Elyse Pahler

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Elyse Pahler at age 15, some months before the murder

Elyse Marie Pahler (April 24, 1980[1] – July 22, 1995[2]) was a murder victim, whose parents attempted to sue the American thrash metal band Slayer, claiming that their music contributed to their daughter's death. Pahler was murdered in the summer of 1995. Her story was the basis for part of the storyline in the 2009 film Jennifer's Body.

The murder[edit]

Fifteen year old Elyse Pahler's body was discovered near her home in Arroyo Grande, California, in March 1996. She had been raped and murdered there eight months earlier by acquaintances Jacob Delashmutt, Joseph Fiorella and Royce Casey. The perpetrators apparently returned to the corpse and had sex with it on several occasions. The body was located after Casey confessed to the crime following a conversion to Christianity. All three eventually pleaded no contest to her murder and are now imprisoned and serving 25 years to life.[3]

The trio had lured Elyse from her house with the stated intention of killing her as part of a satanic ritual, although the crime bears many of the hallmarks of similar sexually motivated murders. In their defense, the defendants said they had needed to commit a "sacrifice to the devil" in order to give their heavy metal band, Hatred, the "craziness" to "go professional".

The legal case[edit]

David and Lisanne Pahler claimed that the Slayer songs "Postmortem" and "Dead Skin Mask" (from the albums Reign in Blood and Seasons in the Abyss, respectively) gave the three killers detailed instructions to "stalk, rape, torture, murder and commit acts of necrophilia" on their daughter. The lawsuit was originally filed in 1996 but delayed until 2000 when the killers' trial was concluded. The initial case was originally thrown out, the judge stating, "There's not a legal position that could be taken that would make Slayer responsible for the girl's death. Where do you draw the line? You might as well start looking through the library at every book on the shelf."[4]

Undeterred, the Pahlers launched a second lawsuit claiming that Slayer "knowingly distributed harmful material to minors."[5] This case too was dismissed, with Judge E. Jeffrey Burke stating, "I do not consider Slayer's music obscene, indecent or harmful to minors."[5]

Jacob Delashmutt himself stated in a Washington Post interview that "The music is destructive [but] that's not why Elyse was murdered. She was murdered because Joe [Fiorella] was obsessed with her, and obsessed with killing her."[3]

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