/07/girl.slain/index.html?iref=newssearch"In evidence: Jessica Lundsford Murder Photo Gallery". CourtTVNews. http://www.courttv.com/trials/lunsford/photo_gallery/index1.html?curPhoto=1"Judge: Florida girl 's killing 'beyond words '". CNN.com. March 23, 2005.
http://www.cnn.com/2005/LAW/03/22/lunsford.case/index.html?iref=newssearch"Sheriff: Evidence points to sex abuse". CNN.com. March 21, 2005.
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