Murder of Charlie Keever and Jonathan Sellers

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The Murder of Charlie Keever and Jonathan Sellers occurred on March 27, 1993, in San Diego County, California. The murders were solved via DNA match eight years after their deaths.

The victims[edit]

Charles "Charlie" Allen Keever (November 1, 1979–March 27, 1993) was a 13-year-old boy, the youngest of three children, siblings, Lisa Keever and Michael Keever. Charlie's parents are David Keever and Maria Keever. His father and two grandparents died before Charlie's murderer was discovered.

Jonathan "Jon" Lee Sellers (April 18, 1983–March 27, 1993) was 9 years old, the fourth of six children, two minutes younger than his twin sister, Jennifer. His older half-brother, Alton Williams II, later became a cast member on MTV The Real World: Las Vegas Season 12. His other siblings are Natasha Sellers, Dennis Michael Sellers and Tammie R. Sellers. Jonathan's parents are Dennis L. Sellers and Milena M. Sellers.

Both boys were buried in the Holy Cross Catholic Cemetery in Chollas View, San Diego.[1]

The crime[edit]

On Saturday March 27, 1993, Charlie and Alton Williams (age 13 at the time, and Jonathan Sellers' elder brother) decided to spend the day bike riding. However, a last-minute change of plans resulted in Alton staying behind and Jonathan joining Charlie instead. Jennifer, Jonathan's twin sister, also wanted to go along but Jonathan said he did not want a girl tagging along so Milena Sellers, Jonathan's mother, told Jennifer to let the boys enjoy the day and she can go next time, Jennifer remained at home.

Around noon, Jonathan and Charlie departed on their 20-inch royal-blue bicycles and went to Rally's restaurant (a local fast-food restaurant) in the Palm City neighborhood of San Diego. Afterward, they went to a nearby pet store and played with some of the dogs and cats, chatting with the manager and customers. After leaving the pet store, the boys were not seen alive again.[2][3]

Police surmise that somewhere along their bike ride the boys were lured or went to a makeshift igloo-like fort made out of brush along the Otay River in Palm City where they were molested and killed.

On Monday March 29, 1993, Charlie and Jonathan's bodies were discovered by a bike rider 10 yards from their bikes in overgrown brush on the west bank of the Otay River. Charlie was on the ground, his head on top of his and Jonathan's clothing. His genitals were bloody and showed extensive bite marks, the autopsy report concluded he was alive when the bite marks were inflicted on him. Tissue samples found in Charlie's mouth eventually proved to contain the killer's DNA.

Jonathan was found hanging by a rope from a castor bean tree. His legs and arms were bound with rope, his mouth gagged and he was naked from the waist down. A rope was wrapped tightly around his neck and his genitals were damaged.[2]

After the crime remained unsolved for some time, Charlie's mother, Maria Keever, chose to assume the role of a private investigator on the case. She obtained a handgun, dressed as a homeless person, and then eventually led police to her choice of suspect, whom police then exonerated.

Crime solved via DNA[edit]

In March 2001, a DNA database identified Scott Erskine as a suspect, based on the DNA found at the scene of the 1993 murders. Erskine was already in prison for a rape committed six months after the boys' murders.

In 2003, Erskine went to trial on the charges of two counts of murder with the special allegations of sodomy, oral copulation, child molestation and torture and three counts of special circumstances: torture, sexual assault and multiple murders. He was found guilty.

During the penalty phase of the trial, one juror did not want to give Erskine the death penalty, so the judge declared a mistrial for the penalty phase portion of the trial.

In April 2004, a new jury convened voted unanimously for the death penalty. On September 1, 2004, a California judge sentenced Erskine to death row and he was sent to San Quentin State Prison.[1]


  1. ^ a b J. Harry Jones (September 22, 2003). "Death penalty focus of Erskine case". The San Diego Union-Tribune. 
  2. ^ a b J. Harry Jones (August 29, 2004). "The long and costly trail leading to Erskine's conviction in slayings". The San Diego Union-Tribune. 
  3. ^ Ray Huard (April 14, 2005). "Victims need hope, slain boys' mothers say". SignOnSanDiego. Retrieved August 27, 2011. 

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