In May, a Youngstown State University sociology student was callously beaten to death by her ex-girlfriend and another woman, then buried alive in a shallow grave that the two killers dug prior to the crime. Now, harrowing details extracted from police interviews are revealing the cruel story behind the crime, according to the Erie (Pa.) Times-News.
Jade N. Olmstead, 18, and her new girlfriend, Ashley M. Barber, 20, allegedly planned to kill Olmstead’s ex, Brandy M. Stevens. Though the motive remains unclear, the timeline of the ugly crime is not. Police say that Olmstead and Barber lured Stevens to their house near Cochranton, Pennsylvania, a small town about 85 miles north of Pittsburgh. Under the pretense of showing Stevens a wooden fort being built on the property, Olmstead led Stevens into a wooded area where Barber was waiting.
With crude weapons ready, Olmstead and Barber strangled Stevens with rope, pummeled her with a steel shovel, and rammed her head into a tree stump. They dragged her to a pre-dug grave and tried to drown her by pouring water into her mouth. They left her for dead—but Stevens was not yet dead. Autopsy reports showed that Stevens asphyxiated on dirt from the grave.
When friends and family noticed Stevens missing, Barber first told police that her father had killed Stevens because she “looked like a boy.” Barber and Olmstead later confessed to the crime, according to state police Trooper Eric Mallory, who testified in a preliminary hearing July 25.
Crawford County District Attorney Francis Schultz is considering whether to ask for the death penalty for Olmstead and Barber, who will be arraigned August 24.
The most recent report on lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer intimate partner violence issued by the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs shows a 38% increase in reports of such incidents in 2010. It also highlights an increase in the severity of violence experienced by LGBTQ and HIV-affected survivors of violence. In 2010, more than half of survivors (55.4%) experienced physical violence at the hands of their partners, a substantial increase from 2009 (36.5%).