On September 22, 2006, Cassie Jo Stoddart was murdered by 2 of her high school classmates. Brian Lee Draper and Torey Michael Adamcik, both 16 years old at the time, were sentenced to mandatory life sentences without parole for the crime.
Brian Draper lived most of his life in Utah, but while in high school, he and his family relocated to Pocatello, Idaho, where he met Torey Adamcik. They were both interested in movies, and started to film their own. They were classmates of Cassie Jo Stoddart, all juniors at Pocatello High School.
On the night of September 22, 2006, Cassie was house sitting for her aunt and uncle in northeast Bannock County. Her aunt and uncle, Allison and Frank Conreras, were out of town and had asked Cassie to take care of their 5 pets for the weekend, and she agreed.
While house sitting, Cassie's boyfriend, Matt Beckham, arrived at around 6. Later on, Draper and Adamcik also came over to the house to hang out. Cassie gave them a tour of the house, and then they went to the living room to watch Kill Bill Volume II. The 2 soon-to-be killers left during the movie, saying they'd rather go watch a film at the local movie theater. Cassie and Matt stayed behind and finished the movie.
But what Cassie didn't know was that, before they left, the unlocked the basement door so that they could re-enter later on undetected. Sometime after they left, they returned, and parked down the street. They got out of their car, put on dark costumes and masks, and entered the house through the basement while the couple was still watching the movie. They made loud noises so Cassie and Matt would come downstairs to scare them. Then, they turned off the power in the house, hoping that they'd come down to the basement to check the breaker. But they didn't.
So at this point, 2 losers are downstairs in full murder costume trying to lure a happy couple into the basement for a prank, but they keep failing at getting them to come downstairs. So they turned the lights back on.
Cassie was, reasonably, quite scared, and Matt was a bit unsettled as well when he realized one of the dogs kept barking and growling down the basement stairs. Knowing Cassie was scared, Matt called his mom to ask if he could sleep over with her, but she declined. However, she did offer Cassie to stay the night at their house, and they'd bring her back the following morning. But Cassie felt it was her responsibility to stay at the house and care for the animals. So at around 10:30, Matt's mom picked him up, and Cassie was left in the house... alone, or so he thought.
Matt called Adamcik and Draper to see where they were so they could meet up. But when he called, they were being so quiet that he couldn't hear them, and so he assumed they were in the movie theater. Little did he know, they were being so quiet as to not be detected as they crept around the house, terrorizing his girlfriend.
Once they knew that Matt left, they turned the lights off again, hoping that Cassie would come downstairs to check the circuit breaker. But again, she didn't. So they went upstairs. And that's where their plan to scare them turned into murder.
Draper had a dagger and Adamcik had a hunting knife. Brian opened and slammed doors to terrify Cassie who was lying on the living room couch. And then, they attacked her, brutally stabbing her approximately 30 times. 12 of the stab wounds would have killed Cassie on their own.
INVESTIGATION AND TRIAL
Cassie was not discovered until September 24 by her 13-year-old cousin when the family returned to the home. According to them, obviously, the discovery was extremely traumatic. Police responded at the scene, noting the large amounts of blood near the body and the variety of stab wounds. She was declared dead shortly after arriving. During the preliminary investigation, detectives determined that Torey Adamcik and Brain Draper were some of the last people to see her alive.
The detectives went to their homes to interview the teens. During the interview, Adamcik said they went to Cassie's aunt and uncle's house for a party, but decided to leave to go see a movie when they realized no party was happening. But when questioned on what movie he saw, he couldn't come up with anything. He did say that after the movie, Draper spent the night at his home.
Before Adamcik's second interview, Draper would lead the law enforcement officers to a stash of evidence they had buried in the Black Rock Canyon.
The killers were arrested on September 27, 2006, 5 days after they brutally murdered Cassie. They were charged with first degree murder and conspiracy to commit first-degree murder. During the investigation, police found that they had recorded their plan to murder Cassie on a video while at school.
During their respective interrogations, each teen blamed the other. Draper said, sure, he was holding a knife in the room where his friend stabbed an innocent classmate, but he didn't stab her. Later, he admitted to stabbing her, but only under commands from his friend.
But throughout the entire trial, Adamcik claimed he was acting at the hands of Draper. "I thought we were going to scare her," he said.
During the trial, the prosecution revealed that Draper had previously felt inspired by Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, the Columbine shooters. Additionally, Adamcik had been inspired by the Scream movie franchise. Ultimately, on April 17, 2007, Draper was found guilty, and Adamcik was found guilty on June 8, 2007. On August 21, 2007, both teen killers were sentenced to mandatory life sentences without the possibility of parole. They are both being held at Idaho State Correctional Institution.
"I never wanted it to happen, and I want to apologize to Cassie's family," Adamcik said.
Both of the teens, now men, have filed separate appeals - Adamcik in 2010, and Draper in 2011. They were appealing for their convictions to be vacated, or at least allow for eventual release on parole after 30 years. (Which, because they committed their crimes at age 16, they'd only be 46 at the time of release, with an entire life ahead of them). Their first appeals were denied on a 3/2 decision.
In July 2015, Adamcik got another hearing, who argued that some shady stuff went down with a character witness who could have changed the outcome of the sentencing, but in 2016, his request was denied. In 2017, he tried again, only to be denied again.
In 2012, the Supreme Court ruled in Miller v. Alabama that mandatory life sentences without the possibility of parole are unconstitutional for juveniles, even in the case of murder. In 2016, Montgomery v. Louisiana determined that this doctrine had to be retroactively applied to cases wherein juveniles at the time of the crime were sentenced to life without parole. Due to the development of their brain, the Supreme Court ruled that even children who committed heinous crimes were capable of change. Draper and Adamcik will be up for review under this doctrine. So there is a chance that their sentence will, one day, be changed.
"When we were younger, we were raised by our grandparents quite a bit," her brother, Andrew said. "Cassie was always the headstrong one out of all of our siblings. She was the one I always looked up to even though she wasn't the oldest one." He said they did everything together, always interested in the same stuff and the same places.
"I just miss having my sister there," he said.
Cassie was a typical teenage girl, with a love for music and drawing. "She was really artistic," Andrew said, noting that their mother has many of her drawings hung up on the wall. Andrew was at a friend's house when he found out that his sister had been murdered. He was comforted by everyone he was with, but was unable to process what was going on.
Andrew said that Cassie's death didn't impact anyone in their family more than others, and that everyone took it extremely hard, but in different ways - but, he did say that his mother had a very difficult time moving forward.
Andrew said he will never forgive his sister's killers for what they did.
Adamcik's parents have always maintained their son's innocence. Cassie's mother said, "It's just ridiculous, the parents need to get over their denial, realize that he did it, and he's going to spend the rest of his life in jail and he should. They still have their son. I have to visit my daughter in the cemetery. I didn't get to see her graduate or get married or have babies."
Brian's mother, Pamela, seemed to understand the weight of her son's crime. "We're just holding it together. Every time we see you, we just feel terrible," his father said to Cassie's mom. "I know it's our son, and we still feel the need to support him. But we just feel terrible."
It is, certainly, a tough situation to be the parents of the person who murdered an innocent person. And while I can understand still supporting your child, as in, perhaps visiting them and still, through a layer of anger, loving them, I cannot imagine not believing they did it when it is so clear that they did. To pity yourself over the family of the person they took from this world in an unimaginably brutal fashion.
I feel bad for the parents, for sure. Though their children are alive, I feel bad that they "lost" their children. But more than than, they realized that their children were absolute monsters who were capable of doing something so horrific for seemingly no reason at all. And that is certainly hard.
But Cassie's cousin had to find her brutally stabbed older cousin on her family's couch. Her aunt and uncle had to come inside and see their niece murdered. Her parents and siblings had to be told their beloved Cassie had been stabbed to death. She isn't in jail because of her own decisions. She is dead because of the decisions of 2 terrible people. And that's where the sympathy should lie.
Though I don't disagree that life in prison without the possibility of parole is a bit questionable for juveniles, I also don't think people who murdered an innocent person for no apparent reason in such a brutal fashion should be allowed to get out of jail while in their 40s. They could still live a very full life starting fresh in their 40s. Cassie will never get that opportunity, and I can't imagine how it would feel to be her loved ones, living a life alongside her killers. I will be interested to see how, if at all, their sentences change.
But for now, rot in prison Draper and Adamcik. For as long as the system will allow. And rest in peace, Cassie Jo Stoddart.