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When Women Kill: Alyssa Bustamante - Teenage Thrill Killer

Updated on August 14, 2014

When Women Kill: Alyssa Bustamante

Alyssa Bustamante was 15 years old when she committed one of the most shocking crimes in her American state of Missouri. The actions of Alyssa shook and outraged her entire country.

Here in this short and bite-sized biography we discover exactly who Alyssa is and the details of her shocking crime.

Alyssa posing just like any ordinary teen (Public Domain Image)
Alyssa posing just like any ordinary teen (Public Domain Image)

Alyssa's Life

Fifteen year old Alyssa Bustamante seemed to be an ordinary teenager from Missouri in the United States. Like most teenagers, Alyssa felt bored and that she needed more enjoyment in her life. We all know that the majority of teenagers seek this enjoyment by staying out late and going to parties, that's pretty much the norm in modern society.

But not for Alyssa.

Alyssa Bustamante was born on the 28th January 1994 to a teenage mother. Her mother was a petty criminal who engaged in acts such as drug possession. At the time of her birth and through her childhood, Alyssa's father was serving a 10 year jail sentence for a serious assault. Because of her mother's criminal activity, she was removed from her home at seven years old and placed in the care of a guardian. Her foster family were deeply religious and had a long bloodline of successful students, so Alyssa was pushed hard by the foster family. Alyssa had developed psychological difficulties as a result of her fractured and neglectful relationship with her birth parents, this made her foster family feel she was a problem child and a burden on the family. Which in turn only worsened her psychological state.

Through her early teenage years, Alyssa's mind grew darker and she developed a reputation as a bad girl and bully in her hometown. She began posting pictures of herself on social networks in bad girl poses such as teeth gritting, painting on gothic-like eye make-up and painting red on her lips to look like blood droplets.

Alyssa was depressed and self harmed regularly. But that wasn't something she hid, which is unusual for self-harmers. She proudly showed off her self harm cuts in photos online. She once even attempted suicide but survived.

Alyssa Bustamante (Public Domain Image)
Alyssa Bustamante (Public Domain Image)

A premeditated crime

A week before she murdered, she left a Tweet on Twitter: ''All I want in life; A reason for all this pain''.

On her Youtube account, she listed her hobbies as ''killing people, cutting'', though she hadn't actually killed yet.

The videos on her Youtube mostly featured her and her younger twin brothers playing around and doing all the silly stunts that kids do. With the exception for one disturbing video. In this particular video, she recorded herself being electrocuted by an electric fence as she screamed in pain, after the shock she was seen laughing on camera. She then encouraged her younger twin brothers, aged 9 at the time, in the video to copy her. Text flashes on the screen, saying: "This is where it gets good. This is where you see my brothers getting hurt!". The brothers obeyed their older sister, grabbed the electric fence and screamed, both ending up on the floor shuddering in pain as Alyssa laughed in the background behind the camera.

It was clear from the diary of Alyssa Bustamante, which was later confiscated by the police as evidence, that she was obsessed with the idea of finding out what it was like to kill someone.

One Friday afternoon, while on a break from school, while most kids were hanging out with their friends or staying indoors playing computer games, 15 year old Alyssa went to the local woodland. She then dug two holes, resembling graves, and concealed them.

Four days later, she found the opportunity to act out her desires.

Alyssa in one of her disturbing poses (Public Domain Image)
Alyssa in one of her disturbing poses (Public Domain Image)

The murder

Alyssa's neighbours had a young girl, a 9 year old called Elizabeth Olten.

On the 21st October 2009 at 6:15pm, Alyssa spotted Elizabeth walking home alone from a friends house as she had to be home by 7pm. Alyssa approached Elizabeth and walked alongside her. Elizabeth knew Alyssa as her neighbour so she naturally trusted her. The pair chatted about the things they normally would do as Alyssa walked her home, Elizabeth never suspected that Alyssa had bad intentions until it was too late.

As they approached the woodlands, Alyssa's plan hatched into motion.

She grabbed Elizabeth and dragged her into the woods as she begged Alyssa to stop. She then proceeded to badly beat Elizabeth with her bare hands, ignoring her cries and pleas. Eventually Alyssa pulled out a knife and used it to stab Elizabeth.

As Elizabeth was bleeding, Alyssa strangled her before finally slitting Elizabeth's throat with the knife.

Alyssa then dumped Elizabeth in one of the pre-dug graves she had prepared earlier, buried her and concealed the grave so well that even America's top forensic experts would walk by the grave later, not realising Elizabeth was right under their feet.

After the act, Alyssa simply walked home.

Elizabeth, aged 9. Alyssa's victim
Elizabeth, aged 9. Alyssa's victim

After the murder

As darkness fell, Elizabeth's parents grew worried. Elizabeth had a phobia of the dark, so they knew she wouldn't stay out as late. When the parents called the house of the friend she was staying at, they learned that Elizabeth already left her friends home some time ago.

The police were called and within minutes officers turned up at Elizabeth's house, right next door to Alyssa, who had gotten home. The police took down Elizabeth's details, circulated a photograph to all other officers via the computer in their police vehicle.

The hunt for Elizabeth has just begun.

Days passed and no trace of Elizabeth was found. The police were now afraid that she was abducted by a male sexual predator on her way home days before. By this time the FBI had gotten involved in the investigation. The FBI had managed to trace Elizabeth's last known mobile phone location through global tracking systems, the location was the local woodlands. The battery on the phone had died, so they could not get a live, exact location, only an estimated previously known location.

Armed with this new information, the police and FBI, alongside forensic investigators, descended upon the woodlands, which had already been searched previously by local police when Elizabeth was initially reported missing.

They couldn't find either Elizabeth or the phone. In fact it would later be revealed that Alyssa hid the grave so well that the highly trained investigators simply walked over her body.

Anonymous writings and arrest

Shortly after the police and FBI revealed that they are having difficulty locating Elizabeth, anonymous writings began showing up, talking about Elizabeth and the crime. The FBI quickly gained control over the anonymous messages and concealed these writings from the media because of their disturbing content. Forensic analysis and criminal profiling of the writings revealed that the suspect they are looking for is in fact a depressed female teenager, not a male sexual predator as the previous fears were. This information was made public, but not the content of the writings they found.

Soon enough they came up with a breakthrough. They had managed to link the writings with Alyssa Bustamante, the girl known locally as a bully. After a further check, the investigators found that Alyssa had an unexplained absence from school the day after the murder, which is unusual because Alyssa was a very punctual student who never missed a day of school, despite being classed as a rebel.

When the FBI visited Alyssa to question her as a potential suspect, to their surprise, she almost immediately and purposefully led them to Elizabeth's grave. She pointed out the exact spot of the burial, which was when the expert investigators realised that poor Elizabeth was laying right under their feet and they had just walked on by. Alyssa was arrested on the spot.

Alyssa's mugshot (Public Domain Image)
Alyssa's mugshot (Public Domain Image)

The diary

When questioned under arrest, Alyssa confessed to everything, stating it was a so-called "thrill kill". The FBI had raided her house and collected her computer and diary. It then became apparent to the investigators how Alyssa had spiralled out of control, led by her depression, into the path of darkness.

In the diary, the FBI found one paragraph on the day of Elizabeth's murder had been scribbled and scratched out. But using forensics, the FBI managed to recover what was written. It said:

''I just ****** killed someone. I strangled them and slit their throats and stabbed them. Now they're dead. I don't know how to feel ATM. It was ahmazing. As soon as you get over the 'Oh My Gawd. I can't do this' feeling it's pretty enjoyable. I'm kinda nervous and shaking though right now.''

Alyssa in court (Public Domain Image)
Alyssa in court (Public Domain Image)

Trial and remorse

In court, Alyssa at first entered a plea of not guilty, despite the confession and the mountain of evidence against her.

Later however she changed her plea to guilty. Which meant her sentence would be lighter.

Alyssa's defence made a big point that her depression, past childhood and self harm was the biggest blame that led to the events up to the murder. They particularly pointed out that her prescription of prozac had been doubled.

Prozac, an anti-depressant drug administered by doctors, has been linked to many violent outbursts and crimes all over the globe, so many that it is actually an illegal narcotic in most countries and is banned from being prescribed to patients in those countries. But not the US.

Alyssa was sentenced to life imprisonment. And because she had pleaded guilty, she was also granted the possibility of parole in the future.

Since being sent to prison for her life sentence, Alyssa has shown remorse for her actions. She has stated publicly that she regrets what she had done.

Alyssa has also told Elizabeth's family that she would sacrifice herself to bring Elizabeth back if she could.

Alyssa's 2014 appeal

Shortly after her trial, the US Supreme Court ruled that juveniles cannot face an automatic life sentence without the possibility of parole.

In January 2014 after turning 20 years old, Alyssa made an appeal against her guilty plea.

Alyssa stated that she did not understand the legal issues or the legal system at the time of her trial. She felt that the threat of life without parole (as she was too young to receive the death penalty) intimidated her into making the guilty plea. She also mentioned that she would not have accepted the plea if she was aware of the supreme ruling change.

The judge later denied Alyssa a new trial and declared that she must spend at least 35 years behind bars.

You can watch a newsreel of the event below.

The Images

All the images included in this article are public domain.

Read more

You can read more about Alyssa Bustamante, her crime and of other female or child killers in these intriguing books.

Deadly Darlings: The Horrifying True Accounts of Children Turned Into Murderers
Deadly Darlings: The Horrifying True Accounts of Children Turned Into Murderers

This book reveals the disturbing lengths youngsters will go to commit the ultimate murder.

SUGAR N' SPiCE: Teen Girls Who Kill (Women who kill)
SUGAR N' SPiCE: Teen Girls Who Kill (Women who kill)

This shocking book reveals all on how young girls have committed their crimes.


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