A teen triangle and bitter Facebook feud culminated in the savage killing of a 15-year-old Florida boy who was lured to his death by his former girlfriend, law-enforcement officials said.
Even the lawyer for one of the suspects called the killing "pretty damn depraved."
Seath Jackson was hit in the head and shot, but he still tried desperately to flee the home in Summerfield where the attack occurred Sunday, police said.
He was shot again and his body was placed in a bathtub, where his knees were broken so his body would fit in a sleeping bag. He was still alive, so he was shot again, and then his body was burned in a backyard fire pit, according to arrest documents. His ashes were shoveled into paint containers.
Michael Bargo, 18; Amber Wright, 15; her brother Kyle Hooper, 16; Charlie Ely, 18; and Justin Soto, 20, have been charged with first-degree murder. James Haven, 37, has been charged with accessory to murder for allegedly helping to dispose of the body and driving Bargo out of town.
The community, in the bucolic horse country of Florida 65 miles northeast of Orlando, is reeling.
"It's an unimaginable act, the idea that six people would come together and carry out to kill a 15-year-old," Marion County Police Officer Judge Cochran said. "It's not something you expect to happen anywhere, particularly not in Marion County. We're a religious community. People move here for the level of quiet."
On a Facebook page RIP Seath Tyler Jackson, friends and strangers alike expressed horror and anger. "I hope his murderers rott in hell," wrote Courtney Jewell, a friend of the victim.
Police said the killing had its origins in the animosity between Bargo and the victim. "This violence came from Michael Bargo's intense hatred for Seath Jackson. Because of the hatred, he formed a plan to kill him," said Cochran.
Seath Jackson-Amber Wright Facebook Spat
The hatred seemed tied to Jackson's relationship with Amber Wright, his ex-girlfriend. In early March, he wrote "love you Amber" on his Facebook wall, but by April 7 he was calling her "slut."
A public battle began on Facebook on April 8 when Wright wrote on Jackson's page: "I got so tired of you treating me like I was nothing. If you're so perfect, why don't you get over your jealousy and get a new girl you can hurt. ... You know I cared deeply about you. I stuck with you through a lot of stuff. ... It takes a real man to accept the fact he got broken up with."
Jackson responded, "We both need to just let all of this go. Yeah we split, yeah it hurt, but I'm over it. I'm just not going to let Mike have his cake and eat it too."
According to Bargo's lawyer, Charles Holloman, Bargo "had affection" for Amber that sparked fury at Jackson. "He was concerned about the way she was being treated. He wasn't the only one who was concerned," the lawyer said.
On Sunday, Wright sent a barrage of text messages to Jackson luring him to Ely's house, according to arrest documents. When he arrived, Bargo, Hooper and Soto hit him in the head with wooden objects, police say. Then the grisly and prolonged killing began, cops said.
On Monday, police said Jackson's mother reported him missing and as a possible runaway.
But on Tuesday, Tracy Wright, Amber's mother, contacted police and told them her son, Hooper, witnessed Jackson's murder. On Thursday police were combing through a red dumpster for further evidence, and Jackson's ashes were being definitively identified by University of Florida forensic experts.
Holloman blamed police for not intervening sooner in a volatile situation. He claims that Jackson previously "stood in front of (Bargo's) parents' home, raising cain, threatening to burn the house down, threatening to kill people," but police didn't take action.
Holloman acknowledges his client has a record for theft and an order of protection was taken out against him by a 16-year-old boy last year. "He's had his issues," the lawyer said, but added: "Jackson's no angel."
Still, he said, that's no justification for "killing someone, chopping them up and putting them in a bag. That's pretty damn depraved."