I have been doing this blog since 2012 and this is my 341st entry and yet I think of all the crimes that I have researched and compiled this has to be one of the, if not the, worse one. I have done many crimes involving the murders of children and they are all difficult to do. Most deliberate murders are senseless but never more so than the murder of a child. And, even still knowing this, this crime seemed even more senseless than the others. Six year old Shenosha Richards was apparently murdered for nothing more than the thrill of the kill. This was not a little girl who had upset her murderers in any way; this was not a baby that cried and got on someone's last nerve; this was not a child who was murdered by a parent or a caregiver. This was simply an innocent girl who was playing in a park and was lured by the promise of seeing a movie by someone she knew. At first I was thinking it could in some way compare to the infamous crime of Leopold and Loeb in which they kidnapped a young boy and would murder him but even that crime had an ultimate motive of money they planned to get from the boy's wealthy family. In this case there was nothing to gain.
On March 21, 1991 Shenosha was playing outside near her Chicago home when Latasha Pulliam approached her. Shenosha knew Latasha. In fact, the day before the two had gone to a park together. But, when another neighbor heard of this she warned Shenosha's mother that Latasha was not someone who should or could be trusted with her daughter and it was said that Shenosha was told to stay away from her. However, this is a six year old girl who was promised she could view a movie she wanted to see and obtain candy to boot. What six year old would not do that, especially with someone they had just been with the previous day?
When Shenosha did not return home there was a search done. Less than one mile from her home, on the back porch of an abandoned building her mother would find her. She had been murdered and placed in a garbage can and left on this porch. Within hours nineteen year old Latasha Pulliam and her forty-seven year old boyfriend, Dwight Jordan were arrested but to be honest I am unsure exactly how it was determined so quickly that they were involved.
It appears that Latasha seemed to talk rather quickly but over time has changed her story a bit. I will start with only the parts of her stories that remained consistent. Latasha had in fact talked the girl into returning to her apartment with her. Once at her home Latasha sent Shenosha into her bedroom while she admits to using cocaine. When Latasha went to her bedroom she would find Dwight Jordan in a position in which he was attempting to obtain an erection and Shenosha had some of her clothing removed. Apparently Jordan was unsuccessful in his quest so between the two of them they had used both a hammer as well as a bottle of shoe polish to sexually abuse Shenosha who begged for them to stop. At some point, apparently to stop her screams, Latasha took and electrical cord and wrapped it around the poor girl's neck and then with the cord still there took her to a nearby vacant apartment. It was said that Shenosha continued to beg to be allowed to live saying that she would not tell anyone, but then stated she would have to tell her parents, or at least her mother. With this statement Latasha pulled the electrical cord tighter and held it for some time. Soon Latasha heard someone knocking on her own apartment door and placed Shenosha in a closet in the vacant apartment. Her story was that she returned just a few minutes later to find Shenosha no longer breathing. At this point Latasha took the hammer that she had apparently carried from her apartment and hit Shenosha in the head at least three or four times. She had also taken a wooden doorstop with a nail in it and jabbed it into Shenosha's chest. At some point her body was placed in the garbage can and left.
In June of 1994 both Latasha and Dwight would face a jury. They were tried together but with separate juries. On June 15, 1994 Latasha was sentenced to death. Dwight's jury sentenced him to life in prison.
Before leaving the governor's office in January of 2003, outgoing Governor, George Ryan commuted the sentence of all 167 prisoners on Illinois' death row, including Latasha. Her sentence was commuted to life. She remains in prison. As far as Dwight Jordan, I am left a bit confused. I could not find him in the Department of Corrections website. I searched to find if he had died at some point but I was unsuccessful in determining anything. It appears that he has either died, or it also possible that his real first name is not Dwight. The latter has happened in cases before but I am generally able to figure that out. This case however became much more about Latasha, who has been described as a “female John Gacy,” and less about him.
As I said in the beginning I have done a lot of research on rather gruesome cases but this one was even painful to read what the autopsy found. It was determined that Shenosha had at least forty-two injuries to her body. She had two puncture wounds to her chest that had hit her lungs and a main artery. She also had the lacerations to her head from the hammer that had penetrated her skull. She even had numerous lacerations to her genital area. It was more than obvious that this poor little girl had been raped and tortured.... and for what? Well, according to a court psychologist, the one who compared Latasha to John Gacy it was the sexual satisfaction she received by hurting someone weaker than herself.
In 1997, prior to her sentence being commuted, Latasha had appealed her case. She had ended up being convicted on charges of 1st degree murder, two counts of criminal sexual assault and two counts of aggravated kidnapping but she had been originally indicted on 131 counts. At this point her attorney's were still arguing against the death penalty and they reported that in 1994 she had been examined by a psychologist who stated Latasha had an IQ of only 69, which would have made her ineligible for the death penalty. State witnesses disagreed with this saying they too had examined her and that it was their belief that she was faking mental illness and low intelligence.
At her trial there had been testimony relating to a child that Latasha had. Prior to the murder Latasha's own child, had been hospitalized at least twice before the age of two showing physical and sexual abuse being done to her. In one case she had been severely burned near her genital areas supposedly by hot water. It was not made clear but it does appear that she no longer had custody of the child at the time Shenosha was murdered.
By 2016 it seems that Latasha had changed her story a bit. In an interview Latasha would claim that there was never any intention of killing Shenosha and that she really had taken her to her home to watch the movie she had promised. She would claim that she did not know Dwight was home, let alone in the bedroom when she sent her in. She blamed being in a “drug haze” for the actions that she took but also blamed Dwight for his abuse of her and his control. Keeping in mind that Dwight was over twice her age at the time when she was nineteen I could have almost given her the benefit of the doubt of his controlling nature but that faded quickly. First there is the evidence against her daughter from previously and there was indication that she was not with him at the time. Secondly, there is the issue that she had taken Shenosha alone apparently to the vacant apartment where she continued the torture and then performed the actual murder of the child without him present. There was also evidence in court that she had sexually assaulted and beat at least one female prisoner while awaiting her trial. These actions cannot be blamed on Dwight. This comment from her made me question more what has happened to Dwight and if he has not died. This would make her new story more convenient if he has died as he could not contradict her statements.
If you are a reader of my blog then you have heard me say several times that I am neither an advocate for or against the death penalty and that I only find it appropriate in first the most heinous of crimes, but also in ones in which there is no questions left as to who committed the crime. This would be one of those cases in which had Latasha not had her sentenced commuted by a Governor who was obviously anti-death penalty that I would have rallied at her execution.