Christa Gail Pike killed Colleen Slemmer under torture when she was 18 years old. At age 20, she was found guilty of the crime. She was consequently the nation’s youngest woman to be given the death penalty in the post-Furman era.
Christa Gail Pike, who was born on March 10, 1976, had a difficult childhood due to her mother’s preference for partying over raising her and her absent father. She was primarily raised by her grandmother, but when Pike was only 12 years old, her grandmother passed away, forcing her to return to living with her mother.
When Pike was just a teenager, her mother introduced her to marijuana, and as a result of poverty, family instability, and drug addiction, Pike’s life became even more chaotic. Pike’s obsession with the occult and devil worship, coupled with her irrational jealousy, eventually drove her to brutally murder her classmate.
Inside The Murder of Colleen Slemmer
Christa Pike spent a month in juvenile detention following her high school dropout and arrest for shoplifting. After that, she enrolled in Job Corps to pursue a career as a nurse technician, but her attention soon turned to boys, especially Tadaryl Shipp. Shipp, who dropped out of high school and got involved with gang members before enrolling in the Knoxville Job Corps to study culinary arts, also came from a challenging background.
Unfortunately, Pike’s obsession with Shipp set off a tragic series of events that resulted in the murder of innocent teenager Colleen Slemmer.
Their shared fascination with Satanism and the occult, or a distorted interpretation of it, drew them together, and this fixation also caught the attention of other attendees of the Job Corps program, such as Shadolla Peterson.
Young and cheerful Colleen Slemmer, from Jacksonville, Florida, had signed up for the Knoxville Job Corps to study computer technology.
But three months after Slemmer’s arrival, she ran into trouble with Christa Pike. Pike alleged that Slemmer was pursuing Shipp and attempting to sever their relationship. Despite Pike’s accusations being refuted by Slemmer and her friends, she was able to persuade Shipp and Peterson that Slemmer needed to be sacrificed to Satan.
Pike told her friend Kim Iolio on January 11, 1995, that she was going to kill Slemmer because she was feeling mean. Iolio initially dismissed Pike’s words as idle chatter, but she would soon come to regret that decision.
The skull of Slemmer was given to her mother, but Christa Pike never returned with the piece she had taken as a memento.
The next night, Christa Pike, Tadaryl Shipp, and Shadolla Peterson offered Slemmer some marijuana in exchange for her company in the woods. When they arrived, though, Pike and Shipp launched a vicious assault on Slemmer while Peterson stood watch.
Slemmer endured physical assault, verbal abuse, and knife wounds over the course of thirty minutes; Pike even carved a pentagram into her chest. Pike ultimately killed Slemmer by striking her with a sizable piece of asphalt, and as a macabre souvenir, she kept a piece of Slemmer’s skull.
Body Discovery, Arrest and Trial
Pike’s self-incriminating actions, such as bragging about the skull fragment to her friends, allowed police to identify her as a suspect and question her on January 15, 1995. Pike waived her Miranda rights and immediately admitted to the murder in her own words. She initially insisted that all she wanted was for Slemmer to leave her alone, but the severity of the abuse suggested otherwise.
Pike acknowledged that as Slemmer begged for her life, she became more violent toward her. Slemmer begged Pike to let her go, but the more she did, the harder Pike kicked her in the face and slashed her throat.
Christa Pike, Tadaryl Shipp, and Shadolla Peterson were all detained for their role in the murder of Colleen Slemmer less than two days after the crime.
During the trial, Pike’s lawyers tried to argue that her “diminished mental capacity” was responsible for the murder.
Pike had a severe case of borderline personality disorder, as well as a cannabis addiction and depression, but according to testimony from Dr. Eric Engum, she showed no symptoms of brain damage or mental illness. Pike was convicted and given the death penalty despite this testimony.
Tadaryl Shipp was given a life sentence with the possibility of parole after 25 years after the jury found him guilty of murder.
Shadolla Peterson admitted to being an accessory after the fact in exchange for probation by testifying for the government.
Christa Pike was convicted of capital murder and conspiracy to commit murder after only two-and-a-half hours of jury deliberation. She was sentenced to death by electrocution for the murder charge on March 30, 1996. She is yet to be sentenced.