Colleen Slemmer Murder: Where is Christa Pike Now?

Image Credit: Malita/Find A Grave

Colleen Slemmer was a promising student enrolled at Job Corps in Knoxville, Tennessee, aiming for a bright and prosperous future. In January 1995, a worker discovered a dead body in the woods and alerted the police. The murder was brutal, with Colleen suffering multiple injuries and a pentagram carved into her chest. Investigation Discovery’s ‘Mean Girl Murders’ episode ‘She-Devil’ delves into the harrowing details of the case and the subsequent trial, which garnered national attention.

Colleen Slemmer Had Been Tortured Before Her Death

Colleen Anne Slemmer was born in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, on September 20, 1975. She was raised with much love by her mother, May Martinez, and her stepfather, who was also a significant parental figure. Colleen grew up with her younger sister in a supportive household. She aspired to attend college but decided to join the Job Corps in 1994 due to financial constraints. This government-organized vocational training program aligned with Colleen’s interest in computers, leading her to enroll in a center in Knoxville, Tennessee.

Image Credit: P. David Eastburn/Find A Grave

On the night of January 12, 1995, Colleen Slemmer left the Job Corps center but never returned. The next day, around 8 a.m., a University of Tennessee Grounds Department employee noticed something unusual in the woods. Initially thinking it was a dead animal, he soon realized it was the body of a woman and alerted the police. The police found the body lying face down amidst debris and dust.

The upper half was nude, covered in numerous cuts and bruises. Her head had been bludgeoned, and her neck was slashed. The body was taken to the station, where it was cleaned and identified as Colleen’s. The police were able to see that a pentagram had also been carved into her chest. They knew it was a targeted murder and concluded that she had been tortured for about 30 minutes to an hour before she passed away. A homicide investigation was launched into the murder.

Colleen Slemmer’s Killer Quickly Confessed to the Murder

The police began interviewing other students at the Job Corps, and it wasn’t long before several mentioned seeing Colleen Slemmer leaving the premises with Christa Gail Pike, Tadaryl D. Shipp, and Shadolla R. Peterson on the night of the murder and not returning. Many students also reported that Pike had talked about killing Colleen days before the incident and had been showing people a piece of skull, claiming it was Colleen’s. The police took all three into custody and started their interrogation.

When the police informed Pike that her accomplice, Peterson, had become an informant, Pike confessed to the crime and provided a detailed account of what had happened. Pike explained that she and Colleen had been having issues for some time, alleging that Colleen was trying to pursue her boyfriend, Shipp. Colleen’s friends asserted that these claims were unfounded. She said that the three of them planned to lure Colleen into the woods under the pretense of smoking marijuana and resolving their differences. Pike insisted that her intention was never to kill Colleen but merely to scare her.

While Peterson kept watch, Pike recounted that she and Shipp began hitting and kicking Colleen and used a box cutter. She detailed how, when Colleen tried to run away, she picked up an asphalt rock, threw it at her head, and continued to strike her. After the assault, the three scattered Colleen’s clothes in the surrounding area before returning to the center. When the police asked if Pike had been carrying a piece of Colleen’s skull, she denied it, but a piece was later found in the pocket of her jacket. A pair of blood and mud-stained jeans were also recovered from Pike’s room.

Christa Pike is on Death Row Till Today

Christa Pike’s trial began in March 1996. Due to her confession and the substantial evidence gathered by the police, the prosecution concluded swiftly. She was found guilty of first-degree murder and sentenced to death by electrocution, making her one of the youngest women on death row in US history. Additionally, she was found guilty of conspiracy to commit murder, for which she received an additional 25-year sentence.

Pike did not appeal her conviction for several years, and an execution date was set for August 19, 2002. However, in July of that year, she filed an appeal, and the execution was postponed. In August 2001, Christa Pike attacked fellow inmate Patricia Jones, attempting to strangle her with a shoelace. For this, she was convicted of attempted first-degree murder in August 2004, for which she was given another 25 years in prison. In 2008, Pike appealed for a retrial, but the request was denied.

In 2014, her defense team appealed to have her taken off death row, arguing that she was only 18 years old when she was sentenced to death. They also claimed she had had mental illness since childhood and had endured years of emotional and physical abuse. However, in 2018, this appeal for relief was also denied. Christa Pike has exhausted all her appeals and remains on death row. She is held at the Debra K. Johnson Rehabilitation Center under maximum custody. Now 48 years old, if Pike is executed, she would be the first woman in Tennessee to face execution in hundreds of years.

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