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Tuesday, February 21, 2017

The Kornegay Murder and Child Abuse Case

     Keith Kornegay, 37 and his 33-year-old wife Misty lived in a small white house off a dirt road in northern Florida's Columbia County located between Jacksonville and Tallahassee. Mr. Kornegay drove a truck and on occasion his wife traveled with him. On Sunday January 4, 2015, the couple left the house on a three-day trucking job. They left their 16-year-old son Damien in charge of his three sisters, ages three to fifteen.

     On Monday night January 6, 2015, 11-year-old Nicole Kornegay called the home of a friend and spoke to the girl's mother. According to Nicole, she and her 15-year-old sister Ariel had run away from home. They had walked four miles to the town of White Springs and wanted to be picked up at the Dollar General store.

     When asked why she and her sister had run off, Nicole said that someone at their house may have been shot. The mother called 911 then drove to the Dollar General store to fetch the girls.

     At ten that night, deputies with the Columbia County Sheriff's Office entered the Kornegay house to find Damien Kornegay lying beneath a blanket near the living room fireplace with his head on a pillow. He had been shot to death. His 3-year-old sister was in the house by herself.

     When questioned about the shooting at the sheriff's office, 15-year-old Ariel said she didn't know anything about her brother's death. However, after a few follow-up questions, she broke into tears and confessed to shooting her brother.

     Ariel said that when she misbehaved her parents routinely locked her into her bedroom (they must have had an exterior lock installed), sometimes for days at a time. Shortly after her parents left the  house on the trucking job, her brother Damien, who regularly beat her, locked her into her bedroom. That's when she decided to kill him.

     Ariel talked Nicole into unlocking her door. She knew that her father kept a handgun (a 9mm pistol) in his room. Because the bedroom was locked, Ariel managed to remove an air-conditioner from the window and climb into the room where she found the weapon. She loaded the gun and walked into the living room and shot Damien as he slept near the fireplace. A few minutes later, when she re-entered the living room, Ariel saw her 3-year-old sister trying to wake up their dead brother.

     Following the shooting, Ariel and Nicole headed for the Dollar General store in White Springs, leaving the 3-year-old at home with the corpse.

     After learning that their 16-year-old son had been shot to death by his 15-year-old sister, Keith and Misty Kornegay cut their trip short and returned home where they were met by sheriff's deputies.

     Misty Kornegay told the deputies that she and her husband had frequently locked Ariel into her bedroom. Mr. Kornegay admitted that he had once kept her locked up for 21 consecutive days. (Deputies, in Ariel's bedroom closet, had found a bucket of urine.) When the girl recently tried to kill herself, the parents did not notify the authorities.

     Deputies booked Mr. and Mrs. Kornegay into the Columbia County Jail on charges of child neglect causing great bodily harm. If convicted of this second-degree felony, they faced up to fifteen years in prison. The judge set their bonds at $20,000.

     In 2010, when Ariel was ten, her uncle went to prison for sexually molesting her. Deputies also learned that Misty Kornegay had once caught Ariel and Damien having sex.

     At a news conference on January 7, 2015, State Attorney Jeff Siegmeister told reporters that 11-year-old Nicole and her older sister were being held in separate juvenile detention centers in Ocala and Gainesville. The prosecutor said he had 21 days to decide whether to charge the girls with premeditated murder as adults or juveniles.

     The prosecutor decided not to charge Ariel Kornegay with criminal homicide. In March 2015, the girl pleaded guilty to burglary, a second-degree felony. The judge placed the 15-year-old on probabion with the Department of Juvenile Justice until her 19th birthday.

     In November 2015, Misty and Keith Kornegay, pursuant to a plea deal, pleaded guilty to the crimes of intentional child abuse and child neglect. The judge sentenced the parents to ten years probation that included two years of house arrest. The judge also ordered the couple to pay fines and court costs.

     In my opinion, the judge in this case let these parents off light.

     

26 comments:

  1. I do not blame Ariel for her actions. Ariel broke wide open after dealing with years of sexual, physical and psychological abuse. She was never given the professional help she needed to deal with what her uncle did to her. This started to show itself in her daily life where she became unruly, stealing and talking back to her parents. Her academic performance suffered and she was pulled from school several times. Given that she never tried to get help and counseling on her own, I suspect she had been forbidden from doing that. Her parents curious method of discipline, locking her up for as much as three weeks at a stretch also contributed in a big way to her problems. Her (at least) three suicide attempts were never reported and again, she never got the help she needed to deal with her ongoing abuse or better yet, her removal from that situation. Starting with her parents, society failed he all the way around.

    Ariel and Nicole will soon be in court facing their charges. I hope her lawyers can make a case for self defense or even temporary insanity. If she gets locked up, it should be in a mental health facility where she can hopefully get the help and care that have been denied to her since her abuse started some years ago. And Nicole needs the same kind of help.

    I've seen a newsclip of her maternal grandparents saying that everything was just fine in the Kornegay household, never any problems. Ariel acted out from time to time but so do all teens. They wanted to have custody of Nicole (age 11) and the three year old. Given they seem to be either ignorant or rather delusional, I hope this never happens

    I have a BS degree in Social Work from a university in Florida but I'm retired. I've worked with another girl who lived in a similar abusive situation and have seen how it has affected her adult life. I was also an abused child decades ago so I can understand the stress she was under, the hopelessness and the fear she experienced. I really hope the courts do the right thing and help both her and Nicole rather than punishing them for a situation they had no control over.

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    1. I agree wholeheartedly and your post made more sense to me than anything else I've read. The more I learn about this case the sicker it makes me. Those children have suffered what no child should ever know, much less at the hands of the people who are supposed to protect them, at all costs, from such tragedy. Those parents disgust me. Plain and simple. And if the maternal grandparents are justifying that household, they disgust me even further. I pray that the oldest girl can get the help she deserves which is NOT jail. She has been failed from every avenue and the crime is not pulling the trigger. The crime is that none of this was stopped. I will continue to pray for those three children and for the people who are now charged with decisions that will affect each of their futures. May they be guided to make the best choice for each case. As for the parents, no punishment seems adequate in my eyes.

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    2. Thanks for your support. I wrote the original that's posted above.

      It's starting to look like Nicole will go free (but where will she go, who does she have to turn to?) Ariel may actually get the help she's needed for years rather than just being thrown in a cell until she's 21. The girls get their day in court on Thursday, the 5th. The parents will get their day in court the day before. They may lose all parental rights over all three of their children and I hope that's exactly what happens. Other charges against them are expected in the near future to go along with the neglect that has already been filed.

      A thought crossed my mind as I typed the above. What about the girls living with the aunt that turned her husband (the uncle that molested Ariel; from what I've heard it went way beyond simple molestation) in after she found his videos of him and Ariel? She's not a blood relative to the girls and may be supportive of them. Of course I think the girls should have a say in this. They may be uncomfortable with anyone they're related to in any way and I would not blame them for wanting no more contact with any of them. I don't want their parents to ever see or be near them ever again.

      I'll keep checking for updates and posting them here.

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    3. The parents were released on bail on Wednesday. On Thursday they appeared in court for 40 minutes to discuss child custody and other issues.

      Ariel's first court appearance will be tomorrow, Friday. I have no idea how it will go and when Nicole will have her turn.

      Stay tuned.

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    4. 11 year old Nicole Kornegay is completely free of any charges related to the death of her brother Damien. She was released to "Non-custodial Custody" and it seems that means to the grandparents mentioned above until her case comes up in Family Court. No date was mentioned. That bothers me hugely to the point that I'm sending the link about them I mentioned above to the Columbia County Court and Sheriff's Office.

      15 year old Ariel Kornegay was also released to "Supervised Custody" until her next court date comes on on March 12th. Columbia County Prosecutor Jeff Siegmiester said the following about her: "The older child, even if I charge her, I recognize she needs education, counseling and assistance for issues that have occurred in her life," Again, I hope she's put into a situation where all the help she needs to recover from the years of abuse she suffered through is made available to her.

      Siegmiester also said that he is looking at more charges for the parents based on the events that led to the death of their son but did not say how long he expected this to take.

      More as it happens.

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  2. The 11-year-old Nicole is NOT guilty of anything at all -- I saw the arrest affidavit and there is not one iota evidence that Nicole had killing on her mind in any way.

    To understand the absurdity, consider the following quote from a local station:
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    Ariel’s 11-year-old sister is accused of helping Ariel escape her room and bringing their three-year-old sister in to another room to avoid seeing the shooting.
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    Nicole was brave and kind to free Ariel from her prison after she was beaten by her brother, and Nicole was risking the same treatment from the brother and her parents.

    And Nicole did NOT know what Ariel intends to do -- you see the arrest affidavit stated that Nicole ASKED Ariel what she intends to do, but Ariel refused to tell Nicole and instead ordered her into a closet with the toddler -- when they heard a shot they both started crying and remained in the closet.

    This is a terrified and traumatized victim who was in the middle of a conflict between two far older mentally ill teens.

    She a being railroaded because the sheriff rushed to release her mug shot within hours of her arrest and it was printed all around the world -- admitting Nicole is innocent could lead to a huge lawsuit.

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  3. I love how pal think they know what goes on in other pols lives when they don't even know the ppl. The parents left on that Monday around noon and was to be back around midnight that same day.

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  4. Sorry for being away for so long. I'm the pne that started this discussion.

    Here's the latest...

    Ariel could be on probation until her 19th birthday. The prosecutor offered her a plea bargain: accept burglary charges and the murder charges will be dropped. She did.

    She has to attend school regularly and otherwise behave herself and stay out of trouble. She had to attend and participate in therapy and counseling for the abuse she suffered. And she has to help the prosecution in the case against her parents.

    Nicole, her 11 year old sister, has been released from all charges.

    Brie, her three year old sister was put in custodial care the night of her brother's murder and is still there. I do not know if there are any plans to reunite the sisters but that may wait until after their parents are tried.

    The girls' maternal grandparents were not given custody of any of them. For me, that's a great relief given what they said on a TV news interview about the situation.

    Both parents have been charged with child neglect for not getting Ariel the help she needed after what her uncle and brother had done to her. If I didn't mention it in an earlier post, the uncle got the brother to have sex with Ariel for his amusement a number of times while he was sexually abusing her. And later the brother was caught having sex with her again after the uncle was locked up. The parents did nothing to help her deal with the abuse she had lived through.

    Both parents have also been charged with child abuse for keeping Ariel locked up in her room for up to 20 straight days with nothing but a blanket and a pail to use as a toilet. This happened over and over for several months and caused Ariel to miss school.

    Both parents have signed over their parental rights over all three of their children.


    More later. Stay tuned!
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  5. Here it is two weeks later and I've been unable to find any new info on this situation. Then again, I live six timezones away so it's not always easy. If anyone else interested in this situation hears about the outcome of the parent's trail for child neglect and abuse, I'd greatly appreciate it if they would share what they know on here.

    Thanks!

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  6. Here I am again...

    As of 20 June or almost two months after my last post on here, I did a search on the Florida Times Union website. The last article about this case was published on the 2nd of April. Looks like the parents haven't had their day in court yet.

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  7. And now, almost two and a half months since my post above, I have found nothing new. I'm sure the parents have been tried for abuse and neglect of their daughters by now and are most likely serving time for their actions and inactions. Too bad this case has dropped off the radar.

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  8. I'm following this case for a project in my MSW program. I am not sure if the parents have been to court, there was a news story that said they were to go to court in early June but I can't find a thing that says they did so I wonder if there is just some legal wrangling going on by the defense to keep this out of courts until everyone's forgotten about it.

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    1. Thanks for that, Carrie.

      I'm the one that started this conversation. I've lived in different parts of Florida for some years but not since the 80's. I'm retired and am now far away. I'm interested in this because the Lake City area is between two of the places I've lived in previously and because of Ariel's long term child abuse. I'm sure you know at least as much about this as I do if not more given that you're in the state where it's going on..

      I think it's pretty strange that everything went silent on this since April. I've just seen where the parent's case came up on 27 April. they were not in the courtroom and their lawyers plead 'not guilty' for both of them on the child abuse charges they were facing. Their next court date was to have been on 18 May. I went back ten pages in Google's search results there wasn't anything else.

      From the Gainesville Sun on 27 April 15:
      "Live Oak attorney James Janousek, representing Keith Kornegay, had no comment. Attempts to reach attorney Christopher Craun, who is listed as representing Misty Kornegay, were unsuccessful."

      Is it possible that you can contact the Clerk of the Court for Columbia County and ask some questions? Besides what happened to the parents, what happened to the girls? Are they still separated from each other? Have the two younger ones been reunited? Are there any plans for this to happen? I'm not asking for any kind of contact information with them, I'm just curious about their situation.

      Thanks!

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  9. I'm the one that started this topic and have made most of the posts on it.

    It took from January to November but justice has finally been served on the Kornegay parents for their indirect role in the death of their 16 your old son Damion and their direct role in the problems of their oldest daughter Ariel.

    Sort of.

    Here are the details from News 4 Jax.com , Channel 4 TV in Jacksonville::

    "Misty and Keith Kornegay pleaded guilty to intentional act of child abuse and child neglect charges. They were sentenced to 10 years' probation, two years' house arrest and were ordered to pay fines and court costs."

    Given what happened in this situation, this is incredibly light.

    One of their four children was killed by one of the others.

    Ariel, the second child, had been tormented sexually, emotionally and physically. First by her Uncle Kevin for the sexual abuse she suffered, during which her deceased brother played a role against his sister by having sex with her a number of times for the uncle's enjoyment.

    Then the parents did nothing to see that she got the care and counseling she needed to deal with that, which started when she was only 8 or 9 years old.

    That lack of care led Ariel to start acting out at home and lowered her school performance as she could no longer cope with the impact of her abuse. Her parents reacted by keeping her locked in her room for up to 20 straight days at a time. The room contained only a blanket and a bucket that was used as her toilet.

    In addition, the parents were often both absent from the home for up to several days at a time and left the brother in charge of his three sisters, aged 3, 11 and 15.

    I was expecting them to both be locked up for anything up to ten years given what happened so this is an unpleasant surprise for me. At least they locked up the uncle for life when what he had done to her came to light. The parents had already given up all of their parental rights to their daughters in an earlier hearing.

    I hope that sometime soon the three sisters can be reunited. Maybe after Ariel finishes high school and becomes an adult.

    I also hope there will be a through investigation of all the agencies that let Ariel fall through so many cracks until she ended up at her breaking point.

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  10. OK, I'm back again with a little more news on this item. It comes from WJAX via the Inquistir website.

    "Keith and Misty Kornegay were scheduled to go to trial in December on felony abuse and neglect charges. But they accepted a plea agreement that allowed them to avoid going to prison and serve the first two years of their probation under house arrest.

    According to a WJAX report, their daughter approved of the house arrest sentence, because she wanted Keith and Misty Kornegay to “know what it’s like to have your home be your prison.”

    I'm happy that Ariel is satisfied with this but I think that prison would have been a better place for them.

    I also think this speaks many positive volumes about Ariel's character and humanity. After the years of sexual, physical and psychological abuse she was not vengeful towards her parents.

    I wish her and her sisters the best. They certainly deserve it.

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  11. The reason they got the deal they got was because they gave the prosecutor information that proved that Ariel had planned the murder for a lot longer than anyone knew and that she had lied to everyone and that she hated Damien because she thought he was their parents favorite. The journal also told about her friend that was in foster care who got her parents arrested too. That her friend was with a foster parent who let her do whatever she wanted. It also list how long she was actually locked in her room by her parent and it was really under a week. That her brother was the one putting her in the room when the parents were out. The father worked driving a truck and wasn't home much but the mother was unemployed but hardly ever came out of her room to help the son with his sister's. So Mr. BS if you knew so much how come you didn't know about that stuff.

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    1. I didn't know it because it didn't come up in any internet searches of local news outlets. I've already mentioned that I haven't lived in Florida in ages.
      And I suspect that never came up online is because what you're saying is both false and ignores the physical, psychological and sexual abuse that Ariel endured between ages 9 and 15 and got no help and counseling for. It's almost like you're defending Damien for what he did to her.

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    2. To Anonymous who has kept us up to date with your postings, thank you! It's obvious you genuinely care about the girls' welfare. I read all of your words, I appreciate where you're coming from.
      The person you replied to isn't almost defending Damien, they are totally defending him. Notice it's all against Ariel, not one bit of sympathy for her plight. Damien was also a product of his upbringing, and for that, I have sympathy for him too, he must have been as damaged as Ariel for the uncle have him do these things at that young age. At 16 though, there's no question he knows right from wrong. The parents are totally responsible for this disaster, they are clearly dysfunctional, no parenting skills at all. As for the grandparents, I too am relieved they didn't get custody. I remember them saying it was a normal household with usual teenage tantrums, etc. Their SON was jailed for dreadful sexual abuse of Ariel, so they clearly were aware of what he'd done. What help/support did that little growing child receive from them back in 2010 I wonder. That they could use 'normality' alongside their family's name was frightening to me. Alarm bells ringing everywhere. I'm sure you know where I'm coming from ...
      Thank you for all your updates ... and for caring about these children. x

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  12. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to Ariel, Nicole and Brie!!!

    I hope you are reunited soon!

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  13. To A. Bradley:

    You are most welcome and thanks for your support!!! I grew up in a very dysfunctional and abusive family but not as 'out there' as the Kornegays. I understood more than most what she had been through and the horrors that go through a child's mind when that happens. Worse yet, they never really go away, there's always something left inside the victim no matter how old they get to be.

    Seems odd that here we are in the 21st century yet a fair number of us humans still live in the Dark Ages.

    I nearly choked when I saw what the parents got from the court. NO jail time at all! And nothing that I could find out about it online other than they took a plea deal. I could have gone to work for what is HRS (Health and Rehabilitative Services, the old name of DCF) as a caseworker when I graduated long ago. My senior year internship showed me that they were a place more interested in themselves as an organization than helping the children that were supposedly in their care. I don't regret not doing that kind of work for a state agency as I don't think I could have been very effective in that situation. And from what I've heard it's not that much different in other states. I ended up doing something different in life and now I'm retired.

    One small correction. It was Kevin Kornegay that abused Ariel and got Damien to participate, so it was on her father's side of the family. The Pittmans the couple in denial in those TV news clips, were Ariel's maternal grandparents and if I remember correctly, the grandmother had remarried at some point so Mr. Pittman wasn't related to the children. I don't recall ever seeing anything about the paternal grandparents in any of my searches or about the aunt who thankfully blew the whistle on her horrible husband. I'd give that woman a huge hug for doing the right thing if I were ever to meet up with her.

    Stay Fine As A Porcupine!!!
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  14. I would just like to say that this case has Cluster B abuse all over it (Narcissistic Personality Disordered parent in particular). Narcissistic parents usually assign roles to children such as favorite "golden child" who can do no wrong and a "scapegoat child" who can do no right (parent sets the roles and expects the rest of the family to comply). Severe narcissistic parents cannot take any complaints about family issues, including sexual abuse (they look at it as provokingly unflattering of their parenting abilities instead of tragic for their child, believe it or not), thus the reason for Ariel being locked in a room instead of sending her to counseling and putting a stop to their son's aggression against his sister(s).
    I have had exposure to many survivors of child abuse and sibling abuse often goes hand in hand with it, as well as narcissistic personality disordered parents "letting" their child be sexually abused. Disordered narcissists believe that abused children will be compliant children. Isolation from friends and family is part of how disordered parents "punish" a child who speaks out.

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    1. To Lise:

      I am the one that has done most of the posting on here.

      Thank you for your interesting contribution. I think my mother was an NPD parent. I was the scapegoat and one of my sisters was absolutely golden. In this case Ariel was the scapegoat and Damien was golden.

      I would love to have a long talk with Ariel and Nicole to learn about the family dynamics as they saw them. I'm sure both are greatly relieved not to be in that horrible situation any longer.

      A year has passed since this incident took place. Ariel will be a senior in high school this fall and Nicole has started middle school. It will be a time of important changes for both of them and I daresay they are better able to deal with those changes now than they were a year ago.

      I wonder if Nicole got or is getting and help for the issues she may have had in that family. I would think that she also needed counseling. She may have had some fears of becoming a victim like Ariel did or become the new scapegoat if Ariel were to be removed from the family for any reason. Those fears may not have been fully resolved if she didn't get any professional help after the incident took place even though she was no longer under her parents control.

      Thanks again and Stay Fine As A Porcupine!!!
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    2. I was laying on my bed asleep with my at the time 2 year old watching tv when i got the phone call my bestfriend Kevin had been locked up for molesting Ariel....my heart stopped this man had been exposed to my child had he hurt him?! it's been 6 year's and thankfully the answer was no i pray everyday the same answer is no he did not hurt his own child like he did Ariel and Damien fast forward 5 year's i was sitting at the kitchen table drinking coffee and watching tv ....i got a call again ariel had shot damien and the info poured in over the next few day's i cannot give much more details other than all the girl's are Ok and getting the counseling they should have had year's ago and the last time i heard they were all seperated but seeking visitation with each other.

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  15. Hello, Fellow Anony!

    It sounds like you have been close to the Kornegay family until recently and maybe still are in some way.

    First, I would like to ask for a clarification on one point above. Are you saying that Kevin was your best friend of that your best friend (un-named but a different person-I ask because I sometimes skip letters, words and even phrases when I type) told you about Kevin being locked up? I have the idea that you know him and perhaps very well. That certainly must have magnified the shock of hearing about what happened to him and most importantly, why it happened.

    What can you tell us about Kevin's ex, the one who discovered the videos and took them to the police? I am not asking for any contact info on her, just how is she doing. Maybe she's found someone else by now? I know she's not a blood relative of the girls but given what she did (she seems to have been the only responsible adult in that family) has she had any interest in seeing them since a year ago? Also, I take it that she and Kevin had at least one child of their own in the past. If so, are they OK? I'm sorry you had to learn what an evil person he was and I suppose that you regularly thank your lucky stars that both you and your son escaped unharmed from him.

    Thanks for the update and please keep us informed whenever you learn something more about the kids and how they are getting along. I'm very happy to hear they are finally getting the professional help they so desperately needed for so long, especially Ariel. I really, really hope the girls can be reunited again but there can not be too many foster families willing to take three children together, especially when one has scars that could well last her a lifetime. I suppose the best we can hope for is they can visit each other from time to time.


    Stay Fine As A Porcupine!!!
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  16. BEWARE: There appears to be severe misinformation by one of the "Anonymous" contributors above, one that whitewashes the guilt of the parents.

    For example, he implies Ariel was held imprisoned in her room for less then a week.

    Yet it is her own FATHER who admitted to the cops, per his ARREST AFFIDAVIT, that Arial was imprisoned for as long as "APPROXIMATELY TWENTY DAYS" !!!

    Furthermore, the parents admitted Ariel would spend MOST of the time imprisoned in the room -- on average "four times a week" -- and for 'offenses' as little as merely "talking back"!

    So per their own admissions on the affidavit, Ariel lived most of her time imprisoned, usually a day or two at a time, but also up to THREE WEEKS in a row.

    The mother also explicitly admitted that the punishments were EXCESSIVE and that Ariel's living conditions were "INHUMANE" (the MOTHER's own term, per the arrest affidavit).

    Ariel was kept in a filthy room with only a bucket and a blanket (not even a mattress, so she slept directly on the floor). The room smelt of urine, per the police.

    Parents also admitted they DENIED medical care to Ariel after she REPEATEDLY attempted suicide! Instead, they helped drive Ariel completely insane by taking her out of school, out of the reach of any adult that could have gotten her professional help... and instead keeping ISOLATED an in SOLITARY CONFINEMENT much of her time with apparently NOTHING to do but pace around a little empty cell. That is a catastrophic way to treat a mentally ill and suicidal child!!!

    The poster above also pretends that Ariel got her parents arrested, when in fact it was the admissions by the parents, combined with forensic evidence gathered in the house, that got the parents arrested!

    So please readers beware of MISINFORMATION spread by apologists for the parents. It is directly contradicted by information in the arrest affidavits, including admissions by the very parents.

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  17. I was recently at their place in White Springs which caused me to read about what happened online. Couldn't help but wonder if the 3 yr old sister was actually Ariel's baby with either the uncle or the brother.

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