A 15-year-old aspiring homicide detective has been charged with first-degree premeditated murder after authorities said he strangled his mother and then recruited friends to help bury her body following an argument about his grades.
The Florida teen, who attended a police explorer program in Orange City, was taken into custody after local authorities on Saturday said he gave a disturbingly callous reenactment of the crime that was initially staged to look like a home burglary.
“You can’t begin to imagine how wild this story was,” Volusia County Sheriff Mike Chitwood said at a press conference.
Authorities said what started as an argument over a D letter grade at school ended with 46-year-old Gail Cleavenger being strangled to death in her bed as her husband was out of the state for business on Thursday night.
In an effort to cover up the crime, her son allegedly recruited two juvenile friends to help him bury her body in a church’s fire pit and then stage a burglary at their home. The boy then went to school Friday morning and came home to report his mother as missing to police and their home ransacked by unknown intruders.
Sgt. A.J. Pagliari, with the Sheriff’s Major Case Unit, said at a press conference that the teen confessed to the crime after his two friends came clean, which led to them being charged with accessory to first-degree murder.
He described the boy as appearing “very proud of what he did” during his re-telling of the events.
The boy, who is not being identified by HuffPost as it’s not clear whether he will be charged as an adult, had taken criminal justice classes at a university and had been fascinated with the investigation to the point that he invited the sergeant to go “admire his work” at the crime scene, Pagliari said.
“He said, ‘I did a really good job at staging everything,’” Pagliari said.
Though the boy said he wanted to be a homicide detective one day, Pagliari said: “At the end of the day, I’m standing here, and he’s where he belongs.”
It was unclear on Sunday if the teen has a lawyer.