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Dustin J. LYNCH





Classification: Homicide
Characteristics: Juvenile (15) - Controversy over the video game Grand Theft Auto III
Number of victims: 1
Date of murder: November 2, 2002
Date of arrest: Same day
Date of birth: December 3, 1986
Victim profile: JoLynn Mishne, 17
Method of murder: Stabbing with knife after bashing her with a bedpost
Location: Medina County, Ohio, USA
Status: Sentenced to 20 years to life in prison in 2004

Dustin Lynch is a criminal from Ohio who sparked a large controversy over the video game Grand Theft Auto III when he committed one act of first degree murder, killing JoLynn Mishne on November 2, 2002.

Lynch was to be represented by lawyer Jack Thompson, claiming that he was 'obsessed' with GTA III. Lynch was 15 at the time of the crime and 16 by the time his case came to trial. Thompson, who had advised the Mishne family had wanted to represent Lynch but would, according to Medina County Prosecutor Dean Holman, be faced with deeply conflicting interests if he were to represent Dustin Lynch.

Lynch himself eventually rejected Thompson’s offer, withdrawing his insanity plea. Lynch’s mother, Jerrilyn Thomas, who previously demanded that judge Christopher Collier appoint Thompson to defend her son, said she changed her mind after visiting with her boy in jail, saying, "It has nothing to do with video games or Paxil, and my son’s no murderer".


Boy who killed girl: 'I did her a favor'

Teenager denies video game inspired him to slay friend

December 12, 2003

Though an alleged teen killer claims a popular violent video game had nothing to do with his murdering a young girl, the victim's father and others are convinced Grand Theft Auto III inspired the boy to bludgeon and stab his friend to death.

Dustin Lynch allegedly stabbed JoLynn Mishne in the side with a kitchen knife after bashing her with a bedpost. Her father, Mickey, found her in a pool of blood on her bed with a pile of clothes heaped on top of her.

The then-15-year-old Lynch, a runaway, had been staying with the Mishnes in Medina, Ohio, for about a week after JoLynn, a high-school junior, begged her father to let him stay with the family, the Cleveland Scene weekly reports.

During his week's stay with the Mishnes in the fall of 2002, Lynch reportedly played the video game GTA III for hours at a time. It is a violent crime fantasy in which players earn rewards for assaults, carjackings, and murder, the Scene reports. The game has been highly successful, winning numerous game-of-the-year honors and becoming the best-selling game of 2001.

The violent nature of the game and critics' contention that youthful players act out what they see has fingered GTA III in the Lynch case.

In October, attorney and activist Jack Thompson filed a $246 million lawsuit against Sony Computer Entertainment America Inc., GTA III designers Take-Two Interactive Software and Rockstar Games, and Wal-Mart, in connection with a Tennessee case in which two teenage stepbrothers killed one person and injured another by shooting rifles at passing motorists, the Scene reported. The teens claimed GTA III as inspiration.

"I think the video game industry is about as evil as any entity in America is," Thompson told the paper. "I'm out to take their money from them – and it's blood money, in some of these instances – and give it to the people who have been harmed by them."

Thompson contacted JoLynn's father, Mickey Mishne, upon hearing about the girl's murder. After learning about the game and recalling Lynch's behavior, Mishne became convinced the boy was inspired by GTA III. Lynch's favorite GTA III murder weapon reportedly was the baseball bat.

Mishne likely will be a part of a civil suit targeting GTA III.

"We are on a crusade," he told the paper. "We'd like to see everybody who has one of the [games] turn them in, like they do with rifles and pistols. We want to put them out of business."

Dustin Lynch, sitting in jail awaiting his murder trial, recently responded to several written questions from the Scene.

When asked why he killed JoLynn, Lynch responded, "I killed JoLynn for my own personal satisfaction. I yearn to see blood, it's a need or an addiction and also a fetish. I'm just obsessed with it all."

Though Lynch could possibly benefit from claiming he was a victim of the video game, he is denying that's the case.

"Old man Mishne and whomever else believes that GTA III influenced me to brutaly [sic] kill JoLynn ... they are all idiots!" Lynch wrote to the Scene. "I killed JoLynn Mishne for my own personal satisfaction, not because of a video game," adding that he "did her a favor and satisfied all my needs while doing it!"

Lynch, now 17, claims to have begun thinking about murder at an early age: "Ever since I was 6 years old, I've wanted to kill someone," he wrote. The teen claims to have killed 35 people, though there is no evidence backing up his assertion.

The alleged killer is scheduled to face trial as an adult on Jan. 12 and faces up to 30 years in prison without the possibility of parole.

"The only people I care about is Adolf Hitler and myself! Heil the fuehrer! Hitler is God!" he wrote to the paper.

The young man says he's not afraid of prison, hoping to get his high-school diploma and write a book while there.

"I might be small, but I know how to handle my business," he writes. "I'm a 'Lynch,' it runs through [our] blood. Just like jail!"

Lynch claims he'd like to be executed eventually.

"When my book is complete and I'm ready, I'm going to kill someone else so that I can get the death penalty. I took so many lives and I'm just curious to know what it's like to be dead. Is there an 'after life'? etc. I want to die by lethal injection. I think that is better than any other method (ex. – killing myself, or by some horrible death). …"

The Cleveland Plain Dealer reports Lynch's mother, Jerrilyn Thomas, says in the past two months, her son has attempted suicide at the jail, refused to cooperate with his attorney, wrote incriminating letters to Mickey Mishne and stopped communicating with her.

Asked if he was disturbed, Lynch wrote to the Scene: "I AM NOT DISTURBED AT ALL! Like I said, I have certain needs, desires and a fetish. Cutting myself is a fetish. I feel so powerful when I do it, kind of like I'm on coke. Each slice I take is like hooting another line! I'm fascinated by the sight of blood, and when I'm locked up the way I am the only blood I can get is my own."



Case No. 2003 01 DQ 0067


123 Ohio Misc. 2d 81; 2003 Ohio 2690; 789 N.E.2d 1206; 2003 Ohio Misc. LEXIS 9

May 12, 2003, Decided


 [*1]  Bindover ordered.

COUNSEL:   Anne Eisenhower, Medina County Assistant Prosecuting Attorney, for the state.

John J. Dolatowski, for the juvenile.





JOHN J. LOHN, Judge.

On May 8 and May 9, 2003, this matter came on for hearing before John J. Lohn, Judge of the Medina County Court of Common Pleas, Juvenile Division. The purpose of the hearing was to determine whether the juvenile is amenable to treatment pursuant to R.C. 2152.12.

Present in court were Dustin J. Lynch, the juvenile, Jerrilyn Thomas, the juvenile's mother and David Lynch, the juvenile's father. Attorney John J. Dolatowski of Medina appeared on behalf of the juvenile. Anne Eisenhower, Medina County Assistant Prosecuting Attorney, appeared on behalf of the state of Ohio.

The juvenile is charged with delinquency by virtue of committing the following felonies: aggravated murder by aggravated robbery (with specification), in violation of R.C. 2903.01(B); aggravated murder (with specification), in violation of R.C. 2903.02(A); aggravated robbery in violation  [*2]  of R.C. 2911.01(A)(1); aggravated robbery in violation of R.C. 2911.01(A)(3); felonious assault in violation of R.C. 2903.11(A)(2); and theft in violation of R.C. 2913.02(A)(1).

The offenses allegedly occurred on November 2, 2002. The juvenile's birthday is December 3, 1986.

On January 31, 2003, the state filed a motion to transfer this case to the general division of the court of common pleas. On March 6, 2003, the juvenile waived his right to a preliminary hearing. The court found that the juvenile was fifteen years of age at the time of the offense and that there was probable cause to believe that the juvenile committed the acts described in the complaint.

This hearing is the second of the two-step process required under R.C. 2152.12. There are two issues the court must decide: (1) whether the juvenile is amenable to care or rehabilitation within the juvenile system and (2) whether public safety requires that the juvenile be subject to adult sanctions.

In deciding whether to transfer a juvenile's case to the general division,  [*3]  the court must consider any relevant factors that weigh in favor of transfer and any relevant factors that weigh in favor of keeping the case in the juvenile system.

Jolynn Mishne was a high schooler who lived with her father on Poe Road in Montville Township. She was a sweet, guileless girl. A week before her death, she met Dustin Lynch and took him home. Jolynn's father permitted Dustin to stay at the house and to spend each night with his daughter in her bedroom.

On November 2, 2002, Jolynn was in bed asleep. She was struck senseless and then bludgeoned to death and stabbed to death. The killer left a taunting note to the police and a gruesome crime scene. At the time of the murder, Dustin Lynch was a DYS parolee--a runaway one month shy of his sixteenth birthday. He had insinuated himself into the Mishne home as a false friend. After allegedly killing poor Jolynn, he allegedly stole her car.

The juvenile has had a long, unsuccessful history with the juvenile justice system. His father has been absent most of his life. His mother is an ineffective parent. The male influences in the juvenile's life were his mother's many husbands and boyfriends. These men,  [*4]  with the exception of the current husband, were abusive and demeaning.

The juvenile is intellectually and emotionally capable of overcoming his poor upbringing. He has never shown the slightest inclination to do so.

The court finds the following factors in favor of a transfer pursuant to Ohio Revised Code Sec. 2152.12(D):

The victim of the act charged suffered physical or psychological harm, or serious economic harm, as a result of the alleged act. Jolynn Mishne was beaten to death and stabbed to death. Her car was stolen. She suffered severe economic and physical harm.

The child's relationship with the victim facilitated the act charged. Jolynn Mishne had an affectionate and trusting relationship with the Juvenile. She was emotionally attached to him. She was physically close to him. This relationship made it easier for the juvenile allegedly to kill her and to rob her. She was beaten with a bedpost from her own bed. She was stabbed with a knife from her own kitchen. A stranger did not kill Jolynn Mishne. Someone in her own household killed her, someone she trusted.

At the time of the act charged, the child was  [*5]  awaiting adjudication or disposition as a delinquent child, was under a community control sanction, or was on parole for a prior delinquent child adjudication or conviction. On November 2, 2002 the Juvenile was on parole with the Ohio Department of Youth Services for a prior delinquent child adjudication.

The results of any previous juvenile sanctions and programs indicate that rehabilitation of the child will not occur in the juvenile system.

The juvenile has had the following adjudications and dispositions:

Date Age Offense Disposition
12/10/99 13 Unruly Indefinite Probation
04/18/00 13 Probation Continued Probation
1/29/01 14 Unruly Indefinite Probation
3/6/01 14 Theft Continued Probation
5/29/01 14 Underage  
    Possession Continued Probation;
      Chemical Evaluation
9/14/01 14 Drug Abuse Continued Probation
9/14/01 14 Curfew Continued Probation
      Continued Probation
12/4/01 15 Probation Chemical
      Evaluation, Continue
      with Child-Family Intervention
    Violation Team (CFIT)
3/20/2002 15 Grand Theft Commitment to
      Department of
      Youth Services
11/7/2002 15 Parole Commitment to
    Violation Ohio
      of Youth

[*6]  Between the Juvenile Detention Center, New Horizons Youth Shelter, Lincoln Place, and the Department of Youth Services, the juvenile had been placed outside the home for more than 400 days since his first unruly violation. He failed in outpatient-treatment programs and drug-and-alcohol counseling programs.

No juvenile sanction has deterred this boy. His behavior has progressed from being wayward and truant to committing misdemeanors, committing felony thefts, and now the alleged murder and robbery of a helpless girl.

In this case, no treatment has been successful. Probation Officer Smith testified that services and treatment can only begin when the child is out of detention and compliant with court orders. But the boy immediately violates orders and reoffends. He does not cooperate with treatment.

The child is emotionally, physically, or psychologically mature enough for the transfer. Dr. Lawrence Spoljaric's physical examination indicates that the juvenile presents as a normal sixteen year old with no physical infirmities. The witnesses from Indian River School--Jana Stump, Christine White, and Laurie Adkins--described the juvenile as average  [*7]  in stature and socially interactive. The juvenile is emotionally and psychologically capable of handling transfer to the adult system. Dr. Thomas Evans testified that the juvenile has an intelligent and correct understanding of the adult criminal process. He is "system savvy."

There is not sufficient time to rehabilitate the child within the juvenile system. Dr. Evans testified that the juvenile is one of the most complex individuals he has encountered in his long experience with disturbed and delinquent youths. The doctor testified that the juvenile could be rehabilitated in the juvenile system but only if he were greatly motivated and under optimum conditions at the Ohio Department of Youth Services.

There is nothing in this juvenile's past pointing to a sincere desire to turn his life around.

Dustin Lynch is defiant and hostile. He engages in precocious and unhealthy sexual relationships--without shame. He abuses drugs and alcohol without regret. He commits crimes and violates court orders--without fear of consequences. His bootless father has been missing in action for much of the boy's life. He has just lately shown an interest in Dustin now that  [*8]  he is charged with murder. His ineffectual mother has been distracted by her complicated love life. She never provided the boy with a stable home.

Dustin Lynch is happy when he is having sex, using drugs, or breaking the law. He shows some progress only when he is locked up. He is not well. He is profoundly disordered.

Four and one-half years is not enough time to fix what is wrong with Dustin Lynch.

The court finds the following factor against transfer under R.C. 2152.12(E):

The child has a mental illness or is a mentally retarded person. The juvenile is diagnosed with a conduct disorder, adolescent onset. Dr. Evans explained that the condition is technically a mental illness, but it does not involve psychosis or delusional thinking.

If the murder and robbery had occurred just one month later--December 3, 2002--the Juvenile would have been sixteen at the time of the offense. Because of the severity of the charges, transfer to adult court would have been mandatory upon a showing of probable cause.

WHEREFORE, after considering all of the testimony, the exhibits, and the arguments of counsel,  [*9]  the court finds that the statutory and other relevant factors favoring transfer of this case to the general division of the court are obvious and overwhelming and outweigh, by a great preponderance, those factors against transfer. The evidence favoring transfer is sufficient, strong, and compelling. The evidence favoring retention is speculative, scant, and weak.

This is not a close case.

Dustin Lynch is angry, asocial, brutal, and self-absorbed. He will be a threat to the community long after his twenty-first birthday.

Thus, the court finds that the juvenile is not amenable to care or rehabilitation within the juvenile system, and the safety of the community may require that the child be subject to adult sanctions.

IT IS ORDERED, ADJUDGED, AND DECREED that jurisdiction of this case be and hereby is transferred to the General Division of the Court of Common Pleas. The original case file and all documents, pleadings, exhibits, and other papers shall be delivered to the clerk of courts, pending further action and proceedings by the grand jurors of this county and the judges of the general division of this court. The judges are herewith invested  [*10]  by me--through this order and in accordance with the laws of this state--with the authority to assume and to exercise jurisdiction over this child as if he were an adult.

IT IS ORDERED, ADJUDGED, AND DECREED that in accordance with R.C. 2152.26(F), the Sheriff of Medina County shall take charge and take custody of Dustin J. Lynch from the Superintendent of the Medina County Juvenile Detention Center. The sheriff shall transfer Dustin J. Lynch to the Medina County Jail in accordance with the laws governing the detention of persons charged with crime. The boy shall be confined in a manner that keeps him beyond the range of touch of all adult detainees. He shall be supervised at all times during the detention.

IT IS ORDERED, ADJUDGED, AND DECREED that bail in this matter is hereby set at $ 1,000,000, cash or surety.


Bindover ordered.



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