SHE lives in a grey concrete
box. It is full of stuffed animal,
toys, family photographs and
trinkets depicting angels. She is
allowed one hour every day for
exercise. She is 24 years old.
She is sentenced to die.
The spartan 3 m by 3.5 m cell
at the maximum security prison
for women in Nashville,
Tennessee, is her last home.
There is virtually no chance that
Christa GailPike, 24, the
youngest woman on America's
death row, will ever leave prison
In 1996, the then 19-year-old
Pike was sentenced to die by
electrocution for an unspeakably
But Pike has a face that
beguiles easily. Catherine Crier,
the host of an American
television news programme
called Fox Files, described her
as having a "sweet voice and
A juror at Pike's trial put it better:
"She has an angel's face and a
Florida, 19-year-old Colleen
Slemmer, was trying to steal her
Those who knew Miss Slemmer
dispute this, but Pike was sure.
In the middle of January 1995,
she told Shipp: "That little whore
has to be taught a lesson."
She and her friend, Shadolla
Peterson, 18, concocted aplan to
lure Miss Slemmer to an
abandoned steam mill that is
part of the University of
The mill is close enough to walk
to, but deep in the woods,
secluded, and away from
civilization. No one was likely to
come upon them. Or hear
On the night of Jan 12, 1995,
she told Miss Slemmer she
wanted to smoke marijuana with
her as a peace offering,to get
things straight between them.
Miss Slemmer agreed to a walk
in the woods. Before leaving,
Pike pocketed a box cutter and a
small meat cleaver.
Pike, Miss Slemmer, Shipp and
Peterson signed out of their
dormitory and headed out to the
mill, walking along a dark
Once they were swallowed up
by the forest and completely
isolated, Pike began accusingMiss Slemmer of trying to sleep
with her boyfriend.
The girl denied it, Pike became
outraged and kneed her in the
face. She pulled out the meat
cleaver and sliced Miss
Slemmer's' stomach, then Shipp
jumped in and gashed her
across the chest.
The victim begged her to stop,
but her cries fell on deaf ears.
The box cutter came out, and the
three others tortured Miss
Slemmer forthe next 30 to 40
minutes, stabbing and slashing
her hundreds of times.
Eventually, the three got bored
with cutting, so Pike and
Shipp held her down and carved
a pentagram, the mark of the
devil, in her chest with the meat
The victim was still alive.
At the end, Pike up a chunk of
asphalt and smashed the girls
head with it, again and again.
And finally, after anhour of
torture she was dead.
Pike reached down fished a
piece of her skull out of the
gaping open hole in her head
and put the blood-soaked
fragment in her jacket pocket.
Court scenes just like TV's
DISTRICT ATTORNEY Jo Helm announced
that her office would seek the death penalty
for Christa Gail Pike. Assistant DA Bill
Crabtree was the other half of the
prosecution's team. The opening gavel was on March 22, 1996.
One of the grimmer aspects of the trial was
Ms Helm and Mr Crabtree's introduction of
victim Colleen Slemmer's skull into
University of Tennessee anthropologist
Murray Marks testified, with skull in hand,
that the fragment found in Pike's jacket fit
into Miss Slemmer's skull like a puzzle
But more dramatic was thetestimony of
the coroner, Dr Sandra Elkins, when she
described the wounds on the body:
"Lacerations of the face and scalp, skull and
facial fractures, lacerations and contusions
of the brain, stab and slash wounds."
Pike cried quietly when Dr Elkins
described the wounds to the skull.
Next, the murderer's cold police station
confession was played to the jury: "I said,
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