Marc and Debra seemed to have it all — a lovely home in the Prairie town of Medicine Hat, fulfilling careers, a supportive marriage, and two beautiful children: eight-year-old Jacob and twelve-year-old JR. After years of struggle to reach this point, they finally felt their future held promise. But on April 23, 2006, their bodies were discovered in their basement, covered in savage stab wounds. Upstairs, Jacob lay dead on his bed, his toys spattered with blood.
Investigators worried for JR’s safety, but unknown to them, the pretty honour roll student had been developing a disturbing alter ego online. Runaway Devil professed a fondness for a darker world of death metal music, the goth subculture, and a love for Jeremy Steinke, a twenty-three-year-old high-school dropout who lived in a rundown trailer park. Soon, shocking evidence in JR’s school locker — printed here for the first time — led police to believe the girl was a suspect in her family’s murders.
The case horrified parents everywhere. Journalists Robert Remington and Sherri Zickefoose have been covering it from the beginning, and in Runaway Devil, they reveal what really happened: the unlikely young love, the teenage rebellion, a troubling world of adolescent drifters, and a small community torn apart by an unthinkable crime.
A modern cautionary tale, Runaway Devil is also a chilling portrait of an approval-seeking man smitten with a manipulative young girl — who would stop at nothing to get what she wanted.
In 2006, 12-year-old "J.R." and her 23-year-old boyfriend Jeremy Steinke murdered her mother, father and younger brother. Collecting information on the couple's troubling relationship, immersion in the local goth scene and obsession with violent music and films, Calgary journalists Remington and Zickefoose piece together the puzzle of a young girl's turn to familicide, a "culture did it" approach balanced by the considerable possibilities that Steinke corrupted the smart young girl, or vice-versa-that a charismatic young J.R. lured Steinke into murder. Ultimately, the authors manage at best to humanize the senseless tragedy of two deeply disturbed people, but don't look too hard for answers; the result is less like a genuine attempt to understand the tragedy than an exploitative narrative sounding the alarm against exploitation. As is unfortunately characteristic of true crime involving youth culture, this case has a schizophrenic approach to the goth subculture, which they describe as both misunderstood (demonized) and having played a prominent part in the couple's crimes. Still, those who want a solid, sensationalist crime account that gets into the heads of its subjects should find this a page-turning thrill.
Customer ReviewsSee All
This event took place in a city near where I lived and I had always wanted to know more about the principle characters. The inside view is terrifying and the motives puzzling. The story is well researched and told.