Thursday, June 23, 2005

**BREAKING NEWS*** on the Lunsford case

Couey: Police came to home while missing girl still alive

BROOKSVILLE, Fla. - Jessica Lunsford was buried alive in garbage bags after investigators missed a chance to save the 9-year-old when they visited the house where a convicted sex offender was keeping her in a closet, according to documents released Thursday.

John Couey, who is charged with her murder, rape and kidnapping, told detectives that he kept Jessica alive for three days, during which investigators came to the trailer home where he was hiding her, just 150 yards from the Lunsford home.

Investigators never searched inside, Couey said. Sheriff's officials with Citrus County, where Jessica lived and was killed, did not immediately return a call seeking comment.

Couey, 46, told detectives he fed the girl for three days until he buried her, alive and conscious, in garbage bags in the middle of the night. A medical examiner said she suffocated; investigators said her hands had been tied with stereo wire and two of her fingers poked through the bags.

"She was alive. I buried her alive. Like, it's stupid, but she suffered," he told police.

Asked why he did it, Couey told investigators: "I got scared. I didn't know what to do. ... I guess I didn't want to go to prison. But I'll go anyway. I deserve it."

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