Convicted of Murder at Ages 12 and 13, Brother and Sister to be Released 18 Years Later

Saturday, July 25, 2015
Catherine and Curtis Jones (photo: Florida Department of Corrections)

The youngest convicted murderers in U.S. history will soon be released from prison in Florida.


Curtis Fairchild Jones and his sister, Catherine, were 12 and 13 years old, respectively, when they pleaded guilty to the second-degree murder in 1999 of Sonya Nicole Speights, the girlfriend of their father.


Authorities at first believed the children had killed Speights out of jealousy. But then child welfare reports surfaced, indicating Curtis and Catherine may have been sexually abused by a family relative. The siblings intended to kill the relative as well as Speights and their father, presumably because they weren’t doing anything to stop the abuse.

Their natural mother, who is white, had previously fled because she was being abused. The children’s father wouldn’t let them go, however, and the mother’s family didn’t want the children because they were half-black.


Just prior to the murder, “Catherine was showering when she heard the bathroom door open. The relative had come in to watch her. He masturbated while she cowered crying in the corner of the bathtub, Catherine said,” according to Florida Today.


That night, before killing Speights with their father’s 9mm handgun, Catherine wrote in her journal: “I’m gonna kill everybody.” They only got as far as shooting Speights, after which “they ran into the woods near their Port St. John home and hid until police located them in the morning,” John Torres reported.


They were the youngest children to be charged as adults with first-degree murder. They accepted a plea of second-degree murder and were sentenced to 18 years in prison followed by probation for life.


Curtis is scheduled to be released in less than two weeks, while Catherine will be freed next month.


The 12-year-old boy now a 29-year-old man became an ordained minister while in prison. But he has “very little knowledge of the real world. He also leaves with the burden of a lifetime of probation, which one lawyer described to me as having one foot on a banana peel and one foot in the Department of Corrections,” Torres wrote.


Catherine found love and married a pen pal while serving her time. She wrote Florida Today last year, “After spending all of my teenage years and most of my young adulthood behind bars, I’m being released into a foreign society so different from what I left behind. Of course there are fears, mainly because there’s so much I must learn to function like a normal person: how to drive, fill out job applications, text, dress for a job interview, build my credit, obtain life, dental, medical insurance. I’m completely clueless. The idea of being 30 and completely dependent on others to teach me how to do these basic things isn’t appealing. I’ll leave prison just as clueless as I was at 13.”

-Noel Brinkerhoff, Steve Straehley


To Learn More:

Brevard’s Youngest Murderer Will Soon Be Free (by John Torres, Florida Today)

Is A Fresh Start Possible For Young Brevard Killer? (by John Torres, Florida Today)


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