Three Teens Kill College Student from Australia Out of Boredom
Three “cold and callous” Oklahoma teens were fighting boredom on a lazy August afternoon — so they shot and killed a jogger “for the fun of it,” authorities said yesterday.
The brazen slaying of Christopher Lane (top right), an Australian student who came to the United States because he loved baseball, shocked people in both countries and prompted a call Down Under for a tourist boycott of America.
Police said Lane was visiting Duncan, Okla., where his girlfriend lives, on Friday afternoon when he jogged past a home where the teens were staying.
“We were bored and didn’t have anything to do, so we decided to kill somebody,” cops quoted Michael Dewayne Jones, 17, (inset bottom, far right) as saying.
Jones claimed he, James Francis Edwards Jr., 15, (inset bottom, center) and Chancey Allen Luna, 16, (inset bottom, left) agreed on a murder “for the fun of it,” Police Chief Danny Ford said.
“They saw Christopher go by, and one of them said, ‘There’s our target,’ ” Ford said.
Investigators said Jones drove a car and followed Lane, 22, from Melbourne who was attending East Central University in Ada, Okla., on a baseball scholarship.
Luna, in the back seat, delivered a single fatal shot from a .22-caliber revolver, according to prosecutor Jason Hicks.
Lane staggered and collapsed on the tree-lined road. Passers-by tried CPR in vain.
The teens were found in a church parking lot, thanks to surveillance video.
KWTV in Oklahoma City said they had killed an animal before Lane — and were set to kill another human later Friday when they were captured. Luna’s mother told the station that they were members of a “wannabe gang.”
Luna and Edwards were charged with first-degree murder yesterday and held without bond. Jones, who gave cops a detailed confession, was charged with being an accessory and his bail was set at $1 million.
Edwards has a history of run-ins with the law — and had been in court earlier Friday to sign documents related to his juvenile probation.
“I believe this man is a threat to the community and should not be let out,” Hicks said in opposing bail. “He thinks it’s all a joke.”
In Australia, former Deputy Prime Minister Tim Fischer asked his countrymen to avoid visiting the United States.
“Tourists thinking of going to the USA should think twice,” Fischer told the Herald Sun newspaper.
“I am deeply angry about this because of the callous attitude of the three teenagers [but] it’s a sign of the proliferation of guns on the ground in the USA.”
Lane’s father, Peter, said trying to understand the murder “is a short way to insanity.
THE teenagers accused of murdering Melbourne baseball player Chris Lane were dobbed in by a local who claims his son was the trio's next target.
Chancey Allen Luna, 16, and James Francis Edwards Jr., 15 have been charged with first-degree murder over the fatal shooting in Duncan, Oklahoma. Michael Dewayne Jones, 17, was charged with using a vehicle in the discharge of a weapon and with accessory to first-degree murder after the fact.
James Johnson, 52, called the police to tell them that the accused killers were hiding in the car park of the Immauel Baptist Church car park at about 5pm, two hours after they allegedly shot Lane.
The Immanuel Baptist Church parking lot in Duncan, Oklahoma, where the three accused of killing Chris Lane last Friday were apprehended. Picture: Andrew QuiltySource: Supplied
"My son called me and said, "They're saying they're coming to kill me," so I called the police and they got here within about three minutes," Johnson told the Herald Sun.
Mr Johnson claimed that Edwards Jr had threatened the life of his own 17-year-old son Christopher on Facebook. His son was at home with his mother and sisters near the church when he received the death threat.
"They threatened to kill my son because they are in a gang, the Crips, and were trying to get my son in it and I wouldn't let him do it.
"I told him he couldn't run with those boys. He's a little terrified."
Mr Johnson said the Crips, a predominantly African American street gang that began in Los Angeles in 1969 and had been in Duncan for the past few years.
James Johnson believes his teenage son was the trio’s next target. Picture: Andrew QuiltySource:Supplied
He said the group consisted of teenagers who he called "wannabes."
"I've been living here all my life and we never had this, but in the past few years gangs from Lawton have been coming here," Johnson said of the Crips.
Johnson's son also attends Duncan High School, where suspect Luna and Edwards Jr. were students. He said he knew both boys, and described them as "troublemakers" and "bullies" who had "no parental supervision."
"I'm just glad they found the other gun, because they haven't found the murder weapon yet," said Johnson.
Meanwhile, the US government says it is "deeply saddened" by the drive-by shooting murder.
"The United States is deeply saddened to hear the tragic news of the death of an Australian citizen in Oklahoma," Ms Harf said.
"This is clearly a tragic death, and we extend our condolences to the family and the loved ones. We understand that local authorities are focused on bringing those responsible to justice. Clearly, we would support that."
The State Department's comments came after former deputy prime minister Tim Fischer urged Australian tourists to stay away from America to protest the need for stricter gun controls in the US.
Prosecutors have promised that the "thugs" charged over the brutal murder "will pay".
District Attorney Jason Hicks said outside the first court hearing in the Oklahoma town of Duncan that he was "going to do everything I can to ensure these three thugs pay for what they did to Christopher Lane".
"To those friends of ours in Australia, we would say to you this is not Duncan, Oklahoma," Mr Hicks said.
"This is not Stephens County, Oklahoma."
Stephens County Courthouse heard how one of the boys accused of murdering Lane, 22, danced and laughed as he was taken into a police station to be charged after the killing on Friday.
James Edwards, 15, was treating the murder as a joke, Mr Hicks told the hearing.
Mr Hicks told the court that Edwards has previously been in contact with police, and that he had "an attitude of total disregard for law enforcement" when he was being charged over Lane's death.
"He was cold, callous and that was the demeanour that we saw throughout the course of the investigation," Mr Hicks said.
Edwards and Chancey Luna, 16, are charged with first-degree murder and face life in prison if convicted.
Mr Hicks said that Luna had refused to co-operate with police.
They were both refused bail.
James Edwards, 15, charged with first-degree murder.Source: Supplied
James Edwards takes a selfie.Source: Supplied
Chancey Luna, 16, charged with first-degree murder.Source: AP
Chancey Luna.Source: Supplied
Michael Jones, 17, was charged with using a vehicle to facilitate the discharge of a weapon and accessory after the fact of murder in the first degree.
Bail for Jones, who is assisting prosecutors and police, was set at $US1 million ($A1.1 million).
The three will be tried as adults.
They were dressed in orange prison jumpsuits and had their legs shackled during the brief appearance.
Michael Jones, 17, charged with being an accessory to the killing.Source: Supplied
The court was told that the three boys spotted Lane jogging along a road in an upper-class area of Duncan on Friday.
They got into a car driven by Jones, drove behind Lane and then Luna shot him with .22 calibre revolver in the back, the court was told.
"The information we have was this was the person who pulled the trigger," the prosecutor said of Luna.
Edwards and Luna did not show any emotion, but Jones broke down in tears after Mr Hicks said he was looking at a "very, very lengthy prison sentence".
"I didn't pull the trigger," Jones said.
Chris Lane. Picture: Essendon Baseball ClubSource: AP
Sarah Harper and Chris Lane.Source: Supplied
The courtroom was packed and divided.
In the front row sat about 20 family and friends of Sarah Harper, Lane's longtime American girlfriend. Ms Harper, 23, was not in court.
Cindy Harper told the Herald Sun her daughter was at home "trying to relax".
Another Harper family member said "this is surreal" as they were taken out a side door of the court building by sheriffs.
A few rows behind was a distraught Jennifer Luna, coming to grips with a nightmare 12 months that saw the death of her husband in a motorcycle accident and now the prospect her son could spend the rest of his life in prison.
Jennifer Luna, right, the mother of murder suspect Chancey Luna, outside court.Source: AP
Jennifer Luna. Photo: Andrew Quilty.Source: HeraldSun
On the right hand side of the courtroom was James Edwards Sr, refusing to believe his son was a killer.
"Yes, I do," Mr Edwards replied outside court when asked if he believed his son, who hoped to be an Olympic wrestler, was innocent.
In the back left area of the court was Jones's parents and supporters, including his pregnant girlfriend.
She sobbed in her seat, eventually leaving the court before Jones came in.
Edwards and Luna did not appear to be fazed during their court appearance.
Even when Ms Luna stood up in court to answer an administrative question from Judge Jerry Herberger, her son didn't acknowledge her.
Edwards didn't look for family members.
James Edwards Sr believes his 15-year-old son is innocent.Source: AP
The sister of accused murder James Edwards is comforted by a friend, left.Source: HeraldSun
Asked if she had a message for the Lane family outside court, Ms Luna told the Herald Sun: "I feel sorry for them, my heart goes out to them, it really does, but that's my baby too.
"My boy was a baby too."
Luna said there were no guns at her house, and her son was at home playing X-Box with her soon-to-be stepson when she came home from work last Friday after finishing at 3pm.
It comes a day after Duncan Police Chief Danny Ford said he had secured the confession of Jones who had summoned investigators to his jail cell and claimed they were bored "so they decided to kill somebody".
Chief Ford said the teens had no motive other than to ''make a name for themselves''.
Prosecutor Jason Hicks, right, talks to the media following the teenagers’ court appearance.Source: AP
Lane was staying with Ms Harper in Duncan before going back to Oklahoma's East Central University where he majored in finance and was the catcher on the team's baseball team.
Ms Harper yesterday revealed her heartbreak at losing her "best friend", and parents of the accused protested their innocence.
She also told the Herald Sun that she didn't know what punishment would be appropriate for the three teens.
Lane, who grew up in Oak Park in Melbourne's north, had only been back in the US for three days after an eight-week break in Australia with Ms Harper.
"I don't want them to have any future that Chris wasn't able to have as well," Ms Harper said of the accused yesterday.
"It's been pretty rough. It's been hard knowing he was taken so close to home, let alone taken in the way he was. To be pointed out like that …"
Ms Harper said she and Lane had joked about America's soft gun laws before he was shot.
"He wasn't a fan of guns," she said.
Sarah Harper next to a memorial along the road where Chris Lane was killed.Source: AP
A memorial to Chris Lane near where he was shot.Source: AP
She fondly described Lane as a smart, kind and curious guy who would "do anything for anybody".
Ms Harper, also a talented sportswoman, said she and Lane just "meshed together" within weeks of meeting at college in Oklahoma in August 2009.
"It was more of a personality (we had in common), not so much interests. He was intellectual, into world news, and I found that quite boring," she said.
"He really wanted to travel more. He loved the idea of seeing the world."
Ms Harper said she would come back to Australia to farewell Lane with his family.
"I'm probably going to go back and say goodbye with the people he loved the most," she said.
"It was a great time getting back there and seeing him in his element with all his favourite friends.
"It's going to be hard going back but it's something I need to do.
"Thank you to everyone who supported and loved Chris. I really appreciated it."
Christopher Lane’s mother and sister.Source: News Limited
Shocked family and friends have been trying to make sense of the tragedy.
Peter Lane paid tribute to his son and said the family was still waiting on news from the US authorities regarding the repatriation of the body.
"There is not going to be any good come out of this. It was so senseless. There was nothing he did or could have done," Mr Lane said this week.
"It's happened. It's wrong and we just try and deal with it the best we can."
Flowers and a baseball have been placed on the home plate at Essendon Baseball Club with a message.
"A wonderful young man taken too soon," it read. "Why?"
College friend Marshall Veal added Lane had "brought light to each of us''.
"Lanes would have done anything in the world for all of us and we would do the same, he was a best friend, teammate, and most of all a Brother. We love you Laney."
Local Bill Renfrow, who lives just metres from the intersection where Lane was shot, said Duncan locals had erected a flower memorial for him at the site of the attack.
"It's sad to us, more than anything. It's shocking. He was a visitor in our country," he said.
"This is a very quiet neighbourhood, there's never any trouble here."
Essendon Baseball Club's match against the University of Melbourne on Sunday will be turned into a tribute to Lane to raise money for the family