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Rachel WADE

 
 
 
 
 

 

 

 

 
 
 
Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Teenage love triangle
Number of victims: 1
Date of murder: April 14, 2009
Date of arrest: Same day
Date of birth: February 27, 1990
Victim profile: Sarah Rose Ludemann, 18 (her romantic rival)
Method of murder: Stabbing with knife
Location: Pinellas County, Florida, USA
Status: Sentenced to 27 years in prison on September 3, 2010
 
 
 
 
 
 
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Rachel Wade (born on February 27, 1990) was convicted of murder in the second degree in the high-profile murder of Sarah Ludemann.

Rivalry with Sarah Ludemann

Rachel Wade and Sarah Ludemann were romantic rivals. The rivalry began after Wade's breakup with Joshua Camacho. Camacho began seeing Ludemann, much to Wade's dislike. In the first six months Ludemann was with Josh, the police spoke to Ludemann six times regarding public confrontations with Camacho. She got into a verbal argument with the mother of Josh's child. Joshua punched Ludemann in the face, but Ludemann did not press charges.

Wade left insulting voicemails for Ludemann. Their rivalry became more volatile. They began to harass one another and, according to Wade, Sarah would show up to an Applebees where Wade worked in order to taunt her. During one incident, Ludemann told police that Wade repeatedly called her cell phone and left threatening voicemails. Detectives admitted that Ludemann also made threats toward Wade. The rivalry would continue until Ludemann's death. Ludemann drove to where Wade was located and pulled Wade's hair. Wade's head was looking in the downward position and Wade flailed her arm with a knife. Ludemann was stabbed, resulting in her death.

Murder

On the evening of April 14, 2009, authorities say that Rachel Wade was alone in her apartment waiting for Joshua Camacho. Camacho was watching movies with Ludemann. While Wade was outside walking her dog, she heard a car honk and she stated that Ludemann yelled, "Stay away from my man!" Wade said that she was scared and she decided to call an old boyfriend, Javier. He told her to come over to his house. She got her purse, opened a kitchen drawer and pulled out a steak knife.

At 11p.m., Wade approached Camacho's house. He and Ludemann were inside playing video games. Wade sent Camacho a text message saying, "Now I know why you're not talking to me because you got her." Camacho replied, "That's right. I don't like you no more, why don't you go home?" Wade responded, "No. I'll wait for her to go home." Witnesses later testified that they overheard Wade threaten Ludemann on speakerphone, I'm going to stab you and your Mexican boyfriend." Just before midnight, Camacho's sister asked Ludemann for a ride to McDonald's. Ludemann saw a friend at a stop sign who told her Wade was at Javier's house. Ludemann decided to confront her. As she was driving, Wade called her and yelled, "I'm going to kill you! You and your Mexican boyfriend!" Ludemann arrived at Javier's house and saw Wade speaking with him and their friend Dustin Grimes.

Wade testified that Ludemann slammed on her brakes, nearly hitting Wade and storming out of the car with her fists flailing. Wade said that she was fearful when she stabbed Ludemann's shoulder and chest, striking her heart. However, authorities and the prosecution's witnesses said that Ludemann did not get a chance to leave the van and that it was Wade who approached and attacked Ludemann. Ludemann, clutching her chest, called Camacho to tell him what happened. Camacho ran to Ludemann's home to tell her father. They both drove to the scene. Immediately after the stabbing, witnesses say that Wade threw the knife over a neighbor's house and calmly said, "I'm done."

Police arrived and began questioning Wade and the witnesses. She began to cry when they told her Ludemann died. Hours later, Wade was arrested and charged with murder in the second degree. She was booked into the Pinellas County Jail on $500,000 bond. She stayed there through the conclusion of the trial.

Trial and Conviction

TruTV's In Session and CNN's Headline News televised the trial which began on July 20, 2010 with jury selection. Testimony began on the following day. Prosecutors brought up the history between the two in order to show that Wade intended to kill her rival over Joshua Camacho. The defense argued self defense under the Stand Your Ground law in which Florida encompasses.

Wade's attorney, Jay Hebert, stated that Ludemann was very upset and that Wade was fearful because Ludemann was bigger and her friends outnumbered her. Hebert brought up the Applebees incident in which Ludemann and her friends knocked Wade's tray over, sang Girlfight during karaoke and taunted her. He also stated that the two girls fought before the stabbing and pulled each other's hair. The witnesses who testified for the prosecution were Joshua Camacho, his sister, and Dustin Grimes. Javier testified for the defense. Javier stated that the two fought, but admitted he did not see much of the incident. Camacho's sister and Mr. Grimes testified that Wade approached the vehicle and stabbed Ludemann. The jury heard the voicemails, which Ludemann saved eight months prior, in which Wade stated that she was going to kill her. This ultimately sealed her fate as the jury took three hours to find her guilty of murder in the second degree.

On September 3, 2010, Rachel Wade was sentenced to 27 years in state prison. The judge stated that he believed Wade intended to kill Sarah Ludemann. Wade maintains that she acted in self defense and is currently appealing her case. She is housed at Lowell Correctional Institution Annex. In a March 2011 interview with ABC News, she believes that social media played a major part in the rivalry and murder. She states that it gives people the ability to say whatever they want with very little consequence.

This case has been featured in Dateline NBC in February 2011, Deadly Women in November 2011, Facing Evil with Candice DeLong in December 2011 and on E! Entertainment Special's When Girls Kill.

Charlie Ludemann, Sarah's father, has filed a civil suit against Rachel.

On February 17, 2012, Wade lost her appeal according to online dockets.

Wikipedia.org

 
 

Love triangle killer gets 27 years in prison

CNN.com

September 3, 2010

A Florida judge sentenced Rachel Wade, the 20-year-old woman convicted of second-degree murder for fatally stabbing her romantic rival in a fight last year, to 27 years in prison Friday.

While acknowledging mitigating factors -- primarily Wade's youth and lack of a criminal past -- the judge said her actions were not "unaggravating."

"The murder was no accident," Judge Joseph Bulone said.

Wade went to trial in July, accused of second-degree murder in the stabbing death of 18-year-old Sarah Ludemann. The two women, only teenagers at the time, had fought for months via voicemails, text messages and MySpace postings over their relationship with the same man, Joshua Camacho.

The feud culminated in a fatal confrontation in the early morning hours of April 15, 2009.

After a three-day trial and only two and a half hours of deliberation, a jury of five men and one woman convicted Wade of second-degree murder. Wade had claimed self-defense and hoped for an acquittal or no more than a manslaughter conviction.

A life sentence was recommended by Florida prosecutors. The defense had recommended 15 years, followed by 15 years of probation.

TruTV's "In Session" correspondent Beth Karas spoke to Wade days before her sentencing.

"I think about it every day, regardless if they give me five years or 20 years more than they could give me," Wade said. "I never meant to do it, and I'm still gonna have to live with it, no matter if I'm home or if I'm in prison."

Wade's lawyer told HLN Friday that the sentence was "very fair."

"I just don't think this was a case that called for life," said Jay Hebert.

Hebert said the case is a cautionary tale about the potentially deadly mix of young people and modern communications technology.

"When you start looking at the tragic nature of this, the social networking, the instant messaging, the ability of people to hide behind the screen and make statements and create situations -- it just festered until it bubbled up and exploded into a situation... until two good girls, their worlds collided," he said.

Hebert said Wade has resolved to teach young people about the dangers associated with social networking.

"I don't think we can appreciate how young people talk," he said. "And that's the lesson for parents. Pay close attention to your children. Watch how they talk and who they talk to. Watch their social networking outlets."

"Because it's an explosive situation when when you don't have to be accountable, when you can break up with somebody or ask somebody to prom via text," he said. "There's no face-to-face interaction."

 
 

Florida woman involved in love triangle guilty of murder

CNN.com

July 23, 2010

A 20-year-old Florida woman involved in a love triangle was found guilty Friday of second-degree murder for fatally stabbing her romantic rival in a fight 15 months ago.

Rachel Wade convulsed in sobs as the bailiff read the six-person jury's verdict, which carries a sentence of 20 1/2 years to life in prison. She dabbed her eyes with a tissue, chewed on her lips and brushed her long blond hair away from her face, tucking it behind her ear. Then, accompanied by a guard, she stood and walked out of the courtroom, to be taken to Pinellas County Jail.

Wade testified Thursday that she stabbed 18-year-old student Sarah Ludemann only after she herself was hit three times in the head during the fight. Ludemann, who was unarmed, died at the scene after being stabbed twice in the chest.

The jury didn't buy Wade's claim that she acted in self-defense -- returning its verdict after just 2 1/2 hours of deliberation.

Inside the courtroom, Charlie Ludemann, the victim's father, breathed deeply upon hearing the verdict, then turned to his wife and nodded.

Wade did not appear to look at the dozens of teenagers who sat on her side of the courtroom.

"There's no doubt that both of these families will be devastated for the rest of their lives," defense lawyer Jay Hebert told reporters after the verdict.

He said his client had insisted on a trial and had rejected suggestions she approach the prosecution to discuss a plea bargain. "She wanted to testify her side of the story, and I commend her for that," he said. "The jury made their call."

Hebert described himself as "somewhat shocked," given the short deliberation. "I just didn't think it would be that way," he said.

Wade, at 5-foot-4 and 110 pounds, had no criminal record and testified that she had never been in a fight before. She said she headed to a friend's house with a knife only after being told that 5-foot-9, 166-pound Ludemann was heading to her home.

Instead, Ludemann and her friends found her outside the friend's house. "I didn't think they would attack me if they saw the knife," she said.

She testified that she swung the knife after being hit three times but wasn't aware she had stabbed Ludemann until one of the victim's friends told her so.

"I didn't know where she was stabbed or how severe it was," Wade said. "I was scared."

During cross-examination, Wade -- who worked at a restaurant -- acknowledged Thursday having thrown the knife into a neighboring yard, but said, "I didn't know what happened, and I didn't want anybody else to get hold of it."

Prosecutor Lisset G. Hanewicz was unpersuaded. "Why get rid of it if you are acting in self-defense?" she asked Friday in a closing argument. "She wanted to get rid of the evidence. She showed no remorse. She knew she stabbed her."

Animosity between Wade and Ludemann had gone back months -- and it centered on their mutual love interest, Joshua Camacho, then 20.

In an August 29, 2008, voice mail, Wade can be heard saying, "I'm guaranteeing you I'm going to ... murder you," and in another, she tells Ludemann, "You are a f***ing fat b**** and I'm going to f***ing kill you, I swear on my life," Wade said in a voice mail left for Ludemann.

Another one said, "Josh may have played me, but, b****, I'm going to play your a** out too, so watch."

"Those tapes were our most difficult obstacle," Hebert told reporters afterward. "Those tapes were very powerful."

Wade testified that Ludemann had left similar messages for her, but that she had deleted them.

Camacho testified Thursday that he considered both women "friends with benefits" and wasn't seeing either one exclusively at the time.

 
 

'I never went after them,' love triangle stabbing defendant says

CNN.com

July 23, 2010

A 20-year-old Florida woman accused of fatally stabbing a romantic rival testified tearfully Thursday that she acted in self-defense after the victim and two friends attacked her.

Rachel Wade said she stabbed Sarah Ludemann only after she was hit three times in the head during the fight. Ludemann, who was unarmed, died at the scene after being stabbed twice in the chest.

"I never approached them. I never went after them," Wade told jurors in her second-degree murder trial. "They came to me. I had told her to leave me alone beforehand."

During cross-examination, Wade admitted she threw the knife into a neighboring yard -- but said, "I didn't know what happened and I didn't want anybody else to get hold of it."

"I didn't want anything to be done or anybody to be hurt that night," she said.

The April 15, 2009, killing took place after several months of confrontations over a former boyfriend, Joshua Camacho, via MySpace postings, text messages and voice mails.

In an August 29, 2008, voicemail, Wade can be heard saying "I'm guaranteeing you I'm going to ... murder you," and in another, she tells Ludemann, "You don't know when to stop. You haven't learned your lesson yet, but I'm going to ... teach you."

Camacho testified Thursday that he considered both women "friends with benefits" and wasn't seeing either one exclusively at the time.

Wade, at 5-foot-4 and 110 pounds, testified that she had never been in a fight before. She said she headed to a friend's house with a knife only after being told that the 5-foot-9, 166-pound Ludemann was heading to her home.

Instead, Ludemann and her friends found her outside the friend's house.

"I didn't think they would attack me if they saw the knife," she said. She testified that she swung the knife after being hit three times, but wasn't aware she had stabbed Ludemann until one of the victim's friends told her so.

"I didn't know where she was stabbed or how severe it was," Wade said. "I was scared."

Her appearance followed testimony Wednesday by the two other women in the fight -- Janet Camacho, the sister of Joshua Camacho and a friend of Ludemann's, and Jilica Smith, a friend of Janet Camacho's -- as well as Ashley Lovelady, Ludemann's best friend; and Dustin Grimes, a friend of Wade's ex-boyfriend, Javier Laboy.

Smith and Janet Camacho both testified that while they were driving to a local McDonald's with Ludemann in her minivan, they heard their friend on the phone with Wade and said they heard Wade tell her, "I'm going to stab you and your Mexican boyfriend."

Ludemann grew upset, according to the testimony, and learned of Wade's whereabouts when she happened to pass Lovelady on the road on their way to McDonald's. Lovelady told the women that she had seen Wade at Laboy's house, according to Camacho.

Ludemann then rushed over to Laboy's house, where Wade was at her car with a knife nearby, Janet Camacho and Smith testified. Ludemann pulled her minivan to an abrupt halt, its nose about 5 feet from the front of Wade's Red Saturn, and began to get out of the vehicle, according to testimony.

Within a matter of seconds, prosecutors say, Wade grabbed the knife and approached the driver's side of the minivan and attacked Ludemann between the driver's open door and the minivan. But Grimes, the final witness of the day and who was standing outside Laboy's house when the stabbing occurred, testified that the three women jumped out of the minivan at the same time and approached Wade.

Grimes' testimony, given via videotape from his military posting overseas, could be key to the defense as it seeks to build its case around self-defense.

Prosecutors played the 911 call placed on the night of the incident by Smith, who can be heard screaming that "Rachel just ... stabbed her." Both Smith and Wade wiped away tears as the audio recording was played.

Wade, who was 19 at the time of the killing, faces 20 and one-half years to life in prison if convicted of second-degree murder.

 
 

Trial in deadly teen love triangle opens in Florida

CNN.com

July 22, 2010

Prosecutors in Pinellas County, Florida, on Wednesday sought to convince jurors that a young woman accused of stabbing to death an 18-year-old woman last year did not act in self-defense but intended to attack her because both women were fighting over the same man.

Rachel Wade, 20, is accused of killing Sarah Ludemann in the early hours of April 15, 2009. According to court records, the two women were involved with Joshua Camacho, then 20, and over a period of several months engaged in a series of nasty confrontations over him via MySpace postings, text messages and voicemails.

The situation escalated when the two women confronted one another outside a friend's home. Wade stabbed Ludemann, who was unarmed, twice in the chest, and Ludemann died at the scene.

The defense is arguing that Wade, at 5-foot-4 and 110 pounds, acted in self-defense -- fearing for her safety when she was confronted by Ludemann, 5-foot-9 and 166 pounds, and two other women.

But in the opening day of the trial Wednesday, the prosecution sought to portray Wade as the initial aggressor, who waited for Ludemann with a knife and barely gave her time to get out of her vehicle before attacking her.

Four witnesses to the night of the confrontation testified before the six-person jury Wednesday: Janet Camacho, the sister of Joshua Camacho and a friend of Ludemann's; Jilica Smith, a friend of Janet Camacho's; Ashley Lovelady, Ludemann's best friend; and Dustin Grimes, a friend of Wade's ex-boyfriend.

Smith and Janet Camacho both testified that while they were driving to a McDonald's with Ludemann in her minivan, they heard their friend on the phone with Wade and said they heard Wade tell her, "I'm going to stab you and your Mexican boyfriend."

Ludemann grew upset, according to the testimony, and learned of Wade's whereabouts when she happened to pass Lovelady on the road on their way to McDonald's. Lovelady told the women that she had seen Wade at her ex-boyfriend Javier Laboy's house, according to Camacho.

Ludemann then rushed over to Laboy's house, where Wade was at her car with a knife nearby, Janet Camacho and Smith testified.

Ludemann pulled her minivan to an abrupt halt, its nose about 5 feet from the front of Wade's Red Saturn, and began to get out of the vehicle, according to testimony.

Within a matter of seconds, prosecutors say, Wade grabbed the knife and approached the driver's side of the minivan and attacked Ludemann between the driver's open door and the minivan.

However, Grimes, the final witness of the day and who was standing outside Laboy's house when the stabbing occurred, testified that the three women jumped out of the minivan at the same time and approached Wade. He said the attack occurred between the two cars.

His testimony, given via videotape from his military posting overseas, could be key to the defense as it seeks to build its case around self-defense.

Prosecutors played the 911 call placed on the night of the incident by Smith, who can be heard screaming that "Rachel just ... stabbed her."

Both Smith and Wade wiped away tears as the audio recording was played.

Prosecutors are expected Thursday to play other recordings of threatening voicemail messages left on Ludemann's cell phone by Wade in the eight months before the attack.

In an August 29, 2008, voicemail, Wade can be heard saying "I'm guaranteeing you I'm going to ... murder you," according to testimony at a prior hearing in the case.

The jury will also hear from police officers who responded to the incident, as well as the medical examiner.

Wade, who was 19 at the time of the killing, faces life in prison -- a minimum of 20 and a half years -- if convicted of second-degree murder in the case.

 
 

One teen boy, two teen girls, and homicide

By Lane DeGregory - TampaBay.com

July 10, 2010

Sarah Ludemann couldn't stop crying.

All through lunch that Tuesday, while the other seniors at Pinellas Park High chattered in the cafeteria, Sarah slumped over a corner table, sobbing.

He did it again, Sarah told her best friend.

Her boyfriend, Josh, kept saying she was the only one. He'd been telling her that the whole time they'd been together. More than a year.

But that day she found out he had been hanging out with his ex this girl named Rachel.

All morning, while she suffered through school, Rachel was texting Sarah, boasting that Josh was with her. Again.

I'm so over it, Sarah said.

Amber Malinchock didn't know what to say. For months, Sarah's friends had been telling her to forget about Josh. She deserved better.

But when you're 18 and in love for the first time, you don't listen. Your love becomes your whole life.

Amber tried to get her friend's mind off her problems. She asked Sarah to go to the mall after school, maybe the movies.

No thanks, Sarah said.

She was hoping to see Josh.

About the time Sarah was talking to her best friend, Rachel Wade was at home, talking to hers.

Rachel had the day off from her job at Applebee's. Her friend had come by her apartment to hang out.

He did it again, Rachel said.

Her boyfriend, Josh, had slept over the night before, then bolted. He swore he cared about her, but it didn't feel that way.

Worst of all, she kept finding evidence that he was still seeing his ex this girl named Sarah.

Sarah posted MySpace photos of herself with Josh at the beach. She bragged that she had been with him in New York over spring break.

I can't trust him, Rachel said.

Egle Nakaite didn't know what to say. For months, Rachel's friends had been telling her to forget about Josh. She could have any guy she wanted.

But when you're 19, independent and headstrong, you don't listen. You want to be the one he wants most.

"We didn't know what it was about Josh," Egle would say later. "He just had some kind of hold on her."

That afternoon April 14, 2009 Egle asked Rachel if she wanted to get together later, maybe hit Starbucks.

Rachel said no.

She was supposed to hang out with Josh.

Rachel and Sarah hated each other, saw each other as competition. But they were more alike than either would have liked to admit.

They were raised in the same modest neighborhood in Pinellas Park. They grew up with both parents, hard-working people who cared about their kids. They went to the same school, walked the same halls. Both girls loved the beach and movies and dogs.

Both were blond, outgoing, with wide eyes and loud laughs. Both had MySpace pages.

Sarah Ludemann was tall and big-boned, a good student who seldom broke her 11 p.m. curfew. A tomboy. A daddy's girl.

Rachel Wade was petite and flirty, the kind of girl boys noticed. Never much of a student, she dropped out of school in 10th grade, got her GED and worked as a waiter, earning enough to rent her own apartment. On her MySpace page, she called herself "Independent Chic."

But the main thing Rachel and Sarah shared was Josh Camacho.

He was "My boo."

"My baby."

"My man."

Two girls' one and only.

Josh had curly hair, the color of coal, spilling across sculpted shoulders. Black eyes, a long nose, wide lips curled into a sneer. His dark jeans hung low on his slim hips. He stood about 5 feet 5, but walked with the swagger of a bigger man.

Josh loved posing for cell phone portraits: flexing his biceps, waving a gun, showing off the tattoo that arcs across his back in inch-high Gothic letters: CAMACHO.

While seeing both Sarah and Rachel, Josh kept up a relationship with a third teenager, a girl he called "my baby mama." They'd had a son together. He spent time with the baby but didn't pay child support.

For a while, in high school, Josh cooked at Chick-fil-A and Pollo Tropical. But after graduation, he didn't go to college, didn't have a steady job or a car.

At 19, he stayed with family. Except when he persuaded some girl to let him spend the night.

"A player," police called him.

"A user," girls said.

The battle over this boy started with Silly String, escalated to profane tirades and ended in tragedy. The story is documented in text and voice mail messages, in cell phone pictures, in Web postings, in reams of documents filed in the inevitable criminal case. The sad, sordid details can be filled in by talking to the girls' friends and devastated parents.

Experts say teenage girls crave approval, that they want to be special, that their feelings are often too intense for them to handle. They don't feel in control of anything, and they yearn for power over their lives.

"So," said Dr. Mitch Spero, a Plantation psychologist who specializes in teens, "when they finally feel like they belong to someone, or that someone belongs to them, it comes down to ownership."

A love triangle can turn into a property dispute.

Experts also know this about girls: They almost never kill each other. Girl-on-girl assault has risen, but homicide among females remains the rarest of crimes. According to the Justice Department, there were 6,940 homicides in the United States in 2008. Only 200 involved women killing women.

Boys tend to kill while committing other crimes, like robbing a store or selling drugs.

For girls, murder is personal.

"Girls are much more likely to kill over relationships: their parents, siblings, boyfriends," said University of South Florida criminology professor Kathleen Heide.

"When a teenage girl feels another girl is intruding on her territory, when she feels someone is disrespecting her, those are the things that upset them most."

Josh Camacho may have understood this. Though he later denied saying it, his girlfriends remember him declaring, "If you love me, you'll fight for me."

On April 14, 2009, Sarah wanted to be with Josh. And Rachel wanted to be with Josh.

By the end of that warm spring night, one of the girls was in jail, facing life in prison.

And the other had bled to death in the street, only a few blocks from home.

Sarah Ludemann lived in the same house her whole life, a single-story lime stucco with a wide porch fringed with wind chimes. Her parents had moved from New York to Florida to live somewhere warm and safe.

They waited 16 years to have their only child.

Sarah's mom, Gay, is a surgical nurse. Her dad, Charlie, drives a taxi.

Sarah was her dad's sidekick. He took her to karate classes, Lightning games, Keith Urban concerts. She rode beside him in his cab, blaring the radio, singing country songs.

"Sarah loved to sing and dance," said Danielle Eyermann, her friend since preschool. "She was always making up these crazy moves, pretending she was Britney Spears."

By eighth grade at John Hopkins Middle School in St. Petersburg, many of Sarah's friends already had boyfriends. Sarah had crushes on musicians and Rays players, but that was it.

Her friend Amber said, "Sarah never needed a guy to make her happy."

Rachel Wade's mom is an assistant teacher at an elementary school. Her dad drives trucks for a food distributor. Rachel grew up with an older brother in a new brown house with a pool. Her home was a bike ride away from Sarah's, though they didn't know each other as kids.

Rachel was a happy child, her parents said. She loved reading, playing princess and sketching Disney characters.

"She was always making friends and commanding attention," said her mom, Janet. "All the girls wanted to be like her. All the boys liked her."

Rachel's best friend, Egle, described her as fun, girly. "People sometimes thought she was prissy," Egle said. "But she wasn't, once you got to know her."

Rachel was in elementary school when a new boy joined her class. His family had just moved to Florida. His dad was from New York, mom from the Dominican Republic. He had six brothers and a sister.

And dark curly hair.

Sarah started high school at Tarpon Springs to attend its program in veterinary medicine.

She had to get up in the dark and ride a bus more than an hour to get there. At the end of the day, other girls had guys to walk with them. But at 16, Sarah still didn't have a boyfriend. Her dad was always waiting at the bus stop.

The summer after 10th grade, Sarah and Amber spent a lot of time going to the movies and eating at Chick-fil-A. One afternoon, a boy who cooked chicken came out of the back on his break. He smelled like french fries. He waved to Sarah, Amber said. Then he winked.

"She just fell in love with him, right then," Amber said.

He said his name was Josh. Soon, he would be a senior at Pinellas Park High.

Two months later, Sarah told her parents she wasn't sure she still wanted to be a veterinarian.

She didn't know what she wanted to do, really. Except transfer to Pinellas Park.

While Sarah was dancing with her friends and riding in her dad's cab, Rachel was busy with boys. By high school, her parents said, social life had trumped school. She started challenging them, insisting she didn't need their rules.

When Rachel was 15, police came to her house because she and her dad were fighting. "She had a 10 p.m. curfew, but she wanted to stay out all night," said her dad, Barry. "I kept telling her nothing good ever happens after midnight."

Rachel ran away all the time, sometimes sneaking out her bedroom window. She slept in strangers' cars, in lounge chairs at apartment pools. She was only 15 when police caught her in a car, in the school parking lot, with a 19-year-old. They charged him with a felony sex offense.

One night, Rachel and her mom were fighting about her boyfriend, according to a police report. Rachel opened a kitchen drawer and pulled out a Pampered Chef knife.

"She didn't point it at me," her mom said later. "She took it with her and ran into the bathroom."

In her sophomore year, Rachel ran away 14 times and dropped out of school. Her parents took her to counseling, drove her to work at a doggie day care.

At a party, she ran into Josh. It had been years since she'd seen him. He looked good. Not the schoolboy she remembered.

She stopped in to see him at Chick-fil-A.

Josh and Sarah flirted through the summer. But that fall at Pinellas Park High, he would hardly acknowledge her. He would just cut his eyes at her, Amber said, tip his chin.

In November, they finally got together. But even then, "he would never hold her hand or walk with her, claim her in front of other people," Amber said. "When they were alone, he was all over her."

Everyone said Josh was Sarah's first kiss, her first boyfriend, her first everything. He made her feel beautiful, like she mattered.

But her friends were worried. The first sign was when Sarah started wearing pants. Sarah always wore shorts. Even in winter.

"Josh didn't want other guys to see her legs," Amber said. "He started telling her who she could hang out with, who she could talk to."

Sarah started spending all her time with Josh. She was so scared of losing him that she was losing herself.

"She knew he was owning her, but she never thought to leave him," Amber said. If she'd had other boyfriends, she would have known how it feels to break up and get over it.

"But when your first love is at 18," Amber said, "things get epic."

Josh saw himself as tough and streetwise. Sarah pretended she was too. On her cell phone, she stored photos of Josh apparently smoking pot, Josh waving a gun. She downloaded hip-hop songs like Stop Callin' Me and Chopped N Skrewed.

She begged her dad for a pit bull. "You gotta be joking!" he remembers saying. He referred to Josh as "the rat." He kept telling her, "That boy is no good."

"But she was in love," Charlie Ludemann said. "You can't do nothing about a teenage girl in love."

He couldn't keep Sarah away from Josh, so he invited Josh over for dinner, took him to ball games. To keep an eye on him.

"Don't let nothing happen to her," he said.

Sarah had never been in any kind of trouble, but now that started to change.

In the first six months she was with Josh, police interviewed her six times, all over public confrontations. She and Josh screamed at each other at intersections. Yelled at Josh's baby mama in the parking lot of the movies. Once, Sarah said Josh had punched her in the face and he admitted it. Her parents wanted her to press charges, but Sarah wouldn't.

The next time her name was in a police report, Rachel's was in it too.

For months, Rachel and Josh were on and off. She knew he had other girls. That's why they kept breaking up.

Rachel's MySpace photo showed her sprawled on her back, her highlighted hair circling her head like a halo. She wrote: "i've heard that I come off as a bitch or intimidating, but trust me, the moment you start to get to know me, you'll realize it's a total misconception."

When she turned 18, she got a job at Applebee's and her own apartment. Josh started sleeping over. That changed things between them. He sponged off of her, Rachel's friends said. She got attached.

"She would always tell us how he kept cheating on her," said her friend Egle. "Nobody understood why she liked him."

A few months after Rachel and Josh started dating, she saw a photo on MySpace: Josh with another girl. A tall, big-boned blond beaming as if she owned him. The name tagged on the picture: Sarah Ludemann.

Rachel wrote to Josh in her MySpace blog on June 17, 2008.

"When we first met I was madly in love . . . but since then things have changed . . . You called me names, you slept around . . . I deserve so much better!"

Soon a comment appeared under Rachel's post. It suggested that Josh had "found better."

It was from Sarah.

Somehow Rachel got Sarah's phone number. She left a message on her voice mail. Sarah played it for her friends.

"You're f------ with me when you f--- with Josh," Rachel snarled. "Seriously, . . . I'm letting you know now you're either going to get f----- up or something of yours is. Stop being a bitch!"

Sarah wasn't cowed. She and her friends started eating at Applebee's, sitting in Rachel's section. They would harass her, bump into her while she was holding heavy trays.

Rachel left more phone messages for Sarah, called her fat and pathetic. Why would he want you, Rachel chided, when he could have me?

Late one night, a car pulled up next to Rachel at the Taco Bell. Three girls started shooting Silly String at her. One, Rachel told the cops, was Sarah.

Josh and Rachel kept hooking up. But now, instead of just spending the night, he moved in. And he kept seeing Sarah.

Instead of getting angry at him, the girls went after each other.

One time, according to Rachel's friend Egle, Sarah drove past Rachel's apartment and shouted, "Come fight me."

Sarah told police Rachel called her 20 times in two hours, threatening her. When the cops talked to Rachel, she said Sarah sent her nasty e-mails.

Neither girl had thrown a punch or drawn a weapon, so the cops let it go. Sarah's dad thought it would blow over. Rachel's mom told her, "Don't let it get to you."

The parents didn't know how bad things had gotten.

Voice mail from Rachel to Sarah, Aug. 26, 2008: I'm guaranteeing you I'm going to f------ murder you."

Technology made all this easy, and made things worse.

You can say anything you want in a voice mail or a text message, without having to face the person you're insulting. You can deliver your rant right away. And the recipient can replay it again and again, reopening the wound each time. Sarah did that.

When a feud plays out on the Internet, where everyone can see it, "that only fuels the feelings," said Heide, the USF professor who wrote Young Killers.

"The public challenge cannot be shrugged off," she said. "The girl feels compelled to strike back: I'm hurting, so I want her to hurt too."

April 14, 2009.

When Sarah's dad picked her up at school, her eyes were swollen again. She had been crying every day for two weeks.

He tried to hug her, but she pulled away. In the last six months she had lost 30 pounds.

As soon as she got home, Sarah logged onto MySpace and saw Rachel's last login:

Mood: Lovin my boo :)

Was that a taunt? Was he still with her? Sarah texted Josh.

1:06 p.m.: "Whatever Josh, you get so mad at me for everything but you don't give a s--- when she puts something up or says something. You always believe her."

1:08 p.m. "It's like no matter what I do she's always that much better."

1:13 p.m. "All we fight about is her or something that has to do with her, and it sucks. I hate fighting with you . . . I love you so much, but this s--- hurts."

Hours passed. Sarah tried again.

6:36 p.m. "You say you love me, but you don't even have the decency to text me back?"

Finally, at 8:02 p.m., Josh typed, "Bring the movies."

Sarah borrowed her mom's minivan to drive the two blocks to Josh's sister's house. Before she left, she updated her MySpace:

iloveyoubaby.

Across town, Rachel was at her place, waiting to see Josh. She didn't know about Sarah and her movies.

Just about dark, while walking her dog, she heard a car honk. Rachel later told police she saw Sarah cruising by in her mom's minivan. Sarah yelled, "Stay away from my man!"

Rachel said she was scared. She called an old boyfriend, Javier, and told him she didn't want to be alone. Could she come over?

She got her purse, slid open a kitchen drawer and pulled out a steak knife.

Talk to the girls' friends and you start to understand what was going through their minds.

Sarah didn't feel she was worthy of Josh. Without a job or a car, how could she compete? Plus, she told her friends, she still had a curfew!

Rachel is so much prettier, she thought.

But she had already given everything to this guy her senior year, her heart, her virginity. If he didn't want her anymore, who would?

Rachel was cocky. How could Josh want anyone else? Look at her, she had her own car, her own apartment.

She was so much prettier than Sarah.

Plus, she had known Josh forever. He knew her true self, and she knew him. Of course she was better than that fat loser.

About 11 p.m., the time Sarah was supposed to be home, she and Josh were playing Wii at his sister's house when headlights pierced the windows.

Josh recognized the car: Rachel's red Saturn.

"Now I know why you're not talking to me because you got her," Rachel texted Josh.

"That's right," typed Josh. It's a wonder he had the dexterity: By then, he later admitted, he had thrown back five vodka shots and smoked seven White Owl blunts of marijuana.

"I don't like you no more. Why are you down this street? Go home."

"No. I'll wait for her to go home," Rachel texted back.

Sarah had already busted curfew. Her dad texted, "When?"

Sarah typed back, "Soon."

Sarah waited until the headlights faded. She watched Rachel drive away.

Just before midnight, Sarah told Josh goodbye. As she was leaving, Josh's sister and her friend asked for a ride to McDonald's. So Sarah loaded them into the minivan.

On the way, Sarah passed a friend at a stop sign. "Guess who I just saw?" her friend said. "Rachel."

She was at a boy named Javier's house, just a few blocks away.

Sarah sped down the two-lane street. Her cell phone rang. She recognized the number and switched to speaker phone.

"I'm going to kill you," Rachel shrieked. "You and your Mexican boyfriend."

Sarah saw Rachel outside a white house, leaning against her car, talking to two boys. She slammed to a stop. Left the keys in the ignition, the engine running. Slid out of the driver's seat in her flip-flops. Didn't even close the door. She raced toward Rachel, fists flailing.

Rachel ran into the road. Raised her right hand. With a quick thrust, she jabbed Sarah's shoulder. The next time, the steak knife punctured Sarah's heart.

Clutching her chest, Sarah staggered back to the minivan. By then, Josh's sister had climbed out. "Get back in," Sarah wailed. "We gotta go!"

She collapsed in the driver's seat. Fumbled for her cell. Her hands were sticky with her own blood. She called Josh. "It hurts," she gasped, sliding into the street.

Rachel tossed the knife onto the roof of a neighbor's house. Her phone rang.

Josh.

"Where you at?" he demanded. She told him.

He ran the two blocks to Sarah's house, told her dad she had been in a fight. Together, they drove to the street where the minivan was still idling.

Sarah was sprawled by the curb, surrounded by paramedics.

Her dad rushed to her. Cops pulled him back. "I knew she was dead," Charlie Ludemann said later. "I knew there was nothing anyone could do."

He drove Josh to the hospital, but Josh refused to see Sarah. By the time her parents saw her body, Josh was gone.

Back at Javier's house, police found Rachel sitting on a bench, smoking a cigarette, nursing a fat lip. Josh's sister had jumped her, she said, scratched her back and beaten her with a sandal.

Eventually she told them about the knife. Rachel said Sarah had been harassing her for months. She knew she was going to be attacked. She was trying to defend herself.

The questioning continued at the police station. Rachel had seen the ambulance whisk Sarah away. But she didn't know how badly Sarah was hurt. And she didn't seem ready for it when the detective told her.

"Sarah is dead," he said. "You killed her."

Rachel began to sob, and couldn't stop.

Sarah Ludemann's funeral was a month before the high school prom. More than a year later, her parents keep her bedroom a shrine to her. Everything is just as it was, except that her dad destroyed the pictures of Josh.

Rachel Wade has been in the Pinellas County jail for 15 months. Her trial for second-degree murder is scheduled to begin Tuesday. Rachel's lawyer says she acted in self-defense. She's facing up to life without parole.

If she ever gets out, she wrote to friends, she's going to marry Javier.

As for Josh Camacho, he wasn't allowed at Sarah's funeral. He has never visited Rachel nor written to her.

Police say his parents shipped him off to relatives in New York.

"He don't live here no more," his mom said when called at her Pinellas Park home. She wouldn't say where Josh was.

"Everyone already put his reputation down so bad, told so many lies about my boy," she said. "I don't have nothing to say."

A New York cell is listed in Josh's name. When a reporter called, a young man answered, then hung up. Three times.

In a sworn deposition, Josh said yes, he got around. Yes, he was sleeping with both girls, and with his baby mama. But they were not his girlfriends. "Just friends with benefits," he kept saying.

"Okay," the defense attorney said. "Now, you indicated that you thought that Sarah loved you. . . . Did you love her back?"

Josh hesitated, then said softly, "I think I did."

Times researcher Caryn Baird contributed to this report.

 
 

Teenage Love Triangle Turns Deadly

By Marc Dorian - ABCNews.go.com

November 18, 2010

It's the familiar tale of a love triangle but with contemporary complications: Two teenage girls, each jealous of the other's relationship with the same boy, lash out at one another through cell phones and the Internet -- a feud that, though largely played out in cyberspace, resulted in a deadly face-to-face confrontation.

One of the girls, Sarah Ludemann, grew up in a working class neighborhood in Pinellas Park, Fla. She was considered a late bloomer when it came to boys, until, when at age 17, she walked into a Chick Filet restaurant where Josh Camacho worked.

"He poked his head out the back 'cause he was working in the back and he just kind of winked at her," Ludemann's friend, Amber Lee Ayala, said. "She wanted to know him."

Camacho paid attention to Ludemann and called her pretty, but pictures on her cell phone showed Camacho had a dangerous, edgy side: He could be seen flexing his muscles, waving a gun and boasting his name tattooed across his back.

From the get-go, Ludemann's parents weren't impressed.

"There was always something about him that kept you thinking, was he good, was he bad?" said her mother, Gay Ludemann.

It turns out they had reason to worry. Camacho was dating another girl, Rachel Wade, at the same time.

At 19, Wade, who also grew up Pinellas Park, was more independent than Sarah. She had a job, her own apartment and more experience with boys. But she, too, friends said, was attracted to Camacho for his "bad boy" ways.

Camacho kept his two girlfriends in the dark about each other as the family and friends of both girls began to see them change -- they were acting and dressing differently. Camacho insisted they wear long pants, despite Florida's oppressive heat, to keep other guys from looking at their legs. He even told the girls which friends they could be with and when.

"I would see her, and she didn't look like Sarah. She didn't dress like Sarah," said Danielle Eyermann, another friend of Ludemann's. "Even parts of her didn't act like Sarah anymore."

Ludemann's parents grew even more concerned when they noticed bruises on their daughter. They said she told them the marks just came from "play fighting."

Wade's friend Lindsey Atticks said Wade told her that Camacho had threatened her with a gun.

"He held the gun out and said, 'You will never leave me, you will never leave me,'" Atticks said.

'My Man, Not Yours'

"If he said something to Rachel, that's what she had to do," said Stephanie Pilver, another friend of Wade's. "He is very controlling, and I think to a point she felt like maybe that's what she deserved. ? Maybe she should be with him because maybe he is doing that to her, and it's her fault that he is treating her like that."

It didn't take long before Wade and Ludemann found out about each other. Camacho brushed it off, calling them "friends with benefits."

Both girls' friends urged them to end their relationships with Camacho, but they didn't listen. Ludemann lost 30 pounds and was losing herself in Camacho, friends said.

"She couldn't help it. She wasn't willing to let him go," Ayala said.

The tipping point came when Ludemann posted a picture on the social networking site MySpace. It was of herself and Camacho on a trip to New York. Wade was devastated

It was "obviously to make sure Rachel saw them," Atticks said. "[Sarah Ludemann] messaged her and said, "Oh, how do you like my new pictures? That's with my man, not yours."

Angry and dejected, Wade used MySpace to lash out at Camacho.

"I deserve so much better," she wrote on her page.

But the message prompted a taunting post from Ludemann, who wrote, "You think you can find better?"

Enraged, Wade dialed Ludemann's cell phone, leaving an angry, profanity-laced message.

The taunting went back and forth for months on MySpace, text messages and voice mail. The technology made it all too easy to lash out, but it also made it worse.

It was Ludemann who first took the feud offline and started to harass Wade at work. Pilver said Ludemann and her friends would visit the restaurant Wade worked at so they could trip her while she was carrying beer or complain that she spit in their food.

Camacho seemed to enjoy the two women vying for his affection. He even encouraged them to go to battle for him.

"Josh would say, Well, if you want to be with me, then you'll fight with her for me," Atticks said.

On April 14, 2009, the wheels for a face-off were set in motion. Camacho sent a text message to Wade, asking to see her that night. But soon after, he sent another message, canceling the get-together. Wade suspected Ludemann was the reason.

The Fight

Wade "called me and she was bawling," Atticks said. "She told me, 'I think Josh is with Sarah. I am so upset. He ditched me again for her."

Shortly after dark, according to Wade's friends, Ludemann pulled up outside Wade's apartment, honked the horn and drove off.

In fear, Wade called an ex-boyfriend, Javier Laboy, who invited her to seek refuge at his home.

As Wade hurried out of her apartment, she paused in the kitchen for a moment and made a fateful decision: She grabbed a steak knife.

"She was afraid that they were gonna, you know, show up (again) and ... she had no way to defend herself," Laboy said.

On the way to Laboy's, witnesses said Wade took a detour to spy on Camacho. And from her car, she allegedly sent a text to Camacho, saying, "Now I know why you're not talking to me because you have her."

Camacho texted back, 'That's right. I don't like you no more."

Wade left to find comfort at Laboy's house. Ludemann, on a tip, found out where Wade was, and decided to confront her face to face. She raced off in her minivan toward Laboy's.

"We hear a car screeching around the corner. If she would've gone any faster she would've tipped that van," Laboy said. "By the time we realized what was going on, Sarah had already jumped out of the car, grabbed Rachel's hair. She was punching. Rachel's arms were flying everywhere."

After seconds, Wade and Ludemann separated. Ludemann, bleeding from a gaping wound, staggered back toward her minivan and collapsed. Wade calmly walked back toward Laboy's house, tossing the knife onto a neighbor's roof.

Wade had "such a blank look on her face," Laboy said. "It didn't look like she was there with us."

When police arrived, Ludemann was lying on the ground with barely a pulse. When her parents and Camacho arrived at the scene, she was surrounded by paramedics.

Her father, Charlie Ludemann, confronted Wade, whom he said he saw sitting at the scene, smoking a cigarette.

"I said, Rachel, why -- you stupid bitch, you couldn't fight with your hands. And Sarah's layin' there in a puddle of blood," he said.

Wade, he said, didn't answer.

The doctors struggled to save Sarah Ludemann, but her wound was too massive. At 2:29 a.m., the teenager was pronounced dead.

On Trial for Murder

Ludemann's parents went to see their daughter as doctors worked to revive her, but Camacho, they said, stayed in the waiting room.

"I said to Josh, "I gotta go see Sarah. You ought to come," Charlie Ludemann said. "[He said] 'No, I can't see her like that.' And I told him, 'You're the reason she's like that.' And then I left."

Camacho was banned from the funeral.

Police arrested Rachel Wade for the murder of Ludemann soon after her death. This past July, at age 20, Wade went on trial.

Camacho was among 12 witnesses to testify. He conceded that Ludemann and Wade had fought over him but said little else otherwise.

"There was this young ? petite man that would come into court wearing a coat and tie, but he certainly was somebody who wanted to be tough, wanted to be the puppet master and tell these girls what to do and how to do it," said Wade's defense attorney, Jay Hebert.

Wade was the last to testify. The teenager told the court that she was just trying to defend herself.

Prosecutors weren't buying it: They played a threatening voice mail message that Wade had left for Ludemann. Wade said, "Now your ass is mine, and I am guaranteeing you I am going to f--king murder you. I am letting you know that now ... you're a f**king fat bitch, and I am going to f**king kill you, I swear on my life."

Wade told the court that Ludemann had also threatened her.

"Nobody really ever approaches people anymore and just talks to them," Wade said.

"So everybody goes out there and takes a knife and stabs people in the heart," prosecutor Lisset Hanewicz replied. "That is what happens?"

The jury needed only 2 hours to reach a verdict. They found Wade guilty of second degree murder. She was later sentenced to 27 years in prison, where she remains today.

Wade told "20/20" that she now talks to Ludemann, asking for her forgiveness.

"I wish that we could have sat down and talked," she said, "and that I wish that, you know, both of us could have been smart enough to just walk away and to realize we deserve better."

 

 

 
 
 
 
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