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When a Beautiful Girl Was Murdered at the Age of 15

Did satanic rituals and heavy metal music drive her killers to commit murder, or was it the case of an obsessed teenage boy?

By Jennifer GeerPublished 2 years ago 3 min read
Photo by Abigail Lynn on Unsplash

Elyse Pahler was a typical teenage girl. On the night of her murder, July 22, 1995, she did what teenage girls do all the time. She left her home in Arroyo Grande, California to hang out with friends. They planned to smoke marijuana in a nearby eucalyptus grove.

The teenagers Elyse left with, her killers, were three boys she knew well. Jacob Delashmutt, Joseph Fiorella, and Royce Casey. They were around her age. They played in a local heavy metal band, Hatred, and they claimed later that they lured her out that night with every intent to murder the girl as a “sacrifice to the devil.”

Elyse was missing for eight months until one of her killers, Royce Casey, led police to her decomposed body lying under the eucalyptus trees. The three boys pleaded no contest and were sentenced 26 years to life in prison.

Casey told investigators that he came forward because he had recently found religion and was sure his friends would kill again. He was also afraid with his newfound religious beliefs, they might come for him next.

According to Casey, the killing began once the effects of the marijuana began to work on Elyse, and she grew relaxed. Casey held her down while Jacob Delashmutt strangled her with his belt, and Joseph Fiorella stabbed her in the neck with his hunting knife.

They each took turns stabbing her, a total of 12 times. The autopsy later showed she did not die instantly from the knife wounds or the strangling. Instead, she died slowly as the blood and the life seeped out of her body.

Casey told police that Elyse “was on the ground praying to God and calling for her mom.”

Casey said the boys believed Elyse was the perfect sacrifice. Killing an innocent girl, a blond, blue-eyed virgin, was to them the ultimate sin. With this offering to the devil, they believed they would have bestowed upon them special powers to make them able to play music better and become famous.

They claimed to have been inspired by the idea by listening to lyrics from a popular metal band, Slayer. In fact, their band, Hatred, was modeled after Slayer.

Slayer, a controversial band that got virtually no radio play, has managed to retain a loyal and devoted following.

Rolling Stone Magazine paid a tribute to the band during its final world tour in 2018. Yes, the band lasted that long. According to the magazine:

“Their shows are a rite of passage for headbangers, an unholy communion with metal’s loud-and-proud, self-proclaimed antichrists. And, even on nights when it’s not raining fiery seat cushions, the gigs still feel dangerous — there you are with a thousand or so fellow headbangers chanting “evil” over and over again…”

“Never has a band devoted themselves so vigilantly to the topics of hell, Satan, black magic, war, serial killers or necrophilia.”

Can we blame the actions of three boys that poured over Slayer’s lyrics for murdering an innocent girl? After all, lots of teenagers listened to those same lyrics without committing murder.

The boys themselves blamed Slayer when they were arrested. Fiorella told a probation officer that the music, “started to influence the way I looked at things.” Casey said that the group referred to themselves as “children of Satan.”

Elyse’s parents also blamed Slayer. They filed a lawsuit claiming the band’s lyrics incited their daughter’s murder. But in 2001, with the entire entertainment industry looking anxiously on, Judge E. Jeffrey Burke dismissed the charges. He stated Slayer’s songs are protected by the First Amendment.

“Slayer lyrics are repulsive and profane. But they do not direct or instruct listeners to commit the acts that resulted in the vicious torture-murder of Elyse Pahler.” — Judge Burke

Delashmutt told the Washington Post in 2001, “The music is destructive. That’s not why Elyse was murdered. She was murdered because Joe [Fiorella] was obsessed with her, and obsessed with killing her.”

Whether it was due to demonic lyrics or a teenage boy’s dark obsession hardly matters to Elyse Pahler and the people that loved her. Her life was cut short as it was only beginning, in the cruelest way possible.

Her obituary stated, “She loved God, his beautiful world, and loved her friends and large family.”

Elyse Pahler, Fair Use, per wikipedia

Shortly after her death, at the site of the crime, her photo was placed in a glass jar. With the photo was this note:

“With her Lord. I love you always, Nana.″


This article was originally published on Medium.


About the Creator

Jennifer Geer

Writing my life away. Runner/mama/wife/eternal optimist/coffee enthusiast. Masters degree in Psychology.

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