Article first published on Medium
LUNCH, WITH A SIDE OF MURDER
On a clear crisp January day in 2005, a man walked across a Taco Bell parking lot intent on a well-earned lunch break. He didn’t make it… at least not yet.
A car in the lot wrestled the man’s attention away from his hunger. No, not because the particular automobile was especially cool. This red 4-door Geo Prizm was nothing eye-catching even when it was new, which this one was not. Instead, it was the motions of the parked vehicle that caught his attention. The up-and-down bouncing and the back-and-forth jerking continued as he paused to watch. The windows, reacting to the collision of warm and cold air, created a thickening frost shield from the outside world.
The man took a moment and considered his options. Should he intervene? After all, even if the car was just responding to the amore within, this was noon in a fast-food parking lot, not twilight on some hilltop lover’s lane. Still, was it his business to get involved? Everyone else around him seemed to ignore the scene—why shouldn’t he?
Regrettably, what those nearby didn’t know from the bouncing and what they couldn’t see through the windows was a tragedy in the making. In that spot, sandwiched between a busy drive-thru lane and a major city avenue, a desperate 16-year-old girl struggled. One against two; she fought for her very survival. As the man wrote the scene off to teenage shenanigans and continued on his path to lunch, the last gasps of this young girl’s future went up in smoke, her bodily remains soon to follow.
There was yet another secret that remained obscured from those who dined nearby on that fateful day. The other girl present, the owner of that vehicle, had constantly and consistently threatened various forms of murder on her family, lovers, friends, classmates, and strangers for years. Her words of malice and violence, both verbal and written, had yet gone unheeded. Unfortunately for Adrianne, this time Sarah Kolb had kept her word…
THE MURDER OF ADRIANNE REYNOLDS
This case has a very personal connection for me, in large part because I grew up in the area where this series of tragic events took place. By “in the area,” I actually mean within a stone’s throw, as they say. For added context, if I were to walk out the door of my childhood home and start playing whatever top 40 hit was on the radio, I could reach the Taco Bell on foot before the song ended. Yes, that close.
To be fair, I should tell you that the location is no longer a Taco Bell. The restaurant moved shortly after this incident to a new location down the street. The old spot now stands as a testament to one horrific event, mixed with happy childhood memories of enjoying my favorite chili cheese burrito. Taco Bell, if you are listening, bring those doggone things back because they were outstanding.
Further, it’s not just the murder location that was close to my childhood home. I attended the same junior high school that Adrianne did, albeit a couple of years before her. I also passed the Black Hawk Outreach Center nearly every day. I knew then, and still know now, some of her people. Welcome to town life in middle America.
In 2005, when these horrific events took place, I was in graduate school in Memphis, Tennessee. But, like any good Midwestern boy, I followed the happenings of my hometown. These events in particular I followed closely. I tuned in to each twist and turn, reacting with the same shock and horror as my family and friends still present. I hurt deeply for her family and friends; I still do. Back in Memphis, I kept repeating the same thing they did—these things just don’t happen where I am from, they just don’t. But this time they did…
I want to acknowledge both the Quad-City Times and the NBC News articles from the period, and their continued coverage years after. These pieces were instrumental in aiding my recall and research about this case. Further, I want to offer a special thanks and acknowledgment to the incredibly hard-working and detail-oriented true-crime writer, M. William Phelps. His book ‘Too Young to Kill’ was an amazing resource. If you haven’t purchased and read this work, you absolutely should—you won’t be able to put it down.
WELCOME TO MIDDLE AMERICA
The scene of this tragic event in 2005 was Moline, Illinois. Moline is just one of the four towns that make up the Quad Cities. The Quad Cities span the Illinois and Iowa border, divided by the mighty Mississippi River, with the towns of Davenport and Bettendorf in southeastern Iowa connected by bridges to the towns of Rock Island, Moline, and East Moline in northwestern Illinois.
Now, before you point out that there are more than 4 cities listed above, I can tell you that this fact is not lost on her near half-million area residents. There have been decades of motions to change to the Quint Cities but, like most of Middle America, she is stubborn in her ways and rarely quick to change. This issue further becomes muddied by her numerous border towns—such as Silvis and Milan on the Illinois side, and Riverdale and Pleasant Valley Township on the Iowa side—whose vague borders are barely discernible as you drive in and out of them.
The area has several claims to fame, but the two biggest are John Deere and the Rock Island Arsenal. John Deere, the world-famous agricultural, construction, and forestry equipment manufacturer, was founded in the area and has held her headquarters going all the way back to 1848. The Rock Island Arsenal is a United States Army installation located on Arsenal Island between Davenport, Iowa, and Rock Island, Illinois. It dates back to 1816, then called Fort Armstrong. It is now the site of the single largest government-owned weapons manufacturing site in America for our Armed Forces. Farming and guns; you can’t get more Middle America than that.
Speaking of the military, Sara Anne Kolb was born April 23, 1988, in Germany to an American military family abroad. While traveling all over the world can certainly have its perks, military life can be a rough mistress in any relationship. Like many before them, her parents’ marriage buckled under the pressure. By 1996, her parents, who were living in Idaho by that time, had finalized their divorce. Her mother completed the break by taking Sarah and returning to the Illinois Quad City area. They settled in the small town of Milan, mere miles from where her maternal grandparents owned a farm.
After their return to the Quad Cities, Sarah continued to live with her mother. However, during that time, their relationship became increasingly strained, mainly due to her growing behavioral problems and issues with authority. Continuing what was once bad, soon turned to worse. Her mother added a new man/father figure into the picture. Out of respect for their right to privacy, I will leave them unnamed. However, what I will say is that Sarah did not get along with her new stepfather, nor did he with her. This additional rocky relationship resulted in a marked increase in her acting out, with running away now becoming an ongoing theme in Sarah’s home life.
During this period of Sara’s childhood and early adolescence, her biological father remained in Idaho, working as a Deputy Sheriff. His interactions with his daughter during that time were spotty, at best. He had no visits with his daughter from the age of 6 until she turned 12, at which time Sarah took a trip to Idaho to see him. At 13, her father made time for a brief visit to the Quad Cities to see her. A year later, at 14, Sarah returned to Idaho for a third, and what would turn out to be their last reunion before the events of 2005. By that final time, the writing was on the wall: Sarah had changed so drastically, and she showed so little respect to the man as a father or as a Police Officer, that he was forced to end the visit early and send Sarah back to her mother.
It appears her issues with authority started young and only grew worse as she grew older. Sarah Kolb is most often described as an angry person, impulsive, mean-spirited, cruel, domineering, paranoid, and even a split personality. When she loved, Sarah loved deeply and obsessively, when she hated, it was much the same—and she could switch between the two on a dime. With Sarah, I want to marry you and I want to murder you could happen in the same breath.
Sarah was also known to frequently muse, both written and out loud, about what it would be like to murder someone, and then get away with it. Unfortunately, she would come to know the first part, but thankfully not the second. In the meantime, threatening others directly with physical harm, slitting their throat, murdering them and cutting them into pieces, or other even more colorful threats were becoming a commonplace pastime for Sarah.
How far into Sarah’s past her fascination with murder and the macabre went, we do not know. However, she claimed that a major turning point was witnessing the events around a relative’s suicide. Although we can’t verify this as a root cause, what we do know is that she found a group that not only accepted these traits and behaviors but allowed her to elevate them to a whole new level—the Juggalos.
Juggalo is the name used by the ultra-hardcore fan base of the rap group, the Insane Clown Posse. The early base of the ICP developed between 1989 and 1991, when friends Joseph Bruce and Joseph Utsler transitioned their original Detroit group ‘Inner City Posse’ to the ‘Insane Clown Posse’ and began producing and recording their horror and supernatural centered hip-hop. The ICP is still active today and continues to record under their ‘Psychopathic Records’ independent label.
Many who study this case dig deep into the Juggalo angle and lay much of the blame on this group and its subculture. I tend to disagree. While I have no doubt that their lyrics are disturbing to a majority of people, and most of us don’t feel the need to emulate their dress or paint our faces like sadistic clowns, I believe that drawing a direct correlation between being a so-called ‘Juggalo’ and the heinous murder of Adrianne Reynolds is a vast oversimplification and scapegoating. Even though Sarah Kolb was highly involved with the local Juggalo group, and may even have been on her way to becoming their de facto leader, there is plenty of evidence that this girl was broken long before her encounter with the Insane Clown Posse group culture.
Sarah briefly attended Rock Island High School, which she left with no degree, achievements, or accolades. However, in her wake, were a significant number of her peers carrying terrible scars and memories of their experiences with Sarah during that short time. Among those who felt threatened would include her girlfriends during that time, as Sarah was also openly bisexual. Her obsessive possessiveness and jealousy, while possibly endearing at the beginning of a high school-style romance, was often the cause of its demise and frequently resulted in her post-relationship terrorizing.
Her brief stint at a traditional high school ended with Sarah’s transfer to an alternative school. In 2003, at the age of 15, Sarah began attending the Black Hawk Outreach Center.
THE BLACK HAWK OUTREACH CENTER
The Black Hawk Outreach Center, still in existence today, hosts an alternative GED program to provide those students who, for varied reasons, cannot finish their education in a traditional high school setting. Their students attend only morning classes, which are specifically designed to prepare them to take, and pass, each section of the GED exam. For most of the BHOC students, this is their last chance to either earn a diploma or enter the world permanently as a drop-out.
It was during her time at the Outreach Center that Sarah would meet, and ensnare, another participant in this tragic tale, Cory Gregory.
Cory Charles Gregory was born on November 2, 1987. Although Cory would later become Sara Kolb’s part henchman and part patsy, he did not start out that way. In fact, many remember the younger Cory as being friendly, shy, and sweet—the type of guy that would give you the shirt off his back, if you asked. The boy was an artist and a poet; a romantic. At least, that’s who Cory was before drug and alcohol use entered his life.
According to those who knew him later, drugs and alcohol all but consumed the boy he once was. These substances left behind someone who would try any, and every, fix he could get his hands on. Whether this awakened something that was always hiding there within or twisted him into someone he never intended, I don’t think we will ever really know. What we do know for certain is that he changed. Cory became unpredictable, sullen, and withdrawn one minute, then inexplicably violent the next. People have differing opinions about the changes in his life—the when, why, and how—but the one constant and predictable thing they agree on was Cory’s cult-like devotion to Sarah Kolb.
Cory met Sarah during his sophomore year at the local mall. They went behind a department store to have a smoke, which turned to sharing a joint, which turned to sharing interests and life experiences, which turned to Cory falling fast and hard for Sarah Kolb. Love at first sight. Head over heels, as they say. Well, for Cory, anyway… for Sarah, not so much.
From nearly the very first moment they crossed paths, Sarah could talk Cory into anything. This power included convincing him to drop out of his current school and becoming her sidekick at the Outreach Center. Cory made this move without his family’s permission or blessing. Instead, the boy presented them with a done deal, after the fact. Sarah dictated, and he obeyed.
Sarah also introduced him to the Juggalo lifestyle and, as with all things Sara Kolb, he fell right in step. Her growing control over his life did not go unnoticed. It is often said that people couldn’t tell whether it was just his romantic delusions that maybe if he just hung in there and became whatever she wanted, Sarah would grow to requite his love, or that Sarah had simply bewitched the boy. Either way, it wasn’t long before everyone saw Cory as a puppy on a leash, following Sarah as she continued to dangle the possibility of will she or won’t she.
This unbalanced relationship status quo between Sara and Cory remained until late 2004. It was then that the newcomer, Adrianne Reynolds, showed up at the Black Hawk Outreach Center. The new girl would not only dare to threaten Sarah’s status in her social circle, but attempt to weaken Cory’s chain in the bargain. Thus began the whirlwind three months that, on January 21st, 2005, would end with Adrianne’s murder.
Adrianne Leigh Reynolds was born in El Dorado, Arkansas, on September 12, 1988. Her birthmother, Carolyn, was 16 at the time and nowhere near ready to be a parent. Her biological father was even less so. As fate would have it, Tony Reynolds was living in El Dorado at the time. He had met and fell for Beverly, Carolyn’s mother. While Carolyn was pregnant, Tony moved in and later married the soon-to-be maternal grandmother.
To make matters even more interesting, shortly after her birth, the maternal grandmother, Beverly, and marital grandfather, Tony, agreed to adopt Adrianne. The two thereby became not only Adrianne’s grandparents, but her legal parents and guardians as well. This arrangement also made Carolyn’s daughter, at least on paper, now her sister.
Unfortunately, after only a few years, the marriage between Tony and Beverly soured. In 1992, three-year-old Adrianne’s adoptive parents divorced. Even though Adrianne was his daughter by adoption, Tony continued to love and care for her, including consistent visitations and continued child support payments.
In 1995, the now six-year-old Adrianne was once again uprooted. Beverly moved Adrianne and Carolyn to Longview, Texas, where she was born and raised. Despite this extra distance, Tony continued to make the extra effort to be a part of Adrianne’s life. He would travel to see her, and continued meeting up with young Adrianne when Beverly returned to see her family and friends back in El Dorado.
During their time in Longview, Carolyn was trying desperately to get her own life on track. She met a man, got married, and had another child. With her new family, she now wanted Adrianne back. So, once again, Adrianne found herself shuffled into a new family environment. However, her new life would not find stability for long.
Two major events occurred in succession that once again changed the trajectory of Adrianne’s life: First, her birthmother, Carolyn, divorced her new stepfather. Then her adoptive father, Tony, went to prison for selling Crystal Meth. Soon after that shakeup, Carolyn introduced another stepfather into the picture, and the next six years of Adrianne’s young life only compounded the issues she faced during her first six.
Whether it was the instability of the life that she experienced nearly from birth, her new home life that included being left unsupervised for extended periods, or existing psychological issues that were never addressed, Adrianne’s life took a shockingly quick and steep downward spiral. In fact, she just couldn’t seem to hit bottom. By the age of 12, Adrianne had already racked up three assault charges and an extended stint in rehab. Nearing the end of 2003, by the age of 14, Adrianne was living a hard life of drugs, alcohol, and promiscuous sex that would put any middle-aged addict to shame.
What shouldn’t come as a surprise is that, by this time, the state of Texas had gotten involved in her life. However, what might come as a surprise is the reason: accusations made by Adrianne of sexual assault by her stepfather, and physical assaults and threats of murder committed by her mother.
I am going to jump ahead into the future for a moment and mention that these cases were never proven, and any charges made were later dropped. Adrianne herself confessed to the judge that she made up the sexual assault charges. However, it’s worth noting that there are still plenty of people who believe those accusations to be true, including the original investigator of those charges. I am going to leave my personal thoughts for a later section and stick here to the facts: nobody to date has been convicted stemming from any of these charges.
Near the end of 2003, the state stepped in and removed Adrianne from Carolyn. However, Carolyn reached out to Tony. Rather than leave her at the mercy of the foster care system, Carolyn begged the man to take Adrianne. Tony, who had recently reconnected with them and was making an active effort to rebuild their relationship, seemed like the best probable answer to their current troubled situation.
While Adrianne’s life back in Texas was falling further and further apart, Tony had completed his prison sentence and was now back in his previous home state of Illinois. Once settled in East Moline, he had worked hard to pull his life together. His efforts included landing a good job, finding a home, and even marrying his high school sweetheart, Joann. Although he had lost touch with Carolyn and Adrianne during his time in prison and during his later struggles to rebuild his life, Tony was a stand-up guy who clearly felt obligated to come to Adrianne’s aid. He agreed to take her, despite the fact that he was still on parole and Joann had serious reservations about this move.
Joann’s misgivings were certainly understandable, especially given that by all accounts Adrianne could be more than a handful to handle and had also leveled some serious accusations against her family in Texas. Joann was both a wife and mother of two boys living in the home—she understood all too well that if anything with Adrianne went sideways, true or false, it could quickly destroy the family life they had worked so hard to build.
Despite the inherent risks, Tony and Joann allowed 14-year-old Adrianne a chance to come to Illinois and live with them and their boys. They made every attempt to provide her with a disciplined and stable home life. The two also made efforts to correct her floundering academic life by enrolling her in Glenview Middle School. Even though every day with her was a struggle—Adrianne hated school and the work it entailed—they managed to get her through the school year. However, just surviving the constant grind and never-ending battles with Adrianne had worn them out and, when she told them she missed Texas and wanted to move back, they were more than willing to let her go.
Adrianne recanted the previous abuse charges, confessing she made them all up, and was allowed to return to Texas and her mother. (If the timing of her confession seems suspect to you, don’t worry, it does to me too, and we will go into this a bit later.) Adrianne’s stay in Texas turned out to be an action-packed, temporary stay of just 4 months.
Starting nearly from the time of her arrival, Adrianne and her mother were back battling against each other. The endless cycle of fighting, drugs, drinking, and running away quickly became the normal behavior of Adrianne once again. After just a few months, Adrianne made it clear she would not continue living with her mother. However, she also argued against leaving Texas and her friends. Her solution? Adrianne had the bright idea of moving in with her latest boyfriend. Her mother, well, she had a differing opinion. Once again, Carolyn reached out to Tony. In late 2004, after some intense back-and-forth between Tony and Adrianne, she agreed to return to East Moline to live with Tony and Joann. Adrianne, now 15 and fast approaching 16, packed herself up and changed her residence, school, friends, and authority figures for yet another time.
Because of Adrianne’s behavioral and academic issues, Tony and Joann felt that the Black Hawk Outreach Center had the best chance of getting young Adrianne’s life back on track. A decision, one that seemed so right at the time, would result in a series of events over the next three short months that would call that singular choice into question for many years to come.
WHEN WORLDS COLLIDE
Up to this point, we have focused on the negative life events that led Adrianne to the Black Hawk Outreach Center. However, there was so much more to this young woman, or “Lil’ Bit” as they fondly nicknamed her, than the sum of her experiences. In fact, I would go so far as to argue that it was the positive aspects of Adrianne that made her a target of Sarah Kolb, rather than the negatives.
Whatever her misgivings about the toils of schoolwork, Adrianne was employed at a local Checkers restaurant franchise and was known as a hardworking and very dependable employee. It was actually her dedication to her job that alerted her family so quickly about her disappearance. She was also a singer, and by all accounts, a very talented one—like ‘American Idol’ or ‘The Voice’ might not have been just a crazy dream, kind of good. Adrianne was seriously talking about joining the Marines, which shows a selfless side to her character. Many of her peers also considered her as beautiful, charismatic, loyal, protective, and fun-loving. Further, it was not only her good looks that attracted attention, but it was also her spirit. Adrianne was a fighter. She was known as someone who stood up for herself and others, regardless of the situation or the odds. The girl had grit.
When Adrianne arrived at the Outreach Center, like most teenagers, what she wanted most was to be liked and to fit in. Unfortunately, she was often willing to pay too high a price for that benefit. Most of us come to eventually realize this cost-benefit and have a chance to correct our course. This is all a part of growing up and maturing. Unfortunately, Adrianne would never get that chance.
By the time Adrianne arrived back in the Quad Cities and started attending the Black Hawk Outreach Center, Sarah Kolb had consolidated her power. Kolb was not only the queen bee of the social misfit tribe at the alternative school but was also now a powerful leader within the local Juggalos. However, from day one, Adrianne had no problem attracting attention. Her good looks and cute Texas twang turned many heads at the school. This included Sarah Kolb, who, upon spotting the new student, is known to have commented on her hotness and expressed an interest in getting to know her.
Sexual orientation or preferences play a pretty major role in this case. Even today, there seems to be some discrepancy in opinions as to whether Adrianne was bisexual, bi-curious, or sexually interested in women at all. On the one hand, we have a series of handwritten notes from Adrianne to Sarah that express an interest in Sarah that, at the very least, rise to the level of bi-curious. It’s possible that Adrianne had a sincere sexual interest in females and true romantic feelings for Kolb. However, on the other hand, we also know Adrianne was a savvy and streetwise girl. One could argue that it took Adrianne little time to recognize Sarah as the alpha of the pack. Given that Kolb’s sexual preferences were no secret, perhaps Adrianne saw playing coy at expressing sexual interest as merely a means and opportunity to get near the charismatic leader. Either way, there appears to be no evidence that the two actually physically hooked up.
Sarah Kolb, for her part, made no secret of expressing a serious interest in Adrianne as a romantic partner and potential mate—with the added caveat of wanting to take the progression of the relationship slowly. Sara had confessed to several people that an older woman had recently burned her, and she wasn’t looking for a repeat performance. Still, over a relatively short period of time, Sarah brought Adrianne further into her social group’s inner circle.
During this grooming period, Adrianne’s popularity soared. However, in the often-murky world of teenage clickdom, it’s not clear whether Adrianne’s star rose as the cause-effect of popularity by association, or simply because Adrianne was a shining light in her own right. What we do know for certain is that resulting popularity set off the ever-present paranoia in Sarah Kolb. She expressed her concerns to Cory that Adrianne may just be an impostor in their group, not really one of them. Worse yet, she may be a potential power rival. Kolb demanded absolute loyalty from those in her inner circle and decided it was time to put Adrianne to the test.
THE PARTY THAT CHANGED EVERYTHING
A few of the area Juggalos rented a house together in Rock Island. This house quickly turned into a crash pad and clubhouse for their local hardcore Juggalo crew. On this fateful night, Sarah brought Adrianne into her group’s inner-sanctum—not for the casual hang or meet-and-greet she sold to Adrianne, but as a twisted loyalty test that bordered on a purity examination.
As soon as they arrived, Sarah immediately took to spreading the word around the house that the new cute Texan she brought with her was there to get laid. This planned manipulation had two parts: First, Sarah made it clear to Adrianne that she was cool with the girl getting some action. Second, Sarah made it clear to the party attendees that she was giving her consent by acting as a facilitator to Adrianne’s coupling. The trap was set.
At first, it seems that Sarah Kolb would have found either outcome acceptable. If Adrianne stayed chaste, she would show herself to be both a good girlfriend and loyal follower material. If, however, Adrianne went ahead and jumped into bed with someone she just met, Sarah would have the proof that she was a “slut” and a “poser.” This outcome would give Kolb all the ammunition she would need to get Adrianne shunned.
However, as the party got into full swing, Sarah appears to have changed her mind. As she watched everyone flock to Adrianne and shower her with attention, only one outcome became acceptable in Kolb’s paranoid mind—Adrianne was a threat, and she must destroy the new girl.
Under the guise of being a good wingwoman, Sarah stepped up her campaign to fulfill Adrianne’s carnal desires. The plan worked. Adrianne started complaining about a headache and was offered the basement as a place to lie down. Shortly after directing Adrianne to a bedroom, Kory (with a K) was sent down to “take care of her.” As it turned out, Sarah’s scheming worked.
Later that night, she took Adrianne home, showing no hint that she objected to that night’s events or to the hell she was planning to unleash on Adrianne in the coming days.
Those next few days after the party marked a drastic turning point in Adrianne’s life and, I can only imagine, came as quite a shock to her. It was almost as if she went from the life of the party that everyone wanted to get to know, to a complete social pariah, all in just a matter of a few hours. Whore. Slut. Spreads around like Jiffy. Stay away, unless you like STDs. Those are just some of the descriptors bandied about during those following days.
It didn’t take anyone long, including Adrianne herself, to track the source of those hateful assaults on her character. Sarah had spoken, and the word was the new girl is out. Not being one to take anything lying down, Adrianne attempted to face the matter head-on. She first attempted to reach out to Sarah and fix the situation. Even though Adrianne was confused why there was even an issue–given that Sarah made it clear she had her blessing–Adrianne went so far as to even apologize for her actions. Regardless of all her efforts, Sarah rebuffed all attempts to reconcile. So, even though she was now the outcast of the outcasts, Adrianne refused to slink away and hide.
Just two days later, Adrianne returned to the party house. This time she arrived without Sarah. It should come as no surprise that this cute, funny, bright, and charismatic teen girl was not exactly turned away by the boys of the house. However, another girl who was present did not feel the same, and she reached out to let Sarah know Adrianne was at the house. Not to be outdone, Sarah quickly made her own appearance. When she arrived, Kolb quickly called out Adrianne in front of everyone, throwing out every nasty slur she could come up with to embarrass and shame the girl. To make her point even more clear to all, she pulled a knife and threatened Adrianne. After that, even the thick-headed boys got the picture—Adrianne was now persona non grata.
Impressively, even in this heightened environment, Adrianne simply would not be deterred. Her responses to the situation showed she believed that to return from exile, Adrianne would have to go through Sarah Kolb. Over the next few late fall into winter weeks, Adrianne started taking increasingly drastic measures to rectify her situation. The more Sarah pushed her away, the harder Adrianne tried. The girl left a flurry of unaccepted notes, unanswered phone calls, and unmoving appeals to Kolb and others in Sarah’s inner circle in her wake. Little by little, Adrianne even changed her outward appearance to match Sarah’s Gothic styles. Nothing she tried seemed to move Sarah even an inch.
Although she appeared tough and resolute on the outside, inside insecurities were eating away at Adrianne. At home, her behavior started sending off warning bells to Tony and Jo. The two noted with great concern her drastic changes in her appearance and attitude, self-harm, and even hints at suicide. Although it was evident that Adrianne was trying her best to stay strong, the relentless attacks and cold-shoulder tactics of Sarah and her minions were taking their toll.
The couple took Adrianne to see a counselor, who prescribed her medications. Quickly, these intervention measures appeared to bear fruit. Adrianne seemed to stabilize, and her home life began to settle down. That’s not to say there weren’t still issues, but things were certainly moving toward more acceptable teenage angst and rebellion… Oh, you say I can’t get that pierced, well I did it anyway. It wasn’t perfect, but it was an impressive work in progress.
By the end of 2004, and into January 2005, there was a marked change in Adrianne of both attitude and spirit. With her newly rediscovered confidence, she made a distinct tactical shift. Although she continued to try and reach out to Sarah, Adrianne did so, not nearly as often and not nearly as needy. These latest efforts seemed more to have a, ‘it would be great if we could bury the hatchet and get along, but whatevs’, vibe than its predecessors.
During this time, Adrianne also shifted her attention to Cory Gregory. He, in turn, does not appear to have been opposed to her new attentions. They shared notes and even hung out together without Sarah. Adrianne even went so far as to chastise Cory for his adoration and cult-like loyalty to Sarah, regardless of how Sara treated him in return.
What Adrianne continued pointing out to Cory was nothing more than something any caring friend should, and would, bring to their attention. However, word of Adrianne’s rediscovered spirit of independence and making time with her disciples made its way back to Sarah Kolb. She would have none of it. There would be no mutiny or dethroning in her little kingdom…
SOMETHING IS WRONG
On the evening of Friday, January 21st, 2005, Joann Reynolds returned home. It didn’t take long for her to realize something was not quite right. Adrianne got out of class every day at noon and was home throughout the afternoon hours, yet none of her chores had been completed that day. Still, a teenager blowing off her chores, even if out of character for Adrianne, was hardly proof-positive that something dire was afoot. Then Jo passed Adrianne’s room and noticed that the girl’s work uniform was still there, laid out and ready for a shift that was already in progress. That detail was worthy of alarm bells.
Adrianne loved her job at Checkers. If she was scheduled to be at work by 5, she would be there with plenty of time to spare. When it came to her job, “late” or “no-show” was not in Adrianne’s vocabulary. Joanne felt it in her gut; something was very wrong. She alerted Tony, who had recently returned home from his truck-driving shift, as she began calling family and friends in an attempt to locate the teen.
Even after Joann’s phone calls produced no results, Tony was not overly concerned. Experience had taught him that Adrianne could be unpredictable, even more so than your typical teen. However, he thought it was worth a quick drive over to Checkers and the couple soon headed out to the restaurant together. However, where uncompleted chores and an unused uniform set off Jo’s motherly instincts, what the Checkers manager told him set off Tony’s fatherly instincts—Adrianne had not picked up her check. What teenager would willingly leave money on the table?
For the next few hours, Tony and Joann worked the phones and spoke with anyone they could think of who might know Adrianne’s whereabouts. By 8 pm, they both agreed it was time to get the East Moline Police Department involved in the search.
THE EARLY INVESTIGATION
Shortly after the EMPD received the call about Adrianne, a patrolman was out meeting with her parents. He took down a report—including details about the girl’s troubled past—and assured the couple that they would take the matter seriously and work quickly. After all, Adrianne had a documented background of suicide attempts, mental health problems, drug and alcohol issues, and had been bounced between various states, families, and homes. Basically, a good kid who had already traveled too rough a road. Time was of the essence if this situation was to have a chance at a happy ending.
The officer retraced the phone tree provided by Tony and Jo. At some point during every conversation, two names kept coming up: Sarah Kolb and Cory Gregory. He reached out to Sarah Kolb first. Kolb admitted right out front that she was not Adrianne’s friend, but admitted she had been with the girl that day. Lunch at Taco Bell. She claimed to have given Adrianne a ride and dropped her off at the McDonald’s across from her home. Why that drop-off location? Sara claimed it was at Adrianne’s request because it would upset her father that there was a boy in the car with them. And that boy? Cory Gregory.
The brief conversation ended with Sarah pushing the idea that Adrianne was a likely runaway, and she provided a list of names that the officer should check out. She also requested that, if they do find Adrianne, to let her know. An interesting desire, given that Sarah started the conversation emphatically denying the two were even friends.
The officer then turned his attention to Cory Gregory. Their conversation matched Sarah’s perfectly, almost too perfectly. That is right up to the moment Cory slipped in an additional detail—an argument between the girls had broken out during their trip. It’s possible that Cory quickly recognized his mistake because he ended the call abruptly. The McDonald’s drop-off was his last contact with the girl. Nothing further to add.
Two things were becoming increasingly clear: something was rotten in the city of East Moline, and all roads led to Sarah Kolb and Cory Gregory.
THE INVESTIGATION SHIFTS
There is no question Cory dropped the two into the soup, and it wouldn’t be the last time. To a seasoned professional, that little slip by Cory was enough loose thread to start pulling their story apart. It was time for a bit of divide and conquer, as the officer refocused on Sarah with the new information in his hip pocket.
However, slick Sarah seemed already prepared with ready answers to the officer’s probing questions. She admitted to asking Cory to leave out the ever so insignificant detail of their minor disagreement. Sarah reasoned that the truth might make them look bad. When confronted for more details about the “argument,” Sarah explained they had a verbal quarrel regarding some notes that were passed from Adrianne to Cory. These notes allegedly confessed that Adrianne liked him and wanted to hang out with him, without Sarah. According to Sarah, this was something neither Cory nor Sarah herself wanted.
After continued pressing, Sara finally copped to the verbal altercation briefly turning physical, including a few thrown punches. She even gave Adrianne credit for landing a pretty hard shot. Sarah claimed that the two girls then came to a resolution that they would stay away from each other, and that Adrianne would also stay away from Cory. The story then connected back to the earlier version: They dropped Adrianne off at McDonald’s, and they haven’t seen or heard from her since. Sarah’s changing story, and the admission of physical violence, was more than enough for the officer to request that she come to the station for a formal interview on Monday.
That weekend passed with no sign of Adrianne or word of her whereabouts.
Sarah showed up for her interview with the police, but not alone. She arrived at the station with her mother and a lawyer. During the interrogation, Sarah methodically and calmly repeated the same story she had already shared with the police. By the meeting’s end, the only thing the authorities knew for sure was that Sarah Kolb knew more than she was letting on. However, they would need evidence, rather than instinct, to hold Sarah any longer, so they let her go.
Tuesday came, and the police took their shot at Cory. He also arrived with an attorney and repeated the same story he gave over the phone. Young Cory was not as cool a customer as Sarah. Even though he stuck to the same details, his body language and attitude were telling a very different tale. By the end of the interview, the police were sure of two things: First, neither juvenile was telling the whole truth. Second, Cory was the most likely to crack first.
As it turned out, the authorities were spot on. It was only a matter of hours after they let Cory go for him to break down to his father and then to his family. That very afternoon, mere hours after his interview, Cory’s father contacted the police and let them know they were coming back to the station. This time, they had quite a different story to tell.
This case is one where the facts of the crime are interwoven with several “He Said-She Said” discrepancies. Some of these disputed claims can be challenged by physical improbabilities, while others can be pieced together by statistical likelihoods. The rest, I believe, can be scrutinized by taking the character of the perpetrators into account.
What we do know for certain is that on Friday, January 21st, 2005, to the surprise of everyone who heard, Sarah sent out an invitation for Adrianne to join her for lunch. At the noon hour, four people pulled out of the Black Hawk Outreach Center parking lot in Sarah Kolb’s red 4-door Geo Prizm. Sarah Kolb was the driver with Adrianne sitting passenger. The back seats were filled by Cory Gregory, and one of their friends, Sean McKittrick.
On the drive to Taco Bell, Sarah verbally confronted Adrianne. We don’t know the exact words that were used, but the gist amounted to a demand that Adrianne back off her people and territory, especially Cory. Adrianne’s defiant responses centered on no need to listen to Sarah and that she would continue to do as she pleased. It’s a brief trip from the school to Taco Bell, and most of it was filled with their escalating argument.
When they pulled into the parking lot, what was verbal turned physical. At some earlier point during this altercation between the girls—most likely when it was still in the yelling stages—Sean told them he had enough and exited the vehicle. He seemed to have decided that a walk from the Taco Bell, back to the school, was preferable to getting involved in their mess. Understandable. Cory, on the other hand, claimed early on that he stayed for the entire event. The boy claimed he remained transfixed on his window, continuing to stare at the outside world in an attempt to ignore what was taking place on the inside. Unlikely.
Kolb had already confessed to the police that punches were thrown, and that Adrianne landed a solid one to her nose. However, Sarah left out the fact that she grabbed a wooden stick, possibly a hatchet handle that was kept in the car for her protection, and started beating Adrianne with it. Interestingly, she also left out that Adrianne kept fighting back as the struggle devolved into wrestling, punching, slapping, hair pulling, and neck grabbing. Oh, and Sarah definitely left out the whole, Adrianne was fighting for her life as she was being choked to death, part.
If Cory’s account was to be believed, he continued to stare out the window as the fight escalated, struggling internally whether he should get involved. By the time he finally decided to get involved, there was nothing he could do—Adrianne was already gone.
If Sarah’s account was to be believed, the girls’ argument turned physical, and they started trading blows. However, and much to Sarah’s shock, Cory finished the fight by wrapping his belt around Adrianne’s throat and strangling her to death from behind.
Regardless of whose story is the closest to the truth, it all ends with Adrianne, after a valiant attempt to defend herself, dead in the back seat. Her young life was cruelly stolen by cold hands and a warm belt around her throat. The pretty Texan teen, now victim to a broken girl’s paranoid jealousy and the boy who sold his soul to her. And, with the deed now done, the two shared a smoke in the middle of the busy lunch-hour traffic and contemplated the disposal of Adrianne’s earthly remains.
I considered putting in the transcripts of the calls between Sarah Kolb and the East Moline Police Department here. However, it’s not just what she says, but how Sarah says them, that is so chilling. Please consider listening to our podcast to hear the recordings for yourself here: The Chronicles of Crime Sarah Kolb.
It didn’t take them long to decide to move and bury Adrianne at Sarah’s nearby family farm. It’s easy to imagine, based on Sarah’s history, that she had visualized burying bodies there long before she completed this act of murder. However, at some point, it dawned on them that it was January, and the ground was frozen. With all the conflicting and changing stories, we don’t know if this realization occurred to them during conversation or if they actually tried to dig a hole in the frozen earth. Either way, they changed course and moved forward with a new plan.
The two teens went to Sarah’s house in Milan to retrieve some gas cans, and then they headed out to the farm. Plan B was cremation. When they arrived, the two made their way to an isolated back edge of the property and removed Adrianne’s body. While wrapped in a tarp, they doused the poor girl’s remains in gasoline and started a grotesque blaze. This time it took them much longer to figure out the issue with Plan B—that it takes upwards of 2000 degrees to incinerate a body. Instead, the teens attempted to complete their task by just continuing to add more gas three or four times.
They eventually realized that their plan was just not going to work. Out of ideas, the pair decided to give up on their efforts for the day. They finished covering and camouflaging Adrianne’s charred body with some surrounding brush, and Kolb drove them back into town. On the drive home, Sarah reminded Cory that she had a work shift at the local movie theater on Saturday, so their continued cover-up would have to wait until Sunday. They would use that time to come up with another plan. The sun had set on the first part of their evil deed by the time Sarah dropped Cory off at his place. She then continued on to her home for the night.
On Sunday, they returned to the grisly scene. This time they brought another friend, now turned co-conspirator, Nathan Gaudet. The two had reached a prior consensus that all would be well if they separated the head and hands from the rest of the body, and then disposed of the parts in different locations. However, neither seemed to have the will or desire to complete the task.
Cory and Sarah had reached out to Nathan and asked if he wanted to see something morbid and cool. All that Nathan had to do in exchange for this privilege was to bring a saw with him. Their friend had agreed to the terms and now joined them on their trip back out to the farm. After they arrived, it was Nathan who went to work dismembering Adrianne’s body. Sarah and Cory stood by, cracking jokes and laughing with each other.
With the next part of their evil deed done, they placed her head and hands in trash bags and loaded them into Sarah’s trunk. What remained of Adrianne’s body they dumped into a ravine and covered the evidence over in branches and brush. The trio then decided they were far too hungry to deal immediately with the contents of the trunk. Instead, the group smoked some more weed and headed to McDonald’s for some lunch.
Once their meal was finished, and their high was just enough, the group headed to the nearby Black Hawk State Park. Once there, they grabbed a shovel and the bags containing Adrianne’s removed parts and walked into the interior of the park to find a good burial spot. On their trek, the group stumbled upon a manhole. Deciding that this was as good a spot as any, they removed the cover and callously tossed the bags down within. Convinced that Adrianne was gone for good, the teens returned to the car, confident in the belief that they could simply return to their lives as if nothing had happened.
Cory made it all the way from Friday to Tuesday afternoon before he broke. He would later claim he had not slept a wink since the beginning of the gruesome ordeal. His physical appearance in the video available of Cory escorting the detectives to the park seems to back up that claim.
During the hours-long taped interrogation, Cory laid out his version of events. Throughout his story, the officers present knew one thing was certain—although the highlights of the events had the ring of truth, his constant distancing himself from the actual acts smelled off. According to Cory, it was all Sarah. Everything. The poor boy was just a bystander to the heinous deed.
The police needed one certainty that night: they needed to know that Adrianne was, in fact, deceased. Murdered. To that end, shortly after 11 p.m. that same night, they took Cory to Black Hawk State Park and directed him to show them the location of the first half of poor Adrianne’s remains. He complied. With no doubt remaining, it was up to the police to notify Tony and Joann Reynolds of the grim news. By 2:30 a.m. on that cold Wednesday morning, Tony and Joann were facing the certain tragedy that Adrianne would not be walking through their door this, or any other night, again.
Later that morning, the police took Cory out to the farm to show them to the rest of young Adrianne’s body. The sight took aback even the most seasoned of those present. Unlike the bags from the previous early hours, where only a few witnessed its contents in the dark of night, this carnage was on display for all to see in the light of day.
With all her bodily remains now recovered, what had started as the search for Adrianne, was now the pursuit of justice for Adrianne. They already had one culprit in hand, it did not take them long to get a warrant for the second.
On Thursday, January 27th, they scooped up the ringleader and introduced her to the inside of a cell. Although they hoped Sarah would give them her side of the story, she immediately lawyered up and waited for trial.
On the 1st of February 2005, just 11 days after Adrianne’s murder, Sarah Kolb and Cory Gregory were both charged with first-degree murder and concealment of a homicide. They both pled not guilty on both counts.
That Halloween, the 31st of October 2005, Sarah Kolb began her trial at the county courthouse in Rock Island, Illinois. Over the next two weeks, the prosecution introduced Sarah’s own journal against her, which included an entry the day before the murder that mentioned Adrianne and that she (Sarah) would ‘expletive’ kill her (Adrianne). During the trial, the prosecution called over 50 witnesses. One such witness was the man who walked by the incident on the way into the Taco Bell. Another witness was their friend and co-conspirator, Nathan Gaudet. Nathan casually told the jury how he had dismembered Adrianne and aided with disposing of her body parts. His reasoning? He was just there to help some friends. The notable missing exception in this long parade of witnesses was Cory Gregory.
The defense put one lone witness on the stand, Sarah Kolb herself. With no emotion, Sarah used her defense time to paint Cory as the perpetrator and her as the bystander. She owned up to the initial argument, some yelling, and even hair pulling. Then she claimed, much to her complete surprise, Cory reached in from the back seat and choked poor Adrianne to death with his belt. From that point on, it was all Cory. She had no choice. If she didn’t help him cover it up and continue to do right by him, Cory would kill her, her family, and even her cat. What could she do? Sarah also offers as further evidence of her innocence that she has ongoing issues with her hands and lacks the strength to strangle anyone to death.
After Kolb completed her testimony, the defense rested. Their defense of Sarah was as sparse as this paragraph.
On November 15th, 2005, the judge rocked everyone following the case, with the news that they had a hung jury. After 15 hours of deliberation, they were deadlocked 11 to 1 for conviction. As shocking as it was, the state made it clear they were not giving up, and would also push for a change of venue for the subsequent trial.
The prosecution got their wish. On the 9th of February 2006, in Dixon, Illinois, Sarah Kolb went back on trial for murder. Most of those present admitted that the prosecution tried much the same case. The notable difference in this trial came from the defense—this time they decided to forgo putting Sarah Kolb on the stand.
However, simply leaving the emotionless Kolb off the stand did not have the impact or result that her defense was hoping for. On February 22nd, the jury came back with guilty on all counts. During sentencing, the judge gave Sarah Kolb 48 years for the murder conviction and 5 more years for the charge of concealing a homicide. The judge ordered the sentences to be served consecutively, for a total of 53 years.
Cory Gregory opted to not take his chances with a jury. He pled guilty and received 45 years for his role in the murder of Adrianne Reynolds. A role that he, to this day, continues to put off on Sarah Kolb.
Nathan Gaudet, the admitted butcher of poor Adrianne’s body, was charged as a juvenile and sentenced to 5 years for concealing a homicide.
WHERE ARE THEY NOW?
Nathan Gaudet ended up serving almost four of his five-year sentence. On November 11th, 2008, Nathan was released from juvenile detention. We know little about his life after jail except this: On April 16th, 2012, at the age of 23, Nathan’s life (along with two other victims) ended in a fiery crash in southern Indiana when their automobile struck a tree.
As for Cory Gregory and Sarah Kolb? Both continue to serve their sentences for their actions back in the winter of 2005. However, there have been some notable continued legal wranglings by their defense teams lately. In 2012, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a ruling that imposing a mandatory sentence of life without the possibility of parole on a juvenile offender, without considering the offender’s age and its “attendant characteristics,” is unconstitutional. Following this ruling, in 2016, the Illinois Supreme Court ruled that the 2012 decision covered “De facto” life sentences. This ruling is taken to mean that any sentence over 40 years for juveniles, is to be considered life. These two rulings opened the door for both Sarah Kolb and Cory Gregory to petition for new sentencing hearings.
As of this writing, Cory Gregory is still serving his sentence in the Pontiac Correctional Center in Pontiac, Illinois. I am not going to hazard a guess at the outcome of his resentencing hearing as it works its way through the courts. However, I will continue to follow the case and share any updates on my websites.
As of this writing, Sarah Kolb is still serving her sentence in the Logan Correctional Center, in Lincoln, Illinois. Again, it’s difficult to gauge chances at resentencing. However, it should be noted that, while Cory Gregory was granted a new hearing, Sarah Kolb had her request denied. So it would seem that, at least for the time being, the odds are heavily stacked against Kolb seeing a reduction in her prison term.
Up to this point, I have presented this case as accurately and fairly as I could and made every attempt to leave out my personal thoughts and opinions. To save time, I am simply going to make a blanket warning and acknowledgment that everything after this point is the author’s opinions and personal thoughts on the matter.
First, I would like to offer a few thoughts about the victim, Adrianne. Much has been made about her sordid childhood; including promiscuous sex, drug and alcohol abuse, acts of violence, and alleged false accusations of sexual abuse and physical violence against her mother and stepfather. While these are points that must be addressed when telling her story, it’s clear that Adrianne was much more than the sum of these things.
By all accounts, Adrianne was bright, energetic, fun, loyal, had a wonderful sense of humor and a great deal of musical talent. Who knows? If she hadn’t encountered Sarah Kolb, we may have seen her on stage or screen by now. What’s more, with the help of Tony and Joanne, it seems that her work with councilors and medication was paying dividends. One of the great tragedies we see here is that an amazing girl, just on the cusp of turning things around, never got the chance to fulfill her potential. I would like to have met the future Adrianne—I have a feeling that, despite (or maybe because of) her early childhood traumas, she would have become someone worth knowing.
What about Adrianne’s claims of abuse? I know this question is an extremely touchy subject, but you can’t research this case and not examine this question (whether you choose to share your thoughts or not). Well, wisely or not, I am going to share mine. I believe something occurred, whether it was mental, physical, sexual, or a mixed combination of some form of the three. I find it hard to believe that Adrianne did not encounter some, or all, of these destructive forces in her early life. A child simply does not turn down the roads she did in a vacuum; there needs to be a catalyst. Unfortunately, we will probably never have a full understanding of what she faced. Even more importantly, those responsible will probably continue to evade the punishment they deserve.
Further, I find the timing of her recantation suspect. Although we will probably never know for sure, I believe that she wanted to return to her previous home state and friends so desperately that she was willing to backtrack on her claims and likely perjure herself.
What do I believe took place during Adrianne’s final hour? I know two things for certain: First, the fact that Sarah Kolb and Cory Gregory continue, even to this day, to continue blaming and pointing the responsibility at each other is not only a complete crock, but it also continues to prove that they are both cowards and lack even a shred of decency or remorse. Second, they both took part in the heinous act.
Cory’s story that he simply sat and stared out the window while the two girls fought to the death was and is completely preposterous. This stands true not just from a who the hell would actually do that standpoint, but also because the physics of the murder scene just doesn’t support his story. The Geo Prism was a compact car. The space and maneuverability didn’t exist for Sara to have completed the job solo. Even if you assumed Adrianne was stunned or knocked unconscious, it would still be difficult (if not impossible) for Sarah to have the space and leverage in that tiny car required to strangle the girl to death from the driver’s seat effectively. However, if you add an attacker from behind Adrianne, the physics and leverage problem changes entirely.
If we add the two verified weapons into the mix, the wooden handle and the belt, I think what likely occurred was this: What started as a heated verbal exchange turned physical. I think Adrianne was finally done taking crap from Sarah. She didn’t back down when the argument was vocal and stood her ground when the blows started coming. Adrianne was a scrapper, and I think Sarah faced more resistance than she expected. If I were a betting man (and I am), I would lay a wager that Adrianne had the upper hand—right up until Sarah grabbed the wooden handle. Sarah stunned Adrianne enough that she could regain the upper hand, and was so enraged that someone would dare fight back against her, Sarah attempted to choke Adrianne.
It’s possible that when it looked like Sarah was losing the struggle and, as Kolb claims, the ever-loyal Cory jumped in with his belt. Then, perhaps, that’s when Sarah used the handle and started beating Adrianne. But I have a problem with this theory. Cory was essentially a lapdog and I think, given what we know, he would have waited for directions.
I believe it’s more likely that Sarah realized she couldn’t finish what she started from her position, and then called on Cory to help her. I would like to believe that Adrianne was unconscious and unable to see what was coming, but that is probably just my personal wishful thinking. To deal a knockout blow, even with the aid of the wooden handle, you run into those spatial issues again. In the end, it is my opinion that it took the two of them to murder the strong-willed Adrianne—Cory with his belt, and Sarah to beat and hold Adrianne from fighting back.
What about the murder cover-up? The defense from Sarah Kolb that Cory Gregory threatened her into compliance in the cover-up is simply absurd. This is completely incongruent with everything we know about the two of them, their personal character, and their relationship dynamics. Their disastrous cover-up attempts were a scramble for self-preservation. While it is possible that Cory bore some feelings to protect Sarah mixed in, I find it highly unlikely that Sarah cared one bit about keeping Cory out of trouble.
Can I be certain that Sarah didn’t care about protecting Cory? I believe I can. What if I told you that the coat Adrianne was wearing mysteriously ended up in Cory’s house after the murder? Because it did. Given that Cory is highly unlikely to be the one to bring her coat into his home, there is only one other possibility. Sarah was so devious that she was prepared to set Cory up for the fall from the very beginning. She was also apparently delusional enough to believe that once Cory was set up, her magical powers of control over him were sufficient to keep his mouth shut. Her sacrificial lamb would willingly fall on the sword for her, right?
Further, I don’t completely buy that their only motive for involving Nathan in the dismemberment, and hiding of the body, was their squeamishness over the act itself. Sure, that might have played a part. However, I think they just couldn’t keep from sharing, and they chose someone they thought could not only be trusted, but who would also be in awe and approve of their actions. I mean, what good is being so badass that you can commit murder, if you can’t share it? I believe Sarah had finally fulfilled her strong desire to live out her threats and was, essentially, proud of herself. While Cory, because of his intense idolization of Sarah, initially tried to share the same rush and pride in their handiwork. However, in the end, his conscience wouldn’t allow it.
What about Cory breaking down and confessing? As it turned out, not only was her love slave unwilling to take the fall for her, he wasn’t even willing to carry the guilt of what they had done for more than a few days. By all accounts, Cory was wracked with guilt and hadn’t slept a wink since the murder. Based on how he looked in the video footage of him leading the investigators to Adrianne’s remains, I buy the lack of sleep. I’m just not so sure that it was actually guilt related to Adrianne and her murder. This was not someone showing remorse and prepared to own up and face the music for his actions. I think the guilt he displayed was more of the I can’t believe I allowed myself to be so under someone else’s control that I was willing to do the things I did sort of guilt. Cory wasn’t feeling for Adrianne, Cory was feeling for Cory.
Was the murder of Adrianne premeditated? This question is a continued struggle for me. Sarah’s journaling before the murder almost seems like a confession of intent, as does her attitude and constant threatening behavior up to that point. But that argument lends itself just as easily to the other side. Sarah was constantly writing twisted stuff, shooting off her mouth, and threatening people with no follow-through. Was she just waiting for the perfect storm of opportunity to act on her twisted, murderous desires?
The question of premeditation always brings me back to the location and timing. Who in the hell would pick a Taco Bell parking lot during busy lunch hour traffic—traffic from both the drive-through and the city’s major thoroughfare—as the perfect murder spot? Is Sarah Kolb just that stupid and egotistical to think that she could get away with murder at any time and in any place? I’m just not sold on premeditation. It’s far more likely that Sarah planned a beating, but Adrianne turned the tables on her. I think this was a murder out of fear and cowardice. This act was the result of Sarah finding out, in the moment, that Adrianne was more alpha than Kolb realized. If Cory had not been present, I think things would have turned out differently. Sarah Kolb would probably have received the ass whooping she so richly deserved.
Should Sarah Kolb or Cory Gregory, or both, get a reduction in their sentence? It’s hard to imagine teenagers killing each other. It’s even harder to imagine them killing each other in the way poor Adrianne Reynolds met her end. Choking someone to death is as up close and personal as you can get. This method takes time—more time than often depicted on screen or TV—like 4 to 5 minutes long to finish taking a life. At any point during that excruciatingly long period, one, or both of them, could have changed course and stopped their cruel madness. Regardless of their ages at the time of the murder, without even considering the rest of their despicable acts, this fact alone should keep them in jail for the rest of their lives. They had 240-300 seconds of time to have a second thought about what they were doing. Each and every second they continued was a conscious choice. So no, this was not just a singular act or quick mistake as the result of a childish brain. This murder was a continued stream of consciousness by both perpetrators present.
There is not a single doubt in my mind that Sarah Kolb and Cory Gregory are right where they need to be, and where they should stay, until they reach the death sentence they willingly and callously dealt to young Adrianne—a girl full of promise, but a promise never given the chance to be realized.