Goth rock music, superficial dabbling with the occult and heavy eye make-up are adolescent phases most teenagers grow out of as quickly as they leave behind their black and baggy clothes.
But for Luke Mitchell, an interest in such things was far more sinister.
Just 14 years old when he murdered Jodi Jones, Mitchell had the desire to court among his peers the notoriety the rock stars he idolised had gained on stage. But while artists such as Marilyn Manson may revel in cartoonesque violence merely to shock, Mitchell carried it out for real.
Numerous witnesses in the trial told how Mitchell would show them knives and boast of how funny it would be to kill someone. He scrawled slogans such as “Satan, master lead us into hell” on his jotters, and handed in school essays boasting of how he was in league with the devil.
Mitchell also had a heavy cannabis habit and dealt the drug to friends at school. His party tricks were stubbing out lighted cigarettes on his hand and carving 666 on his arm with a compass.
No one, except Mitchell, knows why such bravado escalated into murderous violence.
The trial judge, Lord Nimmo Smith, said he could only guess. “I have no idea why you did what you did,” he told Mitchell. “Maybe it was a desire for notoriety, to achieve something grotesque.”
For Mitchell did have an obsession with the grotesque. When police searched his home, they found, in his squalid bedroom, 20 bottles of urine they believe may have been prepared for a satanic ritual.
They also took away Marilyn Manson DVDs featuring women tied up, with the singer’s artwork depicting the Black Dahlia murder in 1947 California.
Throughout the trial, Mitchell showed no emotion. Although witnesses had to be helped from the court after seeing photographs of Jodi’s mutilated body, the teenager never so much as winced.
Detectives said he was “contemptuous” when interviewed, and he believed he was “above” their inquiries.
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