For Jodi Jones’s family one of the most troubling elements of the murder has been trying to understand just why Mitchell brutally killed the schoolgirl. No-one knows his motive.
Perhaps he murdered Jodi whilst under the influence of drugs, a theory supported by some police officers on the case.
But just what influence did his obsession with the occult and satanic worship – and in particular the musings of the controversial Goth rock star Marilyn Manson – have? Was the US cult killing of Elizabeth Short, the “Black Dahlia”, on his mind? There were certainly similarities in the way the victims were stabbed.
The youngster’s troubled life was also evident in some of his inexplicable habits, such as keeping bottles of urine in his room, and through letters he had written at school displaying a fixation with death.
According to Professor Anthony Busutill, the forensic pathologist who examined Jodi’s body, one of the most disturbing aspects of the girl’s murder was the knife wounds inflicted, strongly suggesting to him that drugs had played a major part in the killing.
“In my opinion – and I have seen many incredibly gruesome crime scenes down the years – in the case of the Jodi Jones murder the ferocity of the attack on her, particularly the horrific wounds to her neck and the deep knife piercings to her stomach, would suggest a frenzied attack. And I wouldn’t be entirely surprised if the killer had taken drugs and was having some kind of detachment from reality or an out-of-body experience. This was an astonishingly persistent and mutilating assault and there were over three hundred wounds inflicted on the girl. I had never seen anything like it.”
The suggestion that drugs played a part in the motive was backed up during the trial when the jury heard evidence that the teenager smoked the equivalent of 600 cannabis joints a week. Mitchell made the wild claims to cover up his dealing in the drug, but there is no doubt that he was a habitual user. The court also heard that police removed scales and polythene bags from Mitchell’s possession, which they concluded were for dealing in drugs.
Detective Superintendent Craig Dobbie, the head of Edinburgh CID, believes that Jodi’s murder was not pre-meditated, meaning the true motive for her killing may never be ascertained. He said: “We visited the [United] States on two occasions to the FBI behavioural science unit to understand the crime scene profile and behaviour surrounding the killing of Jodi Jones. We learned behavioural traits which were beneficial to us in understanding the killer more and the motive.
“If you look at the injuries, such as the bruising around the mouth and nose, and the blunt force trauma on the face as well as manual strangulation, cuts to the throat and post mortem wounds, it is fair to make some form of assessment that the murder wasn’t premeditated, as they suggest escalating violence.”
An enduring and disturbing aspect of the Jodi Jones murder trial was the constant comparisons between her killing and the unsolved death of the Hollywood actress, Elizabeth Short, in 1947 – later labelled the “Black Dahlia” case. The rock musician, Marilyn Manson, whom Mitchell has admitted hero-worshipping, had professed a particular obsession with the case.
The unsolved murder of Miss Short, which has inspired numerous crime books, happened as the 22-year-old actress from Massachusetts left home – like many before and since – to try to break into Hollywood. Her body was later found in Los Angeles, cut in half.
At the height of the Jodi case at the High Court in Edinburgh, members of the jury were shown a series of paintings by Manson. The jury was also shown pictures taken during the post mortem examination of the Dalkeith schoolgirl.
Detective Constable Adam Brunton said that images of the Manson pictures had been downloaded from the musician’s official website as part of the murder inquiry after they learned of Mitchell’s obsession with the cult singer and found similarities between the wounds inflicted on both women, particularly knife wounds to their mouths giving the impression that the victims were smiling.
Following the murder of Jodi much was immediately made of the fact that the 14-year-old and her circle, including Mitchell, appeared to be fans of heavy metal music, grunge bands such as Nirvana, shock-rocker Marilyn Manson and other trappings of “Goth” culture, with its pallid-faced overtones of morbidity. There was also talk of nocturnal music sessions in graveyards, black magic and even the ritual killing of animals amongst the group.
Mitchell revealed unhealthy thoughts and desires in schoolwork. The covers of his jotters were strewn with references to Satan, hell and fallen angels. “I offer my flesh, blood and soul to the dark lord of hell,” he wrote. And: “I have tasted the devil’s green blood.” And: “Life is merely an inconvenience between being born and going to hell.”
His English teacher was so disturbed by a couple of essays he had written that she referred him to guidance staff, believing he needed help.
To get inside the mind of Mitchell it is important to first understand his family background. He came from a broken home, lived with his mother, Corinne, 45, and older brother, Shane, 23, in a detached villa in a modern housing estate in Newbattle, Dalkeith. His mother, a caravan dealer in nearby Mayfield, had been adopted and is herself unsure of her roots. His father, Phil, lives in Livingston, West Lothian. Mitchell would visit him regularly at weekends and had his own room in the house but relations between the parents remained edgy and strained.
Friends of Mitchell say he had a disturbing dark side and tell of a “really bad temper” which caused him to lash out at school and while playing in the street.
A 17-year-old who went to school with Mitchell explained to the police how he witnessed him snap on occasions. “I know he has a really bad temper because he would do mad, stupid things like one day at school in the dinner queue one of our friends pushed to the front and Luke just turned round and punched him in the face.”
Another friend claimed his mother let him use drugs at home. He said: “We used to go round to his house because his mum let him get away with anything, so we could drink and smoke in her house when we were just 14.” A friend’s stepmother, Anne-Marie Inkster, 34, said she was “horrified” when she came home one evening to find Mitchell and Jodi in her bed smoking dope.
Mitchell was also shown to have a deep and unhealthy interest in knives, a highly questionable liking of things satanic, all added to his huge appetite for cannabis. And in spite of being only 14, he also cheated on girls to whom he had pledged love, seeing and having sex with two girls who, eerily, could have been mistaken for twins.
He liked to handle knives and show them off, bragging that he knew how to slit someone’s throat. Mitchell once even talked to his closest friends of imagining himself getting stoned and killing somebody, and how funny it would be.
Equally difficult to dismiss, however, was his perverse and disgusting habit of storing bottles of urine in his bedroom. These were not specimen-sized bottles, and there were more than 20 found by the police on two separate occasions.
The best Mitchell could offer as an explanation was that, once, he had missed the ladders while trying to climb down half asleep from his cabin bed in the middle of the night and fell and banged his face and woke up everyone else in the house. From then on, instead of getting up to go to the toilet, he used a bottle. He seemed not to have emptied the bottle in the morning, but to have built up a collection.