MEDICINE HAT, ALBERTA, CANADA — On April 23, 2006, death came slashing without mercy to the Richardson family.
Orchestrating and overseeing the massacre of Marc Richardson, 42; Debra Richardson, 48; and their son Jacob Richardson, 8; was Jasmine Richardson — the couple’s 12-year-old daughter. Doing the bulk of the wet work was Jasmine’s boyfriend, Jeremy Allan Steinke. He was 23.
Steinke, disguised by a mask and brandishing a large knife, snuck into the family’s basement, where he stabbed Debra Richardson 12 times. Marc Richardson rushed to his wife’s aid and brawled with Steinke. The younger man ultimately dominated, stabbing Richardson 24 times, including nine deep wounds to the back.
From there, Jasmine joined Jeremy and they slipped up to Jacob’s bedroom, where the child was asleep. Jasmine stabbed her brother four times, and Jeremy slit the boy’s throat from ear to ear. Afterward, the bloodthirsty pair fled the scene with the help of a friend, Kacy Lancaster, 19, who drove them away.
The couple’s motive for mass slaughter arose from Marc and Debra objecting to their preteen daughter dating a guy in his 20s. Jacob’s death was just another thrill-kill aspect of the sick spree that Jasmine later admitted she’d hoped “would bring us closer together.”
The age-inappropriate and ultimately lethal romance first bloomed earlier in 2006, when Jasmine and Jeremy had met at a local punk-rock show.
Both Jasmine and Jermey each identified as goths, dressing in black and wearing ghoulish makeup. Each was also active an online social-media community called Vampire Freaks, where Jasmine listed her age as 15 and went by the moniker “Runaway Devil.”
Speaking of lying about age, Steinke claimed to be a 300-year-old werewolf and, according to friends, Jasmine may well have believed him.
The forbidden lovers professed passion for one another via emails and internet messages. In one such outpouring, Jasmine wrote of her family: “I have a plan. It begins with me killing them and ends with me living with you.”
Steinke replied to that idea with, “Well I love your plan but we need to get a little more creative with like details and stuff.”
Three days prior to the murders, Steinke wrote about the Richardsons in his online journal:
“Their throats I want to slit. They will regret the sh– they have done. Especially when I see to it that they are gone. They shall pay for their insulince [sic]. Finally there shall be silence. Their blood shall be payment!”
The night before the assault, Jasmine and Jeremy ritualistically watched their favorite film, Natural Born Killers. Director Oliver Stone’s 1994 opus chronicles an unhinged criminal couple Mickey (Woody Harrelson) and Mallory Knox (Juliette Lewis) as they blaze a brazenly homicidal trail across America — beginning with members of Mallory’s family.
Eventually, Steinke would say to an interrogating detective, “You ever see Natural Born Killers? I think that’s the greatest love story of all time.”
A neighbor first noticed Marc’s and Debra’s bodies through a window. Police responded and discovered Jacob dead as well. Initially, they presumed Jasmine had been abducted. Authorities issued an Amber Alert, hoping the public could help return her to safety. Inspector Brent Secondiak of Medicine Hat Police Services recalls, “I truly believed that this person was missing and possibly abducted. It wasn’t even in the realm of possibility that she was an accused.”
Investigators discovered Jasmine and Jeremy’s public and private online proclamations, and put together who had actually committed the crimes. Officers picked up the couple the following day in Leader Saskatchewan, about 80 miles away. The pair had been seen laughing and cuddling before being arrested.
Almost immediately, Jasmine and Jeremy wrote to one another from behind bars. In one exchange, Jeremy proposed marriage and Jasmine accepted. She also bragged about how the massacre had turned them into “legends” who would be “immortal.” She later said of the correspondence, “That’s our five minutes of fame. Immortality means people will remember you.”
Jasmine Richardson entered a plea of not guilty. In 2007, a jury convicted her of three counts of first-degree murder and sentenced her to the maximum penalty allowable for a child of 12 years of age: 10 years, four of which would be in a psychiatric hospital and four under supervised probation. With that, Jasmine became the youngest person convicted for triple homicide in Canadian history.
Steinke also pleaded not guilty, but he had admitted to the murders repeatedly. He got three concurrent life sentences, with no possibility of parole for 25 years.
Kacy Lancaster, who drove the couple’s getaway vehicle, cut a plea deal and received a year of house arrest.
While serving her time, Jasmine Richardson apparently came to understand and regret the horror of her crime and took well to rehabilitation efforts. In 2011, she commenced classes at Mount Royal University in Calgary. In 2016, at age 23, Jasmine received parole and was released. If she remains out of trouble until 2020, the murders will be expunged from her record.
Inspector Secondiak says he has experienced conflicting emotions over Jasmine’s sentence and subsequent freedom, saying:
“At one point I wanted her locked up forever. I don’t think I’m there now. I hope she moves on and becomes a productive member of society…. I don’t think she’s truly evil. I’ve met some of those people that are bad to the bone and she’s not one of them.”
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Main photos: Jeremy Steinke and Jasmine Richardson [Medicine Hat Police Services Handout]