Lawyer: 12-year-old Elkhart murder suspect 'Failed by everyone'


A 12-year-old murder suspect from Elkhart reportedly said a fictional clown from a website told her to kill her stepmother, according to brand new court documents made public Wednesday.

Court documents also revealed the girl begged her father for help months before she allegedly stabbed her stepmother to death in July. The girl's public defender says the challenge now is finding help for her.

"This little girl has been failed by everyone," Holly Curtis, the girl's public defender, said.

Court documents show that three doctors have determined the 12-year-old is not fit to stand trial. They all diagnosed her with Dissociate Identity Disorder, or multiple personality disorder. Two of the doctors also determined the girl has Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

So far, 16 psychiatric facilities have refused to take her, court documents said. The state won't either, even after a court order signed by both a magistrate and a judge, according to Curtis.

The order, signed Tuesday, said state hospital placement through the Indiana Division of Mental Health is the "only option available."

"We've had our hands tied because at this point in time, there's no other facility that can or will take her," Curtis added, saying her client's story needs to be told. "We are running out of options - this is our last option."

Prosecutors say the girl set the family's Prairie Street apartment on fire then stabbed her stepmother in July. The stepmother, Maria Torres, died at the scene.A court order filed this week says the 12-year-old did it, "[]at the direction of a fictional character found on the Creepypasta website known as 'Laughing Jack,'" and the girl, "[]heard voices and had an 'alter ego' months before the stabbing and begged her father for help."

Court documents also say the girl is a risk to herself and others as long as she's at the Juvenile Detention Center in Goshen. She isn't allowed to have sharp objects near her or in her reach and because of her, the detention center had to add staff. Also, other children at the center are only allowed to use paper spoons to eat.In the 117 days the girl has been at the center, court documents say she, "continues to beg detention staff for help."

"This case presents extraordinary facts and circumstances requiring extraordinary care," Magistrate Debra Domine wrote in the most recent court order. "There is an emergency here."

"The risk level for her is beyond anything I think anybody can imagine," Curtis said. "For her not to be able to get the help she's crying out for is probably one of the biggest travesties I've seen so far with the systems and with a state agency not willing to step up and do their job."

The 12-year-old is currently seeing a counselor and taking medication prescribed by a doctor, court documents said.Her public defender said it's important for anyone with Dissociate Identity Disorder to begin a specific treatment program as soon as possible. Ending treatment before it's supposed to be complete could be dangerous, Curtis added.

Marni Lemons, a spokeswoman for the Family and Social Service Administration, told WSBT 22 work is being done to try and find appropriate placement for the girl. Lemons added she could not comment further because of medical privacy laws and because it's an ongoing legal matter.Lemons also called it, "a particularly complicated case."

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