The Rittenhouse Review

A Philadelphia Journal of Politics, Finance, Ethics, and Culture

Wednesday, June 18, 2003  

Kids Today. Hell, Adults Today.

Kids today. They think they’re so grown up. So mature. So original.

Below are excerpts from the latest Philadelphia Inquirer report on a recent murder here (“Tale of Teen’s Betrayal: Music, Murder, Hugs,” by Jacqueline Soteropoulos, June 18):

Four teenagers planned the killing for weeks, listened repeatedly on the day to the song linked to mass murderer Charles Manson, and then came together for a “group hug” after they beat to death 16-year-old Jason Sweeney in a vacant Fishtown lot, according to alleged confessions from two of them.

[Tuesday], all four were ordered to stand trial for the killing that the judge described as “something out of the Dark Ages.”

Fifteen-year-old Justina Morley lured Sweeney to his death with the promise of sex, while the three boys donned latex gloves and lay in wait, according to the confessions.

“We just kept hitting and hitting him,” 18-year-old Dominic Coia told detectives. “We took Sweeney’s wallet and split up the money, and we partied beyond redemption.”

Coia and 16-year-old Edward Batzig Jr. told investigators that Sweeney was beaten with a hammer, a hatchet and a rock. The four then divided the $500 take among them -- $125 apiece -- and purchased marijuana, heroin[,] and the depressant Xanax….

Sweeney suffered multiple, powerful blows to the skull, testified Philadelphia Deputy Medical Examiner Ian Hood.

“The head was literally crushed. The only bone intact in his face was the left cheekbone,” Hood testified as Sweeney’s mother wept openly….

Detectives testified that Dominic Coia told investigators that in the hours before the slaying, the four teens “must have listened to ‘Helter Skelter’ about 42 times” -- referring to the Beatles song that Manson said inspired him during his followers’ 1969 California killing spree.

Morley was “the bait to get Sweeney there,” Dominic Coia told investigators…. [Ed.: Coia’s 16-year-old brother, Nicholas Coia, also has been ordered to stand trial.]

[After the killing,] “She [Morley] said she was happy she had a lot of money…she said it was a rush,” [a friend,] Joshua Staab, testified.

Batzig -- once Sweeney’s best friend -- told investigators: “We just walked up and started hitting him….Soon after that, Jason started begging for his life.”

Batzig told detectives he struck the first blow, and hit Sweeney with a hatchet “four or five times…as hard as I could.”

After Sweeney stopped breathing, Dominic Coia told detectives, the four teens engaged in “a group hug. It was like we were all happy with what we did.”

Was he high at the time?, detectives asked Dominic Coia.

“No. I was as sober as I am now. It is sick, isn’t it?” he responded.

Yes, sick. As sick as Manson himself.

And in the same edition of the same newspaper, we read this story out of South Jersey:

Prosecutors will seek the death penalty for a man accused of incinerating his infant son in the fireplace of the family’s Burlington City home after beating him to death last year.

Kevin Abrahams, 26, pleaded not guilty Monday to murdering Sage Tyler Morgan-Abrahams, who was about 8 months old when he died in April 2002.

Police received a call last June from the infant’s maternal grandmother, who said that she had not seen Sage in a while and that his parents had left town. Police went to the house and found the burned remains in a box in the bedroom closet. Abrahams and the baby’s mother, Jessica Morgan, were arrested in Florida.

Prosecutors have said Morgan was not involved in the beating or burning of her son. She told prosecutors that Abrahams had beaten Sage because he was mad at her for knocking over a container of marijuana.

It’s like you can’t even make this stuff up. I’m going to go hug my dog or something.

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