Police: Girl, charged with killing brother, abused for years
Andrew Capasso, WTLV- and WJXX-TV, Jacksonville, Fla.7:31 a.m. EST January 8, 2015
15 and 11-year-old sisters in Florida are accused of killing their 16-year-old brother. The older sister told investigators her brother beat her and locked her in her room, and the history of abuse goes back farther than that. VPC
(Photo: Columbia High School yearbook)
WHITE SPRINGS, Fla. — One teenage girl accused of plotting to kill her older brother suffered years of physical abuse and was sexually abused by her uncle, authorities said Wednesday.
The 15-year-old girl, whom USA TODAY is not identifying because the 3rd Circuit state attorney has not decided yet whether to charge her as an adult, allegedly shot her 16-year-old brother, Damien Kornegay, sometime Monday evening with a handgun retrieved from a locked room, according to a Columbia County Sheriff's Office spokesman. She told investigators that she was angry her brother beat her up earlier that day and faces a charge of premeditated murder.
The siblings' 11-year-old sister also is being held because she is accused of keeping watch while her older sister broke into the bedroom through a window to get the 9mm handgun, Columbia County Sheriff Mark Hunter said Wednesday. She, too, is not being identified because of her age and faces a charge of premeditated murder.
"We don't have this in our community," Hunter said. "This is the stuff nightmares are made of."
The gun was unloaded but the teen loaded the weapon before shooting her brother, the sheriff said.
Police documents released Wednesday said the 15-year-old's uncle was convicted of molesting her in 2010. They also say the children's mother at one point discovered the siblings having sex.
Keith Kornegay, 37, of White Springs, Fla.(Photo: Columbia County (Fla.) Sheriff's Office)
The children's parents — Keith Kornegay, 37, and Misty Kornegay, 33 — had been away since Sunday, authorities said. They were arrested Tuesday, charged with child neglect causing great bodily harm and are accused of failing to properly supervise their children.
A judge set the parents' bond at $20,000 Wednesday and ordered that they cannot have unsupervised contact with their children. The Florida Department of Children and Families has taken a 3-year-old boy also in their home into custody.
Police in White Springs, a town of about 800 people 70 miles west of Jacksonville, Fla., learned of the crime a little before 10 p.m. ET Monday after receiving a phone call from the mother of a friend of the 11-year-old. The girl told her friend that she had run away and needed someone to pick her up at a Dollar General store, according to a police report.
When the woman arrived she found the older sister there, too, who mentioned that something might be wrong with another sibling at home, the report said. Officers who responded talked to the teen.
As she spoke, she applied makeup and "would not maintain eye contact and appeared emotionless," according to their report.
Misty Kornegay, 33, of White Springs, Fla.(Photo: Columbia County (Fla.) Sheriff's Office)
But soon she started crying and told the officers that her brother had beaten her, thrown her into her bedroom, and locked the door. She told officers that when he went to sleep her younger sister unlocked the door.
The teen said she then shot her brother, according to the report.
Columbia County deputies, who were contacted to check the house, found Damien dead in the living room. The weapon was on a blanket in the hallway.
"For our community to have this, there's going to be 100,000 whys," Hunter said. The older sister told investigators that at times for years she had been locked in a room with just a bucket and a blanket, and at one point one of the sisters had been removed from school.
The teen had told police that her parents were due to return around 5 a.m. Tuesday.
The children's father is a trucker, Hunter said. And the children's mother occasionally would accompany her husband on his hauls, leaving the youngsters under Damien's supervision.
The home in White Springs, Fla., where two sisters are accused of killing their older brother.(Photo: WTLV- and WJXX-TV, Jacksonville, Fla.)
That was a contributing factor to charges being filed, the sheriff said.
"These kids are hurting," said Veronica Thomas, pastor of White Springs Congregational Holiness Church. She spoke to them soon after the shooting.
Columbia County is home to about 70,000 residents and hasn't had a homicide in more than a year, officials said.
Because the children's parents also are under arrest — all had their first appearances in court scheduled Wednesday — any of the siblings who might be released from state custody can't return home now.
Children arrested for crimes and treated as juveniles can be held in detention for a maximum of 21 days under Florida law but the judge has granted an extra nine days in this case.
"I may be forced to actually charge them as adults to hold them in juvenile detention until I can work something out," said Jeff Siegmeister, 3rd Circuit state attorney. "I don't know all of the facts yet."
Contributing: Lisa Robbins and Laura Caso, WTLV- and WJXX-TV, Jacksonville, Fla.; The Associated Press