Ten Most Notorious Teen Killers
As disturbing as murders can be, sometimes the most shocking stories are about children who kill. These crimes were all committed by kids, whose ages range from 17 all the way down to 11 years old.
Date: October 27, 1997
Age: 11 years old
City: Pontiac, Michigan
Status: Prison in Jackson, Michigan
Nathaniel Abraham was just 11 years old when he shot and killed 18-year-old Ronnie Greene, Jr. According to court documents, Nathaniel was playing with a gun and told his friends to watch as he pointed the gun at Greene in a distance and fired. The man would be struck by the bullet and die shortly after, and Nathaniel would be arrested and convicted of murder.
He would later be released in 2007 at the age of 20 and given access to a state rehabilitation program that provided him with college tuition and housing. Unfortunately, his freedom would not last long. Just 18 months later, he was arrested again for dealing drugs and sent back to prison, getting paroled in 2017.
He would be in and out of trouble with the law for the next several years, and was finally sent back to prison for more serious drug charges. According to his prisoner page on the Michigan Department of Corrections website, Nathaniel's earliest release date would be February 2025, but if he serves his full sentence, he will be paroled in February 2059.
Date: July 28, 1999
Age: 12 years old
City: Pembroke Park, Florida
Status: Prison in South Bay, Florida
Lionel Tate was a 12-year-old bully with anger issues who was left alone to watch a six-year-old girl when his mother went upstairs for a nap. Lionel ended up beating the child to death. At his trial, he claimed that he was practicing wrestling moves and that her death was an accident.
Tate was tried as an adult and initially sentenced to life in prison without parole, but this was reduced on appeal. Tate would get out of prison while still a teen but did not last long in the free world; he would soon be sent back for armed robbery of a pizza delivery carrier.
He is currently serving time at a correctional facility in Florida and will be eligible for parole in 2031.
Read Lionel Tate's full story here.
Date: August 2, 1993
Age: 13 years old
City: Savona, New York
Status: Paroled in February 2022
Eric Smith was a 13-year-old who was bullied by peers of his own age. Eric would coax 4-year-old Derrick Robie into some woods near their day camp, where he repeatedly struck him with a large rock; Smith also strangled Robie and penetrated him with a stick. Eric confessed to his parents a few days later.
Eric Smith would be sentenced to nine years to life in prison, the maximum allowed for juveniles at the time. Smith was eligible for parole starting in 2002 and was denied 10 times. Eric Smith was ultimately paroled in February 2022.
Date: November 3, 1998
Age: 14 years old
City: Jacksonville, Florida
Status: Prison in Jacksonville, Florida
Joshua Phillips was 14 years old when he hit an 8-year-old girl with a baseball bat because he was scared his father would be mad that they were playing together. Later when she was moaning in his room, Phillips stabbed her to death and hid her body under his bed.
Phillips would help in the search for the missing girl, but a week later, his mother noticed a liquid coming from under the bed and discovered the girl's body.
Joshua Phillips was sentenced to life in prison. You can read his full story here.
Date: October 21, 2009
Age: 15 years old
City: St. Martins, Missouri
Status: Prison in Chillicothe, Missouri
Alyssa Bustamante was 15 years old when she decided that she wanted to know what it felt like to murder someone. She dug two large holes in a nearby forest area, then lured a nine-year-old girl into the forest and stabbed her repeatedly. Alyssa would placed the girl's body into the grave and cover it with leaves. Later she wrote in her diary about the thrill she experienced from committing the murder.
Alyssa Bustamante was sentenced to life in prison. She will be eligible for parole in 2054, when she's 60 years old.
You can read Alyssa's full story here.
Date: March 1, 2008
Age: 16 years
City: Alba, Texas
Status: Prison in Gatesville, Texas
Erin Caffey was 15 years old when she planned the murders of her entire family. Erin's parents were not happy she was dating an older man and attempted to prevent her from dating him. Instead of breaking up, the two planned her family's murders.
The boyfriend was joined by an accomplice and the two entered the Caffey household and shot Erin's father (who survived the attack), along with her mother and Erin's younger brother; another younger brother was stabbed to death. The two men then lit the family's house on fire.
Erin initially concocted a kidnapping alibi, but her story soon fell apart. For her involvement in planning the murders, Erin was sentenced to life in prison without parole.
Date: July 1987–September 1989
Age: Between 13 and 15 years old
City: Warwick, Rhode Island
Status: Prison in Raiford, Florida
Craig Price is a serial killer who committed his crimes between the ages of 13 and 15 years old. He started his criminal career committing petty crimes like robbery and breaking and entering, but eventually his behavior escalated and he killed two women and two children before he was caught.
He remains a disturbed and aggressive person even while incarcerated, and he has added many additional years to his prison term due to his violent behavior.
Read Craig Price's full story here.
Date: January 19, 2013
Age: 15 years old
City: South Valley, New Mexico
Status: Prison in Lea County, New Mexico
Nehemiah Griego was 15 years old when he murdered his parents and three younger siblings. At first Nehemiah was sentenced to a juvenile facility as authorities waited to see how his mental health treatment was progressing.
In 2019, a judge decided that Griego responded poorly to treatment; he was sentenced as an adult and must serve his entire 30-year sentence before he is eligible for parole.
Date: September 7, 1985 and March 5, 1986
Age: 15–16 years old
City: Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Status: Executed in 1999
Sean Sellers was 16 years old when he was arrested for the murder of his parents in 1986. According to court documents, Sean fatally shot his mother and stepfather while they slept. Once he was arrested, Sellers confessed to murdering a store clerk in 1985. He was convicted of all three murders and sentenced to death.
Sellers, who blamed the murders on both demonic possession and an addiction to the role-playing game Dungeons & Dragons, would eventually be executed in 1999.
Date: July 18, 2003
Age: 17 years old
City: Clear Lake City, Texas
Status: Prison in Gatesville, Texas
Christine Paolilla was 17 years old when she and her boyfriend Christopher Snider went to visit friends with the intention of stealing their drugs. An argument ensued and the four victims were shot and beaten to death. The pair actually got away with the quadruple murder, as police had no clue who was responsible.
Several years later, an anonymous tip would be phoned into the police with details of the crime, along with two names: Christine and Christopher. Snider would take his own life before he could be arrested; Christine was arrested and convicted on four counts of murder and sentenced to life in prison. She will be eligible for parole in 2046, when she will be 60 years old.
- Nathaniel Abraham page on murderpedia.org
- Nathaniel Abraham sent back to prison for dealing drugs, Mike Martindale, The Detroit News, June 25, 2019
- Lionel Tate: The Murder of Tiffany Eunick
- Eric Smith page on murderpedia.org
- Freckle-faced killer freed on parole, says he's engaged, Kat Teurfs, CBS News, March 23, 2022
- The Story of Erin Caffey, The 16-Year-Old Who Convinced Her Boyfriend To Murder Her Entire Family
- Joshua Phillips page on murderpedia.org
- Lives go on after disappearance, death of Maddie Clifton, 8, Eileen Kelley, AP News, November 10, 2018
- How Teenager Alyssa Bustamante Brutally Murdered Elizabeth Olten
- Craig Price: Violent Teenage Killer
- New Mexico Supreme Court upholds life sentence for Nehemiah Griego, Allison Giron, KRQE News, June 20, 2022
- Sean Sellers page on murderpedia.org
- Christine Paolilla page on murderpedia.org