“If she killed? If she killed? The small teenager in a hair bonnet says into the camera, “oh fuc*in’ well. Oh, fuc*in’ well, ho.” She addresses the 15-year-old girl that her friend had just stabbed in the heart minutes ago. The tiny girl had just witnessed a murder and, along with the killer and her other friends, sent her message live on social media. It all appeared to be just another night for the young teen girls. And for the watching public, it will be just another story in days.
The murder played out live on social media as the girls, aged 12 to 15, live-streamed themselves stealing the weapon, confronting the victim, running from the crime scene, then bragging. The crime made news because not one of the perpetrators was old enough for high school. And it made news because of the perpetrators’ callousness, live and in our faces, “the train wreck effect” – we could not look away. (But soon enough, we will.)
“How can a child be so angry?” The victim’s grandmother asks. “It scares me. There’s so much anger – so much anger.”
The entire incident – from the theft of the murder weapon to the aftermath of the stabbing – was sent live on social media. Regan, the 13-year-old perpetrator, is observed stealing a kitchen knife from a display at a popular chain store, glancing up at the ceiling, presumably for security cameras. Bethany, Cori, and an unnamed girl watch and record. The phone camera’s battery is dying, one of her friends says. Someone else suggests charging it. One girl is 12; two are 13. They giggle and preen. “Let me put my face on,” one demands. The conversation includes “I need my mace” and “I need my taser.” Evidently, someone else has the Taser and “needs to give it back.”
|"The" photo of January 2021: Regan |
running out of the Walmart, after
The video jostles through much of the rest, but the victim, Melanie Lyons, is observed charging down the aisle. “Yeah, we’re about to come outside as soon as my sisters come-“someone in Raegan’s group shouts. “Bitch, don’t fuc*ing tempt me!” Raegan lunges. Terrifying screams echo throughout the store. “Oh, Lord Jesus Christ! One of the girls, near the cellphone, shouts. Next, they are seen in an unknown vehicle. “Raegan just stabbed somebody at Walmart,” one of them shouts into the camera. “We just stabbed a bitch in the heart, and we don’t give a fuc*!” Then, “She looked at us and was like, ‘Oh, I’m bleeding…’” Another voice agrees. “She leakin’.”
It began in a movie theatre where Melanie, celebrating her fifteenth birthday, was gathering with friends. One story has it there was a fight over a boy. Another has Melanie and her group “bumping into each other.” Each group left the movies and walked over to the store, where the aggressors went to the kitchen goods aisle to steal a knife from a plastic pack.
Each of the families blames the other for which teen was the aggressor; Regan’s family claims self-defense, while Melanie’s family claims cold-blooded murder.
And at the end of the night, the girls line up for the video finale, where the girl in the bonnet makes her statement. The girls talk over one another as they add, “We’re sorry we (called the victim names). This is to – what’s the (victim’s) name? Melanie?” “We’re sorry, ya’ll. It coulda been one of my sisters” says one of the girls. “Yeah,” the bonneted girl adds laconically.
In the aftermath, four teens are sitting in jail, one with a charge of second-degree murder and three for being principals to second-degree murder. One teen lies in a coffin. Five families are grieving in various ways. There is in-fighting, rumor and innuendo, online blame-gaming, and much, much judgment. But the worst part of all, that we know for sure? In a month, it will all be history for the public.
Injustice Investigations News Media 7 YouTube Vlog (2021, Jan. 27). “Louisiana teen stabbed to death in Walmart.” https://youtu.be/I3Cqarwqt_s
Morris, J. (2021, Jan. 25). “Walmart Stabbing Louisiana Video: Facebook and Instagram Live Stream, 15 year old girl murdered.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_uM7F9rCgq0
Kwong, J. (2020, Jan.27). “She Dead Now.” The U.S. Sun. https://www.the-sun.com/news/2222767/louisiana-girls-brag-stabbing-teen-death-walmart/
Ghosh, R. (2021, Jan. 26). “4 Teenage Girls Stab and Kill 15-Yr-Old at Walmart; Horrific Murder Livestreamed on Social Media.” International Business Times. https://www.ibtimes.sg/four-teenage-girls-fatally-stabbing-15-year-old-during-fight-walmart-livestreamed-social-media-55166