Today we are talking about the Richardson Family Murders. Marc and Debra Richardson had 2 children. In 2006, their daughter Jasmine was 12 and their son Jacob was 8. They had moved to Medicine Hat, Alberta, Canada from Okotoks, near Calgary, 3 years prior. Their neighbors considered them a quiet, loving, and normal family. One of their neighbors described them as full of life and knew that owning their own home was a lifelong dream of Marc and Debra. Another neighbor said “They are the family we all wished we had.
Debra was the cement who built a pleasant, happy home, and Marc’s only plan in life was to do right by his family. I lived vicariously through those parents and really admired their devotion to family.” Now, that’s not to say that things had always been sunshine and rainbows for the couple. They had actually met in an addiction recovery program when struggling with hard drugs. But by this time they had been married for 15 years and successfully turned their lives around for the better together. Unfortunately, we already know where this is going…
On April 23, 2006, a 6 year old boy saw lifeless bodies on the ﬂoor through the window of the Richardsons home. Police arrived and found Marc and Debra on the ﬁrst ﬂoor where the boy had seen them through the window. Going upstairs, they found Jacob on his bed. Debra had been stabbed 12 times, one of those being 12 cm deep into her heart. Marc had been stabbed 24 times, 9 of which were in the back. Jacob’s throat was slit and he had been stabbed 5 times.
When police realized that there was a fourth member of the family, Jasmine, that was not in the house, they immediately focused on locating her. In the book I read about this case it said that police thought she was either at a sleepover or had been abducted. I couldn’t ﬁnd what led them to think she may have been at a sleepover, but if this was the case they wouldn’t want her to go home and walk into the scene they had found. The other possibility they considered was that she had been abducted and was being held captive by the person responsible for slaughtering her family. Either way, they needed to ﬁnd her ASAP.
Working on the sleepover lead, detectives went by Jasmine’s school to see if they could ﬁnd anything in her belongings that could give them an idea of where she might be. This is when they found a hand-drawn comic strip, and it was concerning to say the least. *Have Tina look at and describe comic strip* (12 panel cartoon strip depicting a family of 3 stick ﬁgures being burned alive while 2 others watched, laughing – page 119 in book). They also found a note that said
“May the hatred and anger built of blazing infernos ﬁll you and overcome you. May the pains of a thousand tortured souls come upon you like scalding blade and eclipse all other noble feeling. May your hopes, dreams and happiness fall into the swirling pit of despair never to return. May your peace of mind and safety be gone to you to be forever afraid and allied. May the black overcome you and the pain never ending. May all you love be stolen and destroyed just out of reach, to never again feel such joys, amen xx.”
A classmate later conﬁrmed that the note was written in Jasmine’s handwriting. Now, I don’t know about you guys, but I was not writing anything close to that when I was 12.
At this point, it’s pretty clear something else is going on and Jasmine is no longer simply missing, but is a murder suspect. Now, the police had already released her information to the media when they thought she was just a missing person, so word was already starting to get around town. Multiple reports came in that she had been at a party with her boyfriend Jeremy Steinke. One of the tipsters told police that Jeremy had talked about the murders saying he “gutted them like a ﬁsh” and that Jasmine talked about how her brother had “gargled” as he was dying.
Jeremy had actually had quite a few run-ins with the police for driving offenses and a sergeant who felt he knew him pretty well by this point said he’d “talked to him a hundred times and never thought he’d be capable of something like this.” However, once police started digging more into Jeremy and Jasmine’s relationship, they started to piece together what had transpired.
To understand, we’ll need to jump back to the beginning of 2006 when Jasmine met Jeremy. Jeremy was a 23 year old who described himself as a werewolf who had lived for 300 years. He had grown up with an alcoholic mother whose partners abused him. He was bullied in school and by the age of 13 he was diagnosed with depression and hyperactivity. At one point, he had also attempted to hang himself. Jasmine had been a church-oriented, honors student who was trying to ﬁgure out who she was. They were both members of an online site called vampirefreaks.com that considered itself a community built to unite acclaimed freaks and vampires. They met at a punk rock concert and she quickly became enamored with him. She started wearing heavy and dark makeup, trying to make herself look older. When her parents found out about the relationship, they were unsurprisingly not okay with it. They grounded her and conﬁscated her computer. She appeared to have changed after some family counseling and convinced them to give her computer back. Unfortunately, this “change” was just for show and she had actually been able to continue communicating with him through email.
Some of the emails she received from him said things like “I miss you more than killing people” and “can we get together and kill people together?” These emails make it sound like Jeremy would be the one to look to murder when Marc and Debra tried to prevent his and Jasmine’s relationship. But then you look at what Jasmine was emailing. She initiated a conversation with Jeremy where she said, “I have this plan. It begins with me killing them and ends with me living with you.” Jeremy responded saying “Their throats I want to slit. They will regret the shit they have done. Especially when I see to it that they are gone. They shall pay for their insulince. Finally, there shall be
silence. Their blood shall be payment!” He also posted on a Windows Live Space,
“Payment! My Lover’s rents are totally unfair; they say that they really care; they don’t know what is going on the [sic] just assume. As their greed continues to consume, she is slowly going insane. She continues to thank that I came, into her life to help her out, and to stop what they keep trying to shout. It’s all total bullshit. Their throats I want to slit. They will regret the shit they have done. Especially when I see to it that they are gone. They shall pay for their insulince [sic]. Finally there shall be silence. Their blood shall be payment!”
This makes it sound like Jasmine initiated the plan to kill her family and that Jeremy was on board with it and is maybe the one that moved the plans forward. *I might bring up how Jasmine had actually talked about their plans with some of her friends, but none of them took her seriously and thought it was all talk – just not sure where it would ﬁt in. Maybe it’s something I can tie in with your thoughts.
Let’s get back to where we left off. At this point, it’s become pretty clear what transpired and police are working hard to locate Jasmine and Jeremy. Like I mentioned before, multiple individuals had come forward with tips and with their cooperation, it didn’t take long for them to be found and arrested.
They were both charged with 3 counts of ﬁrst degree murder. Jasmine initially denied participating in any of the murders, but eventually admitted to killing her brother. She said that she decided to kill him because she thought it would be cruel to make him grow up an orphan. According to what was said at trial, Jeremy wore a neoprene mask and entered the Richardsons home. He stabbed Debra ﬁrst, and as he was stabbing her, Marc heard her screams and came downstairs. Jeremy then proceeded to stab him as well.
It’s not clear whether Jasmine was watching all of this unfold, but Jeremy then went upstairs where Jasmine stabbed her brother. Some sources say she also slit his throat, but others say that part was done by Jeremy. From what I could ﬁnd, neither of them wanted to take responsibility for it and put the blame on the other. When asked why she decided to do this, Jasmine said, “I loved him so much. I thought it would bring us closer together.”Jeremy’s lawyers argued that he was in an alcohol and drug-fuelled haze when he “snapped” and stabbed Jasmine’s parents. They described him as a lovestruck, immature man who would do anything to keep the pre-teen girl’s affection. His friends testiﬁed that he had asked for help to get rid of the Richardsons because he was worried she would leave him if he didn’t. He claimed in his evidence that it was Jasmine who slashed her brother’s throat while he watched from a doorway. Regardless, he was found guilty of all 3 counts of ﬁrst degree murder and was sentenced to 3 concurrent life sentences, with an earliest parole date of 25 years. (A concurrent sentence refers to a type of sentence judges are able to give defendants convicted of more than one crime. Instead of serving each sentence one after another, a concurrent sentence allows the defendant to serve all of their sentences at the same time, where the longest period of time is controlling).
Jasmine was also found guilty of all 3 counts of ﬁrst degree murder and is believed to be the youngest person ever convicted of a multiple murder in Canada. She was sentenced to 10 years and during those 10 years, she was required to spend a minimum of 4 years in a psychiatric facility. You might be thinking that 10 years seems like not enough based on the brutality of these murders, but because of her age at the time of the crimes she couldn’t be sentenced to anything more than that due to the Youth Criminal Justice act. The act states that any convicts who were under the age of 14 at the time they committed the act cannot be charged as adults and can be given a maximum sentence of 10 years.
In 2011, she was put under conditional community supervision and was allowed to attend Mount Royal University in Calgary, Alberta. In 2016, she was fully released and when announcing her freedom, Queen’s Bench Justice Scott Brooker told her “I think your parents and brother would be proud of you. Clearly you cannot undo the past; you can only live each day with the knowledge you can control how you behave and what you do each day.”
She is considered a poster child for rehabilitation and while she seems to have turned things around and moved past what she did as a teenager, many Canadians have differing opinions on her being released. Some of her old neighbors agreed she should be given a second chance, but then there were also people like Sue England who were a bit more skeptical. She said, “how will she continue on with her life with that being a part of her past life? … I have sympathy for her, but you can’t imagine anybody doing something like that.”
Both Jasmine and Jeremy have changed their names. Jasmine’s identity is unknown, which I think is probably for the best as she is trying to live out a normal life. Jeremy now goes by the name Jackson May and has attempted to appeal his sentence, but had no success with that so he is still serving out his time in prison.
Runaway Devil: How Forbidden Love Drove a 12 Year Old to Murder Her Family by Robert Remington and Sherri Zickefoose
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