Police have been trying to figure out who killed a 22-year-old man for eight months. Now, they say a 16-year-old has confessed to the murder.
Jason Paul died in January of this year after he was stabbed while riding his bicycle home from work near Crest Lake Park. Police say Mychal King has confessed to killing Paul.
King, 16, allegedly told them he did it because he had been fighting with his family that day and "just wanted to kill the first person" he saw.
The case is the latest in a string of high-profile acts of violence by teenagers. A 13-year-old St. Petersburg boy was charged with shooting a 15-year-old after being taunted. In Oklahoma, one of three teenagers charged with the murder of a jogger said they acted out of boredom.
Despite the headlines, USF professor of criminology Kathleen Heide told FOX 13 News that juvenile homicide is down after peaking in 1993 during the crack cocaine epidemic.
Heide is the author of three books on homicidal adolescents and said physiology plays a major role.
"The last area of the brain to develop is the pre-frontal cortex, which is the area of the brain associated with thinking, and deliberation and judgment," Heide explained.
Offenders also lack any empathy or connection with their victims.
"It's as if that individual, for that moment, meaning the victim, is simply an object in their way, or an object toward their gratification, or an object on which to act out," she continued.
Jason Paul's mother knows how wrong that misperception can be. Describing her son, Renee Langfritz said Paul, "...had good friends, had a girlfriend he was madly in love with. They were getting ready to move in together...he wanted to go to school to be a vet tech."
Paul was riding his bicycle home from one of his two jobs when King confronted him. Clearwater police chief Anthony Holloway said, after the murder, King gave the knife used in the crime to a friend, who later turned it over to detectives.
Detectives say King has a long criminal history and was already in jail on other charges.
"He just had a whole bright future ahead of him," Langfritz added. "It just makes me sick that someone could do this to someone who's so innocent and so full of life."
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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