Murder of Jennifer Daugherty

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Jennifer Lee Daugherty (November 8, 1979 – February 11, 2010) was murdered in Greensburg, Pennsylvania in February 2010.[1] Daugherty, who was mentally disabled, was tortured and murdered before being wrapped in Christmas decorations, put inside a garbage can and dumped in the parking lot of Greensburg Salem Middle School.[2]


During torture and abuse sessions, which lasted for 36 hours, Daugherty's attackers tied her up, forced her to consume feces and urine[3][4] and detergent; beat her with a towel rack, a vacuum cleaner hose, and a crutch; shaved her head; painted her face with nail polish; forced her to write a fake suicide note; and then stabbed her to death. Six suspects were charged with criminal homicide, kidnapping and other counts related to her death:[5]

  • Robert Loren Masters, Jr., age 36
  • Ricky Smyrnes, 23
  • Melvin Knight, 20
  • Peggy Darlene Miller, 27
  • Amber Meidinger, 20
  • Angela Marinucci, 17.

According to her relatives, Daugherty had the mental abilities of a 12- to 14-year-old, she trusted everyone, and she had thought that the suspects were her "friends."[6]

Allegheny County Coroner Cyril H. Wecht, who has conducted and reviewed thousands of autopsies of homicide victims, stated, "... This is one of the most horrific cases I have seen... You have one young, defenseless woman, six people who are keeping her captive and doing all of these things, knowing she is [mentally challenged]. Put it all together, it is bizarre, it is extreme barbarism."[7]


As of November 3, 2010, the prosecution was seeking the death penalty for Smyrnes, Knight and Meidinger.[8]
On August 3, 2011, Angela Marinucci was formally given a mandatory life sentence without possibility of parole after being found guilty in May of first degree murder.[9] As she was 17 at the time of the crime, she was ineligible for the death penalty.[9]
On April 12, 2012, Melvin Knight of Greensburg, Pennsylvania pleaded guilty to first- and second-degree murder, kidnapping, and conspiracy to commit murder and kidnapping.[10]
On August 30, 2012, a jury deliberated several hours before voting to put Knight to death.[11]
On February 28, 2013, Ricky Smyrnes was sentenced to death.
On Wednesday, December 4, 2013, Amber Meidinger, of Greensburg, was sentenced to 40 to 80 years in prison after pleading guilty to third-degree murder, kidnapping and conspiracy.[12]
The final two suspects, Robert Masters Jr.and Peggy Miller, pleaded guilty to third-degree murder, conspiracy to commit murder and conspiracy to commit homicide on December 19, 2013. Each faces 50 to 100 years in prison. Sentencing is to occur within 90 days.[13]


  1. ^ Feds: Pa. Torture Death Might Be Hate Crime, The New York Times, February 16, 2010[dead link]
  2. ^ Kotz, Pete (February 19, 2010). "Jennifer Daugherty, Mentally Disabled, was Tortured & Murdered by Her 'Friends'; 6 Arrested". True Crime Report (New York). Retrieved 2010-09-30. 
  3. ^ "Graphic Tapes Describe Jennifer Daugherty's Torture Death". Pittsburgh Channel (Pittsburgh). March 5, 2010. Retrieved 2010-09-30. [dead link]
  4. ^ 6 held for trial in Greensburg torture, slaying, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, March 4, 2010
  5. ^ Edecio Martinez (February 16, 2010). "Jennifer Daugherty, Mentally Disabled Woman, Trusted Everyone, Including Her Killers". CBS News. 
  6. ^ "Pa. family: 'Friends' torture, kill disabled woman". Washington Post. February 13, 2010. [dead link]
  7. ^ Sadie Gurman (February 14, 2010). "How slaying victim came to know her attackers". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. 
  8. ^ Rich Cholodofsky (November 3, 2010). "6 to stand trial in Greensburg torture-slaying". Pittsburgh Tribune-Review ( Retrieved March 3, 2012. [dead link]
  9. ^ a b "'Greensburg 6' Suspect Formally Sentenced To Life In Prison". CBS Pittsburgh. August 3, 2011. Retrieved April 3, 2012. 
  10. ^ "Man pleads guilty in Daugherty killing". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. July 3, 2012. Retrieved July 28, 2012. 
  11. ^ "Jury Gives Death Penalty in PA Torture Killing". San Francisco Chronicle. August 30, 2012. Retrieved August 30, 2012. [dead link]
  12. ^ 4th of 6 convicted in Jennifer Daugherty’s torture, death |
  13. ^ "Final 2 defendants in Greensburg torture and killing plead guilty - Pittsburgh Post-Gazette". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. December 19, 2013.