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Alyssa Dailen BUSTAMANTE





Classification: Homicide
Characteristics: Juvenile (15) - Thrill killing
Number of victims: 1
Date of murder: October 21, 2009
Date of birth: January 28, 1994
Victim profile: Elizabeth Olten, 9 (her neighbor)
Method of murder: The autopsy revealed that Olten had been strangled, her throat and wrists had been slashed and she'd been stabbed
Location: Cole County, Missouri, USA
Status: Pleaded guilty to second degree murder and armed criminal action on January 10, 2012. Sentenced to life with the possibility of parole on February 8, 2012

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Teen Thrill Killer Alyssa Bustamante Could Get Paroled Some Day

By Alyssa Newcomb -

February 8, 2012

A teenager who slit her young neighbor's throat and called it "enjoyable" may have the opportunity to walk free one day.

Alyssa Bustamante, 18, was sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole in a Missouri courtroom today.

The teen expressed remorse for brutally killing her neighbor, Elizabeth Olten, in October 2009, in what prosecutors described as a thrill killing.

"I know words can never be enough and they can never adequately describe how horribly I feel for all of this," Bustamante said to Olten's mother and siblings, who sat silently. "If I could give my life to get her back I would. I'm sorry."

Bustamante stabbed the 9-year-old girl in the chest, strangled her, sliced her throat and left her in a shallow grave covered with leaves so she could find out what it felt like to kill.

"I just f***ing killed someone. I strangled them and slit their throat and stabbed them now they're dead. I don't know how to feel atm [at the moment]," Bustamante wrote in her diary

She later added: "It was ahmazing. As soon as you get over the 'ohmygawd I can't do this' feeling, it's pretty enjoyable. I'm kinda nervous and shaky though right now. Kay, I gotta go to church"

Elizabeth's mother, Patty Preiss called Bustamante "an evil monster" and said that she "hated her" on the first day of the teen's sentencing hearing.

Prosecutor Mark Richardson had argued for life in prison, plus 71 years, accounting for the years Elizabeth lost.

"These sentences are appropriate and fit what happened to Elizabeth at the hands of a truly evil individual who strangled and stabbed an innocent child simply for the thrill of it," Richardson said in a statement.

The defense cited Bustamante's depression and a suicide attempt as a reason for a reduced sentence.

On the teen's YouTube page, a video appears to show the suspect with her brothers purposefully shocking themselves on an electrified fence. She listed "killing people" as one of her hobbies under her profile.

Her Twitter messages around the time of the murder spoke of "addiction" and "terrors."

One message said, "all I want in life is a reason for all this pain."

"She committed the murder after deliberation, which means cool deliberation or cool reflection on the matter for any length of time," Cole County prosecutor Mark Richardson told the court Wednesday.


Murderous Children: 15 Year Old Alyssa Bustamante Brutally Murdered a 9 Year Old Girl

Elizabeth Olten was beaten, strangled, and had her throat slit by Alyssa Bustamante

By Antonia Monacelli -

Preparing For Murder

When most teenagers have a Friday off school, they sleep in, maybe get together with friends, or bum around the house in pajamas all day. When 15-year-old Alyssa Bustamante of Missouri had a Friday off from school, she spent the day digging two holes in the ground to be used as graves. Then she waited.

Alyssa went on with life as usual, she went to school, she hung out with friends; all the while just waiting for the perfect opportunity to murder. That opportunity came just 4 days later, on October 21st, 2009 in the evening, when her neighbour, 9-year-old Elizabeth Olten was walking home from her friend's house.

Elizabeth was last seen at 6:15pm, when she left her friends house to go home, her house was only a few houses down. Elizabeth was never seen alive again. When she hadn't returned home, the family frantically began looking for her, and called police to report her missing around 7pm. Her family, knowing she was afraid of the dark, and would not have wandered off alone, grew increasingly worried. They knew that Elizabeth would not stay out after dark alone willingly, and they knew they needed to find her. What they didn't know was that it was already too late.

What Happened & Why? "I Wanted To Know What It Felt Like To Kill Someone"

Alyssa, seeing that she finally had the opportunity to kill, took it. She grabbed Elizabeth Olten, beat her, strangled her, and finally, she stabbed her and slit her throat. She then dumped her body into one of the graves she had dug the week before in a nearby wooded area.

Police searched vigilantly for the little girl, including the area where her body would eventually be found, but they found no trace of her. They pinged Elizabeth's cellphone, and though it showed the location as being the woods where her body lay, the police searched the area without locating her, or her cell phone.

In the end, after a letter led police to Alyssa, she confessed. It was Alyssa herself who led police to the grave where the body of the brutally slain girl lay.


The why in this case is really simple, yet really complicated. The simple explanation given by Alyssa herself was that she wanted to know what it felt like to kill someone. The psychological implications of that statement are obvious; normal, mentally stable people, even if they have ever wondered that question themselves, do not go and actually commit a murder in order to find out. What made Alyssa take decide to actually satisfy her curiosity? That answer is a little more complicated.

As usual, it was a case of hindsight. There were clues and warning signs that something was not right with Alyssa. Alyssa had shown signs of psychological problems in the past. She had attempted suicide numerous times, and she was on medication for depression. She had been given both inpatient and outpatient psychiatric care after her last suicide attempt.  She was a "cutter"; someone who generally deals with emotional pain by cutting and inflicting physical pain on themselves, or self-mutilating. Her best friend, when interviewed, claims Alyssa had once told her that she wondered what it would be like to kill someone.

She had many online accounts, but it was noted on her YouTube account in particular that she listed her hobbies as "killing people" and "cutting". Her YouTube account also had what police considered some disturbing 'home movies', including one where she urges her brothers to touch an electrified cattle fence, after doing so herself. Before the clip involving her brothers, Alyssa writes "this is where it gets good; this is where my brothers get hurt".

In addition, neither of Alyssa's parents were around, and Alyssa was in the care of her grandparents. Alyssa was born to a teenage mother, who has a criminal record for petty crimes, drug possession, an a DUI. Alyssa's father is in prison serving a 10-year sentence for assault. Alyssa was described as violent, depressed, and angry. None of these things are an excuse for murder, but we as a society have to question whether something should have been done for Alyssa before this happened. If someone had stepped in, could we have prevented this vicious murder from occuring?

Police have speculated that the reason that Alyssa had dug not one, but two graves, was because she had planned to murder her two younger brothers, but had instead grabbed the opportunity to kill Elizabeth when it presented itself. They feel the YouTube video backs up this theory; she clearly took delight in inflicting pain on her brothers. While there has been no corroboration by Alyssa of this allegation, the question of why there were two graves dug is an interesting one, that we might never know the answer to. Did Alyssa have different targets in mind for her crimes? Would she have killed again, if she had not been caught the first time

The Trial, Verdict & Sentencing

Alyssa was arrested, and charged with first-degree murder in the death of Elizabeth Olten. She appeared in court on November 17th, 2009, where the judge ruled that she should be tried as an adult. Despite her confession to the crime, as well as having led the police to Elizabeth's body, she has entered a plea of "Not Guilty". She is being held without bond.

While in custody, it has been reported that Alyssa has tried to harm herself by cutting herself with her own fingernails. It is said she has been exhibiting signs of anxiety and severe depression in jail, and has been under suicide watch. Due to a motion filed by her lawyer, she has been remanded to a psychiatric institution to undergo evaluation, and receive immediate psychiatric treatment.

A trial start date of May 16th, 2011 has been set for Alyssa Bustamante.  There, she will stand trial charged as an adult with first-degree murder for the horrific slaying of her young neighbour, 9-year-old Elizabeth Olten.

UPDATE: February 8th, 2012

After previous issues that delayed the trial of Alyssa Bustamante, she was finally set to face the murder charges, with a trial due to start in January 30th, 2012. Instead, Alyssa pleaded guilty to the charge of 2nd degree murder and armed criminal action.

There was an audible gasp heard in the courtroom when the now 18-year-old Alyssa admitted to taking a knife to throat of Elizabeth Olten and slitting it, then strangling her with her bare hands afterward. Her defense team tried to offer a number of excuses for what cause Alyssa to perform this horrid, haunting act, including the fact that she was on the anti-depressant "Prozac" as being a contributor, which she had begun taking in 2007 after a suicide attempt, and had started an increased dosage just two weeks prior to Elizabeth's murder. They recounted a family history of drug abuse, suicide attempts, and mental disorders, and said that her mother had abandoned her and her father was in prison, to try to explain the mental state Alyssa was in when she brutally murdered Elizabeth Olten.

Psychologists for the defense described Alyssa as "psychologically damaged" and "severely emotionally disturbed". They testified that she suffers from Major Depression, and also displays symptoms of Borderline Personality Disorder, which is characterized by feelings of emptiness, instability of moods, inappropriate displays of anger, and poor impulse control. Though the details of Alyssa's mental stability were quite disturbing - she had previous suicide attempts, a history of self-harm including over 300 cuts on her body, as well as self-inflicted cigarette burn marks - the most disturbing, and the most damning evidence presented was a journal entry that Alyssa made in her diary after the murder. She wrote: "I strangled them and slit their throat and stabbed them now they're dead. I don't know how to feel atm. It was ahmazing. As soon as you get over the 'ohmygawd I can't do this' feeling, it's pretty enjoyable. I'm kinda nervous and shaky though right now. Kay, I gotta go to church"

After days of very emotional testimony in the court, Alyssa broke down and cried for the first time in over 2 years of court proceedings, while the prosecution was making an impassioned plea for the judge to give her a life sentence. Alyssa, who had been staring at the floor impassively while the prosecution recounted her crime, broke down when grandparents got upset and stormed out of the courtroom. Alyssa's grandparents were not the only ones to have an emotional breakdown; after the judge's announcement that he would hand down a sentence the next day, the grandmother of the victim, Elizabeth Olten, yelled out "I think Alyssa should get out of jail the same day Elizabeth gets out of the grave!".

On February 8th, 2012, Alyssa Bustamante gave a final statement before the judge handed down her sentence; "If I could give my life to bring her back, I would", Alyssa addressed the court, while family members of her victim, 9-year-old Elizabeth Olten, wept, "I just want to say I'm sorry for what happened. I'm so sorry". She was then sentenced to life imprisonment, with the possibility of parole.


Alyssa Bustamante and the Murder of Elizabeth Olten

By Tricia Romano -

A Tale of Two Girls

45 minutes: That's how long Elizabeth Olten was missing before her mother called the police.

That's how long it took Alyssa Bustamante, 15, allegedly to kill her first murder victim, her neighbor Olten.

The most shocking thing of all? Alyssa Bustamante's youth was trumped by her victim's: Elizabeth Olten was only 9.

According to friends, family and neighbors, Olten was all sweetness and light, a little girl made of sugar and spice and everything nice, who loved cats, the color pink, and was a real girly girl.

She had long medium-brown hair, wide-set eyes, and was described a shy girl who "was afraid of the dark and would not normally have gone into the woods," according to the AP, making her disappearance more ominous.

Peggy Florence spoke on behalf of the family: "She was somebody special. They call her a girlie girl. She would be outside in the snow or in the mud in her frilly little dress."Looking at photos from Bustamante's now-defunct Facebook page, one sees a girl hardened beyond her years; pale blue eyes rimmed with heavy black eyeliner, straightened bangs hanging in her eyes and a defiant pout, chin stuck out at the camera. Even in two dimensions, she had attitude and charisma to burn. Like many troubled teens, she was labeled a Goth. In an alternate life, she might have been a star; in this one, she may be one of the most shocking teenage murderers, yet.

She's Just a Small Town Girl

The two neighboring communities from which the girls came in Missouri, St. Martins and Jefferson City, epitomize small-town America. St. Martins, where Olten lived, has just over one thousand people. Everyone knows each other. So when Olten failed to make it home on Wednesday, October 21, from a friend's house just a quarter-mile away, there was cause for alarm.

The search began almost immediately. Though there was a two-lane highway that ran the stretch from the friend that Olten had been visiting to her own house, she had oddly taken a shortcut through the woods, curving around and behind neighboring lawns and backyards. By the time the search started, with the aid of hundreds of volunteers, it was dark and cold, and the weather had turnedit started pouringsearching the woodsy terrain turned into a difficult process. Dave Wininger, a volunteer firefighter who joined in the search for Olten, was quoted by the Associated Press as describing the search area as "brushy" and "hilly." "There's a lot of rocks, trees, and brush piles. It's a very rough place to be," he said.

The searchers included dogs, firefighters, police, helicopters, FBI, and highway patrol. They went over and over the area, but were unsuccessful. Olten's cell phone initially gave them a hint, but by Thursday morning, the battery had died.

A Hint, a Suspect

Until this point, the scenario that the community and the police had feared was that an older male predator had snatched up the girl as she walked home alone through the woods. No one suspected that it was a member of the community, much less a teenage girl. But details began to emerge and rumors quickly spread. A teenager was described as a person of interest. The police had gathered some evidence, writings that led to the teenager. Bustamante didn't show up for school the day after the murderher first and only unexcused absence.

Shockingly, the teenager then led the police to the body. It had been in the very woods they had been searching.

"We had been in that area actually more than once. The body was very well concealed," Cole County Sheriff Greg White told the press.

Juvie or Adult - Male or Female?

For a while, there was public uncertainty as to the gender of the person-of-interest.

Because the town was so small, Cole County Sheriff Greg White declined to give more specifics until it was decided how Bustamante was going to be tried.

"I know that it would be cathartic for the public to know exactly what happened, but the difficulty with that is, we have to maintain a prosecutable case," White was quoted in an AP report. "We're not going to contaminate jury pools or anything else."

Because she was a juvenile, there was a question whether or not she'd be tried as an adult, possible under state law which could then make her eligible for the death penalty. But Missouri has an unusual two-pronged system for dealing with young offenders, one that mirrors Canada's.

Missouri is one of 22 states using a "dual jurisdiction" system. If a suspect is found guilty, then the offender can be held until age 21, when a new hearing is held, and it is determined whether the offender has been rehabilitated or should serve the rest of the sentence.

It was ultimately decided that Bustamante would be tried as an adult. Her defense attorney Kurt Valentine expressed disappointment with the decision, saying, "We are throwing away the child and we are signing a death sentence for Alyssa. She is not going to survive her time in the Cole County jail."

As details of the murder came out, though, it became clear this was not child's play-gone-wrong.

A Dark and Troubled Mind Revealed

Bustamante had reveled in her bad girl image. Her Facebook page bore images of her with red smeared lipstick, designed to look ominously bloody paired with black kabuki-style makeup over her eyes. She gritted her teeth, and made faces when she wasn't pouting like a sexpot. She was known around town as a bit of a bully.

Like many teens, she was deeply involved with social media and had pages on Myspace, Twitter, and Facebook.

She had a YouTube account under the name OkamiKage (Japanese for "WolfShadow") and filled out her profile. Under her hobbies, she listed "killing people, cutting."

She had been treated for severe depression and had tried to commit suicide. Her Twitter account stated that she was "somewhere I don't want to be." On the photo of her with smeared lipstick, she is pointing a finger at her head like a gun; many little red cuts are visible on her inner wrist.

A Tweet a few weeks before the murder read: "This is all I want in life; a reason for all this pain."

Her YouTube account featured several videos of her and her brothers, mostly just engaging in horseplay or mimicking Jackass stunts, but one in particular was disturbing, Idiots Getting Electrocuted by Elecrtric Fence. In it, Bustamante and her two younger brothers are standing in front of an electric fence. She gives the camera a grin and grabs the fence as she grimaces. Well aware of the pain it causes, she nonetheless convinces her younger twin brothers, 9, do the same. The screen reads: "this is where it gets goodthis is where we see my brothers get hurt."

They dutifully follow, ending on the floor, half laughing, half-shuddering.

The Murder and Confession

When Elizabeth Olten left to go home, she'd been playing with Alyssa Bustamante's half-sister, who lived a few doors down. The six-year old and the nine-year old pals hung out, and then, when Olten started her journey home, she was allegedly diverted by Bustamante who called Olten on her cell phone, and redirected her back to Bustamante's house.

Allegedly, Bustamante had then led Olten into the woods. Olten, who was afraid of the dark, would have trusted the older teenthey played together and were friends. But, Olten couldn't have anticipated that she would be brutally killedslashed on the neck and arms and then fatally stabbed.

The young girl's body was found in a grave; Bustamante admitted to digging two graves a week before the murders, giving rise to speculation that her twin brothers were the original intended victims. But a detail from the press conference gave people further pause. When Cole Country prosecutor Mark Richardson was asked why there were two graves, and whether one or both graves had been used for Elizabeth, he said only: "No, I can't tell you that right now."

The autopsy revealed that Olten had been strangled, her throat and wrists had been slashed and she'd been stabbed.

Missouri State Highway Patrol Sgt. David Rice said that Bustamante's motive was simple and terrifying. "Ultimately," Rice told the AP, "she stated she wanted to know what it felt like."

After the murder, a friend of Bustamante's came forward, saying that Bustamante had told her that she wanted to know what committing a murder would be like.

Jennifer Meyer went on KMOV in St. Louis: "I was at her party, and she kind of just took me off to the side randomly and she's like, 'You know, I wonder what it would be like to kill somebody,' because I guess she was mad at one of her friends there, but it just seemed kind of strange," Meyer said. "But you wouldn't logically think one of your friends would kill somebody.

Teen Girls Murderers

Distressingly, there have been other teenage girl murderers, and if Alyssa Bustamante is convicted, she will join the ranks of other infamous female murderesses.

Diana Zamora killed a romantic arch-nemesis, Adrienne Jones in 1995, at the age of 17.

In Australia in 2006, the 16-year-old "Collie Killers," tried murder just for fun, strangling and suffocating their victim.

One of the earliest known teenage female killers, wasn't even a teenager. Mary Bell strangled a three-year old boy and a four-year old boy just for kicks in 1968 at the tender age of 11.

In 1979, Brenda Spencer, 16, bored of Mondays at school, loaded the semiautomatic rifle her father had given her and blazed away, killing two adults and injuring eight children and a cop.

Still, a female offender as young as Bustamante is rare enough that, had it been ruled that she would be tried as a minor, authorities wouldn't have had the right facilities to handle a convicted violent female underage criminal. She would have likely been put in solitary confinement.

All in the Family

Bustamante may never have had a fighting chance to make anything of herself. Bustamante was born to a teenage mother. Her mother had committed some petty crimes involving drug possession, and had been arrested for driving while intoxicated. Her father was in jail, serving a 10-year sentence for assault.

Bustamante had been living under the watchful eye of a guardian since she was seven. She was part of a religious household and had a reputation as a good student, but her psychological difficulties seemingly became too hard overcome.

The Aftermath

Her internal pain continued in the days following the murder. Once it was determined that Bustamante was to be tried as an adult, she became distraught and was moved to Hawthorn Children's Psychiatric Hospital for evaluation. She had tried to cut herself and expressed suicidal thoughts. Her nails were cut because she'd tried using them to cut herself. Later, she was ordered by the judge to Fulton State Hospital for evaluation.

Here state-appointed lawyer also introduced a motion to move the trial. He cited comments on news articles as well as blogs, Facebook, and Myspace, purporting to come from townspeople, most of whom excoriated Bustamante. In the online world, Alyssa Bustamante was already convicted and hanged.

People wrote things like: "What is a shame is that the Murderer did not die when she tried commit suiside when she tried to in 2007."

And: "From what I've heard this girl has had mental problems for some time and has seen counselors or someone in the past."

And: "Either deport her or send her to the gas chamber. One less sicko wasting our tax dollars."

Meanwhile, Elizabeth Olten got the funeral she deservedthat of a princess. A horse-drawn carriage took her casket to the cemetery, where her friends and family wore her favorite color: pink.

Entering a Plea

On December 8, 2009, Alyssa Bustamante walked in shackles and handcuffs into the Jefferson City courtroom wearing a lime green prison jumpsuit. Her brown hair hung in her eyes. Her chin still jutted, but her defiance had been muted by the events of the previous months.

The circus had come to town: reporters were allowed inside.

Even with a confession, Bustamante entered a not guilty plea.

More than two years later, on January 10, 2012, Alyssa Bustamante pleaded guilty to second degree murder and armed criminal action.  Her first-degree murder trial was scheduled to start later in the month; if convicted, she faced life without parole.  Now, having entered a guilty plea, she stood a chance of being released.  The punishment for murder in the second degree can be life with the possibility of parole, or 10-30 years.  The sentence for armed criminal action is three years to life.

After she pleaded guilty, Cole County Circuit Judge Patricia Joyce had Alyssa describe her actions on Oct. 21, 2009. 

"I strangled her and stabbed her in the chest," Alyssa said. When asked if she also cut Elizabeth Olten's throat, she responded, "Yes."

According to her attorney Charlie Moreland, Alyssa decided to plead guilty because "she wanted to take responsibility for it."

On February 8, Alyssa Bustamante was sentenced to life with the possibility of parole.  During a sentencing hearing, forensic consultant Don Locke read aloud to the court a page from Bustamante's diary, dated the day of the Elizabeth Olten's murder.  The entry had been scratched out, but Locke was able to recover it. It read,

"I just f*cking killed someone. I strangled them and slit their throats and stabbed them. Now they're dead. I don't know how to feel ATM. It was ahmazing. As soon as you get over the 'Oh My Gawd. I can't do this' feeling it's pretty enjoyable. I'm kinda nervous and shaking though right now. Kay, I got to go to church now LOL."



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