It’s the ultimate tale of good against evil. In 1997, a group of wayward teenagers allegedly led by Natasha Cornett, went on a road trip in order to escape a life of poverty and believed persecution back in their home state of Kentucky and headed south towards New Orleans. That trip would change their lives forever, but not in the way they expected.
The teens pulled their hatchback into a rest stop just outside the Baileyton, Tennessee exit. Also there that day was the Lillelid family, who were on their way back from a Jehovah’s Witness conference, along with their two young children. Spotting the teens with their wild hair colors, facial piercings and gothic style clothing, Vidar Lillelid decided to approach the teens and talk to them about Jesus Christ.
The teens had other plans. They held the family at gunpoint, ensuring the family that they weren’t going to hurt them, then demanded the van they were driving. Three of the teens piled into the van with the family, while three others followed behind. They took the next exit off the highway and drove down the first rural road they came across.
There are conflicting accounts on what occurred next, but neighbors reported to police hearing gun shots, followed by the sounds of shouting coming from the remote area. Police arrived on what seemed to be a routine disturbance call to find both Vidar and Delfina Lillelid, their 6-year-old daughter Tabitha and 2-year-old son Peter shot and piled into a ditch along the dirt roadway.
Three members of the family died, but little Peter managed to survive the ordeal. He suffered severe spinal trauma and was left half-blind.
Two days later the teens were caught in Arizona attempting to cross the boarder into Mexico in the Lillelid’s van.
Natasha Cornett, Edward Mullins, Joseph Risner, Crystal Sturgill, Karen Howell and Jason Bryant were rounded up one-by-one and charged in the heinous murder of the Lillelid family. From there the media circus began.
Through the advice of her lawyer, Cornett was encouraged to conduct prison interviews with various media outlets. She described herself as “the daughter of Satan” and played up her interest in the gothic subculture, claiming the group regularly held Satanic rituals and would drink blood from one another. Cornett later claims those things did happen, but it was not as ritualistic as she once claimed it was.
The wild stories further compounded the media’s interest in the group of self-proclaimed Satanic teens taking the lives of an innocent God-fearing family.
Though no one could agree who did the actual shooting, all members of the group were sentenced to life in prison. It’s believed some of the group may have been down the road while the shooting occurred, but since they still agreed to flee with the shooter to Mexico, they were still found to be guilty.