A 14-year-old Illinois girl stabbed her 11-year-old half-sister 40 times in their home. The stabbing took place in the early morning of Jan. 22, in the small town of Mundelein, a suburb 30 miles north west of Chicago. The girls’ mother was not home at the time, having left for work. Many sources, including the divorce files of the girls’ parents, identify the victim as 11-year-old Dora Betancourt.
Police arrived on the scene minutes after receiving a 911 call from the frantic 14-year-old, explaining she had woken up to the screams of her sister being attacked by a Hispanic male intruder. Schools in the area were immediately put on lockdown for 15 minutes. Police found the blood-soaked body of Dora in her bed, with the knife on the bedspread next to a bloody shirt.
After the initial investigation, police took the 14-year-old to the Mundelein Police Department to repeat her statement about the Hispanic male intruder. After taking down her statement, the police informed the 14-year old that they had found strands of hair in Dora’s hand and would be able to test it for DNA. The 14-year-old then changed her story, and admitted to stabbing Dora with a kitchen knife.
According to prosecutors, when asked why the 14-year-old stabbed Dora, the teenager explained that she felt unappreciated by her sister. She had cooked and cleaned for her, taken care of other household chores, and was trying hard to keep the household running smoothly. The two had also been fighting, and the 14-year-old was angry with Dora for hitting her the night prior.
In juvenile court Jan. 23, the 14-year-old explained to the judge what happened just prior to the horrific crime. She woke up before 8 a.m., and contemplated for 10 to 15 minutes whether she would stab her sister. She went downstairs for a kitchen knife, came back upstairs and walked toward Dora’s room. She then viciously stabbed the 11-year-old Dora while she slept, plunging the knife while screaming at her. According to the medical examiner, Thomas Rudd, Dora was stabbed nearly 40 times.
Thomas Rudd explained that, while most of Dora’s wounds were deep and aimed toward the central part of her body, some of the wounds were defensive, meaning that Dora woke up during the attack and tried to defend herself. About 30 of the wounds were aimed at the neck, chest and arms, but there were four defensive wounds found on the palm of Dora’s right hand, as well as clean lacerations on her face. The victim also showed significant bruising around her body, with blade impressions on the right side of her chest where the blade pressed against her skin but did not break through, implying a struggle ensued.
Neighbors and family were deeply shocked by the horrific crime. Neighbor Mary Ann Gryder explained that the two sisters were “seemingly close. They would always be together. The older one would be taking care of the younger one, and vice versa.” Liam Welch, a friend and classmate of the 14-year-old, also 14, explained that her actions were completely out of character, not the friend whom he knew to be fun and caring. Her crime was completely unexpected.
It is unknown at this time if the 14-year-old will be charged as a minor or as an adult. She is currently being held at a juvenile detention center for “probable cause,” according to Judge Valerie Boettle Ceckowski. The teenager will appear in juvenile court Jan. 31.
By Ashkaughn Forghani