Beyond Evil | The Murder Of Jessica Lunsford

(Left: John Evander Couey. Right: Jessica Marie Lunsford. Picture credit: thecriminaljournal.com)

This case breaks my heart and makes me sick, it's a wonder why I have decided to cover it on my blog but I feel that I owe it to beautiful little Jessica to share her story which sadly a lot of people don't know about. This case haunts me ever since I first stumbled across it years ago. I read about the horrific details about what happened to this child and the crime scene afterwards, it has left me with the most heartbreaking and horrendous visions of what this poor angel went through. I have been able to try and put it to the back of my mind but recently I saw a picture of a toy dolphin and it made me think of Jessica and I felt it was my duty to share her story, for her to be remembered.

The details in this case are horrendous and involve child sexual abuse and child murder. I have tried to be sensitive where I can with the details. Please bare this in mind and feel free to skip this post if you feel it is too difficult to read on.

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Let's begin...

Jessica Marie Lunsford was born on the 6th of October 1995 in Gastonia, North Carolina. She was a beautiful young girl with long brown hair and the cutest brown eyes, she loved school and was a well manned student who was liked by staff and fellow pupils. She loved singing songs and spending quality time with her father who would often take her out for rides on his motorcycle which was one of her favourite things to do. Her family didn't have much money and Jessica lived with her father and his parents in a trailer home (in Homosassa, Florida) but they did their best with what they had and Jessica was a daddy's girl and one of her favourite possessions was a stuffed dolphin toy that her father gave her, she took it everywhere with her. Jessica didn't have much contact with her mother who had split up with Jessica's father Mark and moved away, married and had another child so her father and her grandparents meant the world to her.

(Jessica with her father, Mark. Picture credit: morbidology.com)

Being so young and just starting to learn about life, she wasn't quite sure what she wanted to be when she grew up, she told people she might want to become a singer or a fashion designer but she hadn't made up her mind. Jessica was a well behaved child and would attend church every Sunday without bother, she would be up early and dressed, ready for the day.

She was a bubbly child and family pictures show that she was always having fun, dressing up and smiling for the camera. Jessica seemed to have the world at her feel and a bright future lay ahead for this creative, bright and beautiful young girl but at 9 years old, every parents worst nightmare and one of the most evil things to have ever happened, happened to little Jessica Lunsford.

On the 24th of February 2005, Jessica's father was up early to get ready for work and noticed that Jessica wasn't in her bedroom. He noticed that her school uniform was still on the chair all folded up and she was nowhere to be seen, understandably he was in a panic wondering where his daughter was and the authorities were alerted. Straight away, the police, the neighbours as well as other volunteers were out searching for Jessica but could not find a trace of her anywhere.

The family had a habit of leaving the front door unlocked at night. There are a lot of people who do this even to this day because they feel that their neighbourhoods are safe or they don't know any different because that is how they were brought up. In the early hours of the 24th of February a disgusting predator by the name of John Evander Couey came into the trailer whilst everyone was asleep (he claimed he was trying to burgle the house and spotted Jessica who he originally thought was 6 years old as he'd seen her playing outside a few times) and woke up Jessica and told her to come with him. She was dressed in her Pyjamas and was holding her most treasured possession, her toy dolphin that her dad had given her.

The monster then took her to his half sister's mobile home which was located near to Jessica's home. In his horrendous confessions to the police he described how he raped Jessica over and over again during a weekend ordeal, he fed her scraps of food and gave her some water but kept her in a cupboard and threatened her to keep quiet, the poor child did as he asked. In a sickening and cruel manner, he described how after he had continually abused Jessica he was fed up and didn't know what else to do with her and there was reports on the news about her disappearance, he wanted to get rid of her but he didn't know how. He finally decided to tell her to climb into a black plastic bag, he told her that he had to hide her from the neighbours. Jessica, who was still holding her toy dolphin, did as he ordered and got into the black bag after John had tied her wrists together with speaker wire. He tied the bag at the end and then proceeded to put another black bag over the top of it. There was no way for Jessica to escape. She was trapped and struggled desperately for air. Jessica was afraid of the dark and would sleep with a bedside light on at night, it is hard to imagine the absolute fear and terror that this little girl must have been going through.


He dragged Jessica in the black bags out to a shallow grave that he had dug under the trailer and buried her alive. He left her there to suffocate to death and then tried to carry on about his every day business like nothing had happened.

(The trailer where John Couey abducted and buried Jessica. Picture credit: murderpedia.org)

John Evander Couey was brought to the attention of police investigators as he had been on a list of registered sex offenders who were located in the area near Jessica's home. It is standard procedure that the police check out the homes of all of the registered sex offenders within that area and they searched the trailer that John had been living in with his half sister and two other people (who later claimed that they knew nothing of Jessica's abduction or murder). 

The evidence against John piled up and investigators found Jessica's DNA in his room, he told the police after taking a lie detector test that they didn't need to tell him the results and proceeded to give them a full confession (on the18th of March 2005) together with the details of where to find Jessica's body.

Investigators rushed to the scene and made the gruesome discovery, They found the black bags which contained Jessica's badly decomposed body. Another heartbreaking detail was that two of Jessica's fingers (which had become skeletonized) were discovered poking out of a hole in one of the bags as she had desperately tried to escape and get some air. When her body was removed from the bags, she was found clutching her toy dolphin.

(John Evander Couey. Picture credit: heraldtribune.com

As investigators looked into John Evander Couey's past they found that he was not only on the sex offender's register, but that he was also a career criminal who had previously been arrested a total of 24 times in a space of 30 years. He'd committed various crimes from theft to child abuse and was said to have been a heavy cocaine addict at one point.


During the trial, Mark Lunsford had this to say to John Evander Couey: ''I hope you hear her crying as you try to sleep at night. I hope you see the tears running down her face when she asked you to go home. I hope you spend the rest of your life in fear of death. You will never hurt another child again.''

(Jessica's treasured toy dolphin in an evidence bag during the trial. Picture credit: murderpedia.org

On the 27th of August 2007, John Evander Couey was sentenced to death, he showed no remorse at any point and just nodded his head when his death sentence was read out to him, not long after this, he was diagnosed with anal cancer and died on the 30th of September 2009. One can only hope that he had a slow and painful death and even then with some of the comforts of a hospital it would have been nowhere near the pain, suffering and sheer terror that poor little Jessica Lunsford had to go through.


After the horrendous death of his young daughter, Mark Lunsford established the Jessica Lunsford Act requiring tighter restrictions on sex offenders which includes wearing electronic tracking devices.


Mark also tried to take legal action against Citrus County's Sheriff Office and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. Mark claimed that investigators had made various mistakes in the investigation which included the police looking at him as a possible suspect in his daughter's disappearance in the beginning.

It was also reported that when Jessica's disappearance was first brought to the attention of her estranged mother, she claimed that she had not seen her daughter for over 4 years.


Mark's girlfriend gave birth on what would have been Jessica's 12th birthday.


''We were more than a father and daughter, we were best friends. As a single father I learnt a lot about my children that only a single parent could understand. Me and Jessie used to argue about who loved each other the most and one day I told her, I said, you know...I love you this much and that means I love you all the way around and she looked up at me and she said 'Daddy, I love you this much that nothing will come between us''. - Mark Lunsford.

(Jessica's grave. Picture credit: findagrave.com)


''When a child dies, you bury the child in your heart,'' - Korean Proverb.


RIP Jessica Marie Lunsford.

Thank you for taking the time to read this heartbreaking post if you have made it this far you'll understand why it affected me so much. It's important that Jessica is never forgotten.

If you would like to leave a little memorial note or flowers for Jessica, you can do so here

See you in the next post x


Further reading & sources:





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5 comments:

  1. Not to be cruel, but he kiiiinda got what he deserved right up his ass.

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  2. Unfortunately there's a lot more to the story indicating that many people beyond John Couey shared the blame Jessica Lunsford's murder, as I document here: http://cavdef.org/w/index.php?title=Valdosta_sex_ring_allegations#John_Couey Among other irregularities:

    * The fact that Couey was free at the time of Jessica's kidnapping was highly suspicious: he had been violating the law by not keeping in contact with state authorities, and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) told the local sheriff's office to round him up, but somehow they sent it to the wrong address. How the hell does the lead state LE agency not know the address of its sheriff's departments?

    * Almost everyone in the trailer where Couey was knew that he was keeping Jessica there, yet the prosecutor nonsensically claimed that no charges could be filed despite having previously arrested them on an obstruction of justice charge.

    * Volunteers with cadaver dogs reported being told to stand down by the sheriff's office, preventing Jessica's body from being found.

    * Even Mark Lunsford has some things about him that are suspect. Child pornography was found on his computer, which he never acknowledged, and then the authorities began lying that no child porn had been found and it was there from "pop-ups", even though it was in the delete bin so Mark or whoever used the computer had to have had it downloaded in an accessible place before consciously choosing to delete it. The sheriff initially said that Couey was "part of Jessica Lunsford's family, social, school or church circles" but later claimed he had no prior connection to her or the family. This is all documented in press reports.

    * It has been alleged that Couey was connected to a child trafficking operation in nearby Valdosta GA, and indeed, one of Couey's family members in the trailer (the only one not arrested on obstruction charges) said that Couey would spend so much time in Georgia doing some unspecified activities that he believed Couey lived in Georgia. If Couey was connected to a ring like that, it puts what happened to Jessica in a much different light.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I was aware of some of situation around Jessica's father and her brother but I chose not to focus on that and just covered the case here briefly. Thank you for your comments and for the added information x

      Delete