Case Summary: The Murder of Jessica Lundsford

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On February 23, 2005 a nine-year old girl in Homosassa, Florida disappeared after attending a Wednesday evening church service. She was missing for almost 3 weeks before police found her body in a trash bag, holding a purple stuffed dolphin, in a grave no more than 3 feet deep. Publicly released autopsy reports said that the little girl, Jessica Lunsford, who dreamed of being a fashion designer and Olympic swimmer, had managed to tear two fingers through the garbage bag before suffocating to death.

Reports say that a neighbor, 46-year-old John Couey (who was drug hazed) broke into the family's unsecured mobile home at 3am and kidnapped Jessica, covering her mouth and telling her to keep quiet. He held her captive for more than a day and
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As a child he was said to be shy, quiet and withdrawn, possibly as a result of his speech impediment and oversized ears, for which he was teased. Public defender, Alan Fanter said Couey suffered from mental retardation and paranoid delusions brought on by childhood trauma that made him incapable of sound decision-making. He has the "mind of a child". Couey suffered from visual and auditory hallucinations that dated back to his early childhood, when he and his sister were shuffled among different relatives after leaving their mother, according to forensic psychologist Dr. Robert Berland. Berland said he based his conclusions on interviews with Couey's relatives, including an aunt, his sister and his cousin, but that most of the information came from an interview with Couey in July 2006. Couey's aunt, Virginia Kloetzer, testified in a videotaped interview that, while Couey was living with her family, he once cut up her nightgown into shreds.

"He said, "My mind told me to do it,'" said Kloetzer, who took Couey in when he was 5 and kept him for about four years. "I said, 'Next time your mind tells you to do something that's not right, you tell it "no."'"His half sister (whom he lived in the house with), claims that she and Couey had shared a "small" rock of cocaine the night he abducted Jessica. However, she denied having any knowledge that Jessica was ever in the trailer. Dr. Robert Berland, who

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