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The 14-Year-Old Cheerleader Who Murdered Her Ex-Boyfriend | The Oprah Winfrey Show | OWN

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OPRAH WINFREY (VOICEOVER): She was a popular cheerleader in school, who was once a straight A student, but that was before she lured her ex-boyfriend into the woods, so that her new boyfriend could murder him, set his body on fire, and dump it in this river. Phyllis is now serving time for that crime at a prison in Georgia. There’s a recent study, that we read, that has found that murder by teenagers in America has increased a shocking 93% in the last 4 years. It seems like our country is raising a generation of young killers.

And that’s what we’re talking about today, specifically young women who turn to violence. Phyllis, I know you didn’t start out, in your life, to end up where you are right now. How do you think this happened? It was really a bad choice, bad decisions. You know, I grew up in a family that there was a lot of love.

But, you know, I just decided not to– to follow in with what my mom– my mom and dad was telling me. I decided to take things into my own hands and live my life the way I wanted to live it. Because you were 14 when you did this, right?

PHYLLIS: Yes. I was. 14 years old. So what was going on in your life at 14 that could cause you now to be jailed for murder?

I was hanging around the wrong crowd. I was using drugs, a lot– a lot of peer pressure. Just in general, what every teenager goes through, it’s just that I decided, you know, I wanted to take it a little further.

OK. So this is what we’re trying to understand, because there are a lot of parents out there watching who are probably saying, I know this could never happen to my child, my son, certainly not my daughter, because my daughter is a cheerleader, just like you were.https://cherylhearts.com/senior-dating-sites-over-60/ My daughter is a straight A student, just like you were. So how does a straight A student end up in prison? What– what happened?

Were you– you were in love or thought you were in love? I thought I was. OPRAH WINFREY: OK.

This could happen to anyone, anyone, black, white, female, male. It doesn’t matter. OPRAH WINFREY: Take us through the day of the murder. What were you thinking on that day? How did this happen?

First of all, you have to understand drugs played a big role in my life at that time. I was thinking of Phyllis. I was looking out for Phyllis. What kind of drugs?

We’re looking at marijuana. We’re looking at cocaine, any kind of barbiturate, pills of any– pills of any type. OPRAH WINFREY: Are you saying you were on drugs when you– when you lured him into the woods?

A couple nights before I had you some cocaine and I’m pretty sure that I was still coming down from the high. OPRAH WINFREY: Uh huh? A couple of nights, you– it took you a couple of days? PHYLLIS: I think it was– the murder happened on a Friday, and I had taken the drugs, like, Wednesday night. So you’re saying the drugs were still in your body?

PHYLLIS: They may have been. They may have been. Are you saying that you weren’t rational?

Are you saying you weren’t responsible? Are you saying the drugs did it? PHYLLIS: No. I’m not blaming anything. I’m not blaming any– any of the drugs.

That played a part. But I– you have to understand that I take full responsibility of what happened– for what happened. OPRAH WINFREY: OK. So what did happen? Where do you– where would you like me to start?

OPRAH WINFREY: OK. Let’s start with Jimmy McCoy. You liked both Jimmy McCoy and Jimmy [INAUDIBLE] at the same time, right?

Or you had broken up with one Jimmy, because– I was– I was seeing– seeing both of them at the same time. OPRAH WINFREY: OK. So let’s say Jimmy McCoy is Jimmy 1 and Jimmy [INAUDIBLE] will be Jimmy 2? How about that? So Jimmy 1 convinced you to– to lure Jimmy 2 into the woods. It was basically both– both– both minds put together.

And– OPRAH WINFREY: And what were you luring him into the woods for? Because if you were seeing both of them at the same time, why would you want to kill them? At the time– you have to understand, I was torn between the two.

I didn’t know which one I wanted. OK? And in that particular time, I wanted Jimmy number 1. I know that sounds kind of– I don’t know how you– I know it sounds bad. Cold-blooded is what it sounds. PHYLLIS: Yeah.

Yeah. It’s– it’s hard to explain. OPRAH WINFREY: OK. So what did you all do? You premeditated that– you thought about this, for how long?

Not quite 24 hours. And the plan was to do what? Was the plan– the plan was, obviously, to kill him, but to kill him, why? First of all, Jimmy number 1 did not like him. OPRAH WINFREY: Uh huh.

They– they had a bad drug deal one time and another girlfriend was involved at one time. It was basically that they just didn’t like one another. And Jimmy number 1, you know, I can’t explain his motives. You know, I don’t know– I cannot speak for him.

OPRAH WINFREY: So what did he say? What did he say to you? He said, well, let’s kill him?

To go back to the conversation that led up to the murder, I would have to say that ideas was thrown around, robbing, beating up, murder. It was thrown around. OK, now, when it come time for the actual murder to happen, I wasn’t expecting it. I didn’t think it was gonna happen. That was in the back of my mind that it would, but I wasn’t positive that this is what is gonna happen.

But it was– OPRAH WINFREY: OK. So– so you all had agreed, you and Jimmy number 1 had agreed that you were gonna lure Jimmy number 2 into the woods, correct? Yes.

That– So how did you get him there? What did you say? I told him that I wanted to show him some marijuana plants.

And he said, well, OK. And that’s how he got back there. So when he got back there, what happened, Phyllis? PHYLLIS: We was walking down– it was a trail. Like it was– it was a road, but it had grown up.

We was walking down the road. And I knew Jimmy number 1 was in there– was in the woods somewhere, but I didn’t know where. And I was kind of, you know, looking around, wondering where he’s at.

As we was walking down the road, I heard a shot. At the time, I did not think, well, this is a gun being fired at Jimmy– Jimmy number 1. I do not think that. I thought it was somebody hunting. I heard Jimmy number 2 scream.

And again, I still actually thought, you know, he’s just playing around. And I turned around and looked and I seen that he had been shot. And he was screaming and he fell down. And you know, I– I started to go after him, because, you know, I was gonna walk up to him. And as soon as I started to move, another shot fired and I stopped.

I stood there for a few minutes. I was– well, a few seconds. I was shaking.

And you know, I was– didn’t know– didn’t know what to think, didn’t know what to do. I turned around, you know, and I looked and I seen Jimmy number 1 in the bushes. You know, and he was tell– he was putting his finger over his mouth, as this, you know, telling me not to say anything. During this time, it seemed like forever.

All I heard was Jimmy number 2 laying on the ground, moaning. I stood there and Jimmy number 1 come out of the woods. And he told– he, again, told me not to say anything. You know? So I just stood there, for a few minutes, one or two minutes maybe.

I stood there and Jim– Jimmy number 1 walked over to him. And I guess he was going over there to see if he was dead, you know? I suppose that’s what he was doing. He walked over to him and he kicked him in the head.

And told him– he said, you deserve it, you sorry son of a bleep. OPRAH WINFREY: After he shot him, kicked him in the head, what did you all do? My boyfriend took it– rolled him over and took the money out of his pocket.

He checked– he checked all of his pockets for any– any drugs and any money. After he had done that, he– you know, he was kind– I feel he was kind of scared, you know? Maybe– he didn’t– he didn’t know what to do.

OPRAH WINFREY (VOICEOVER): She was a popular cheerleader in school, who was once a straight A student, but that was before she lured her ex-boyfriend into the woods, so that her new boyfriend could murder him, set his body on fire, and dump it in this river. Phyllis is now serving time for that crime at a prison in Georgia. There’s a recent study, that we read, that has found that murder by teenagers in America has increased a shocking 93% in the last 4 years. It seems like our country is raising a generation of young killers.

And that’s what we’re talking about today, specifically young women who turn to violence. Phyllis, I know you didn’t start out, in your life, to end up where you are right now. How do you think this happened? It was really a bad choice, bad decisions. You know, I grew up in a family that there was a lot of love.

But, you know, I just decided not to– to follow in with what my mom– my mom and dad was telling me. I decided to take things into my own hands and live my life the way I wanted to live it. Because you were 14 when you did this, right?

PHYLLIS: Yes. I was. 14 years old. So what was going on in your life at 14 that could cause you now to be jailed for murder?

I was hanging around the wrong crowd. I was using drugs, a lot– a lot of peer pressure. Just in general, what every teenager goes through, it’s just that I decided, you know, I wanted to take it a little further.

OK. So this is what we’re trying to understand, because there are a lot of parents out there watching who are probably saying, I know this could never happen to my child, my son, certainly not my daughter, because my daughter is a cheerleader, just like you were. My daughter is a straight A student, just like you were. So how does a straight A student end up in prison? What– what happened?

Were you– you were in love or thought you were in love? I thought I was. OPRAH WINFREY: OK.

This could happen to anyone, anyone, black, white, female, male. It doesn’t matter. OPRAH WINFREY: Take us through the day of the murder. What were you thinking on that day? How did this happen?

First of all, you have to understand drugs played a big role in my life at that time. I was thinking of Phyllis. I was looking out for Phyllis. What kind of drugs?

We’re looking at marijuana. We’re looking at cocaine, any kind of barbiturate, pills of any– pills of any type. OPRAH WINFREY: Are you saying you were on drugs when you– when you lured him into the woods?

A couple nights before I had you some cocaine and I’m pretty sure that I was still coming down from the high. OPRAH WINFREY: Uh huh? A couple of nights, you– it took you a couple of days? PHYLLIS: I think it was– the murder happened on a Friday, and I had taken the drugs, like, Wednesday night. So you’re saying the drugs were still in your body?

PHYLLIS: They may have been. They may have been. Are you saying that you weren’t rational?

Are you saying you weren’t responsible? Are you saying the drugs did it? PHYLLIS: No. I’m not blaming anything. I’m not blaming any– any of the drugs.

Date

That played a part. But I– you have to understand that I take full responsibility of what happened– for what happened. OPRAH WINFREY: OK. So what did happen? Where do you– where would you like me to start?

OPRAH WINFREY: OK. Let’s start with Jimmy McCoy. You liked both Jimmy McCoy and Jimmy [INAUDIBLE] at the same time, right?

Or you had broken up with one Jimmy, because— I was– I was seeing– seeing both of them at the same time. OPRAH WINFREY: OK. So let’s say Jimmy McCoy is Jimmy 1 and Jimmy [INAUDIBLE] will be Jimmy 2? How about that? So Jimmy 1 convinced you to– to lure Jimmy 2 into the woods. It was basically both– both– both minds put together.

And– OPRAH WINFREY: And what were you luring him into the woods for? Because if you were seeing both of them at the same time, why would you want to kill them? At the time– you have to understand, I was torn between the two.

I didn’t know which one I wanted. OK? And in that particular time, I wanted Jimmy number 1. I know that sounds kind of– I don’t know how you– I know it sounds bad. Cold-blooded is what it sounds. PHYLLIS: Yeah.

Yeah. It’s– it’s hard to explain. OPRAH WINFREY: OK. So what did you all do? You premeditated that– you thought about this, for how long?

Not quite 24 hours. And the plan was to do what? Was the plan– the plan was, obviously, to kill him, but to kill him, why? First of all, Jimmy number 1 did not like him. OPRAH WINFREY: Uh huh.

They– they had a bad drug deal one time and another girlfriend was involved at one time. It was basically that they just didn’t like one another. And Jimmy number 1, you know, I can’t explain his motives. You know, I don’t know– I cannot speak for him.

OPRAH WINFREY: So what did he say? What did he say to you? He said, well, let’s kill him?

To go back to the conversation that led up to the murder, I would have to say that ideas was thrown around, robbing, beating up, murder. It was thrown around. OK, now, when it come time for the actual murder to happen, I wasn’t expecting it. I didn’t think it was gonna happen. That was in the back of my mind that it would, but I wasn’t positive that this is what is gonna happen.

But it was– OPRAH WINFREY: OK. So– so you all had agreed, you and Jimmy number 1 had agreed that you were gonna lure Jimmy number 2 into the woods, correct? Yes.

That– So how did you get him there? What did you say? I told him that I wanted to show him some marijuana plants.

And he said, well, OK. And that’s how he got back there. So when he got back there, what happened, Phyllis? PHYLLIS: We was walking down– it was a trail. Like it was– it was a road, but it had grown up.

We was walking down the road. And I knew Jimmy number 1 was in there– was in the woods somewhere, but I didn’t know where. And I was kind of, you know, looking around, wondering where he’s at.

As we was walking down the road, I heard a shot. At the time, I did not think, well, this is a gun being fired at Jimmy– Jimmy number 1. I do not think that. I thought it was somebody hunting. I heard Jimmy number 2 scream.

And again, I still actually thought, you know, he’s just playing around. And I turned around and looked and I seen that he had been shot. And he was screaming and he fell down. And you know, I– I started to go after him, because, you know, I was gonna walk up to him. And as soon as I started to move, another shot fired and I stopped.

I stood there for a few minutes. I was– well, a few seconds. I was shaking.

And you know, I was– didn’t know– didn’t know what to think, didn’t know what to do. I turned around, you know, and I looked and I seen Jimmy number 1 in the bushes. You know, and he was tell– he was putting his finger over his mouth, as this, you know, telling me not to say anything. During this time, it seemed like forever.

All I heard was Jimmy number 2 laying on the ground, moaning. I stood there and Jimmy number 1 come out of the woods. And he told– he, again, told me not to say anything. You know? So I just stood there, for a few minutes, one or two minutes maybe.

I stood there and Jim– Jimmy number 1 walked over to him. And I guess he was going over there to see if he was dead, you know? I suppose that’s what he was doing. He walked over to him and he kicked him in the head.

And told him– he said, you deserve it, you sorry son of a bleep. OPRAH WINFREY: After he shot him, kicked him in the head, what did you all do? My boyfriend took it– rolled him over and took the money out of his pocket.

He checked– he checked all of his pockets for any– any drugs and any money. After he had done that, he– you know, he was kind– I feel he was kind of scared, you know? Maybe– he didn’t– he didn’t know what to do.

OPRAH WINFREY: Because how was the boyfriend? You were 14? And how old was he? Jimmy number 1? PHYLLIS: He was 20 at the time.

He was 20. OPRAH WINFREY: And Jimmy number 2 was how old? He was 24.

He was 24. He didn’t know what to do, you know? And he was asking, you know, what next? What next?

You know? And I just– OPRAH WINFREY: You just ruined it for every young girl trying to date an older man. All the teenage girls out there are saying to their mom, but Mom, he’s only 20. You just ruined it for all of them. And maybe that’s good.

So– Good. So go ahead. Continue your story. He rolled him over, took the money. Took the money.

And you know, he said, well, maybe we can burn it, you know, burn the body. I said, well– you know, I was scared. I didn’t know what to do. You know, I’m still in shock, don’t know– didn’t know– couldn’t believe what had happened.

You know, I’m still like standing there. He took the body and drug it into the bushes. OK? Me and Jimmy number 1 proceeded to the truck, got into the truck that Jimmy number 2 was driving, drove to a gas station like 20– about 20 minutes away, purchased some gasoline, come back to the site of the murder, took the body a little farther down the road, and poured gasoline all over the body and set the body on fire. After– You did this to somebody who you were involved with?

PHYLLIS: Yes. Who you probably had been telling not too– too long before that you loved and cared about. No.

I never told him that I loved him. OPRAH WINFREY: No? – No. I didn’t do that.

But he must’ve been under the impression that you cared about him. He– I feel he thought that I liked him a great deal. Yeah. Because you let him think that. Right.

And so you sat there and watched his body burn? Or stood there? I stood there for a few minutes and I walked off. And I sat in the truck. That’s what I did.

OPRAH WINFREY: And then, you all left and didn’t you go to the beach? You skipped a part. OPRAH WINFREY: OK. After Jimmy number 1 realize— we both realized that the body wasn’t gonna– you know, I guess both of us was expecting the body to turn into ashes. You know, that’s– I guess that’s what we was expecting.

After we realized that, Jimmy picked the body up and put it in the back of the truck, OK? Drove off to a saltwater– saltwater creek and discarded the body into the salt water. And then, we left and went to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. OPRAH WINFREY: What what did you all do in Myrtle Beach? First of all, we purchased a motorcycle with the money that was retrieved from the body.

We basically– we just– we went– we went to visit some family of mine. Acting as though this had never happened, obviously. PHYLLIS: Right. They– they I don’t– they didn’t suspect nothing of the sort.

OPRAH WINFREY: How’d you get caught? How did you get caught? After we had returned to Georgia, we come to my house. And the victim’s family come to my house that Sunday night. They come to my house Sunday night, saying that– asking me if I’d seen Jimmy number 2. And I lied and told them that I had not seen him since Friday night, because they knew he was supposed to have been with me.

OPRAH WINFREY: Are you sorry? Very. You know– OPRAH WINFREY: How did this happen to you, Phyllis? How did this happen?

OPRAH WINFREY: Yeah. I mean, because how did this happen? You seemed to have had everything going.

You had loving parents. You said that. You were an A student. You were a cheerleader.

How did this– how did this happen? And how can you keep this from happening to somebody else? Number one, don’t get involved– or let– let me go back. Listen– you know, listen to your parents.

My father told me, he said leave one of them boys alone. Somebody’s gonna get hurt. You know, that– those were my father’s exact words. And I said, Daddy, you’re crazy.

You don’t know what you’re talking about. A month later, I’m locked up for murder. You know, your parents know what– your parents know what is best for you. They know what they’re talking about.

Listen to your parents. And don’t– don’t get involved with drugs. OPRAH WINFREY: Let me ask you this. Can you believe yourself sometimes? When you were 15 years old, you were locked up in prison?

You know, I still, today, you know, can’t believe what happened. You know, it’s reality. I know that it actually did, but I’m still amazed. You know, why?

What happened? What went wrong? You know, I just– you know, I feel terrible, you know.

OPRAH WINFREY: Have you apologized to– to Jimmy number 2’s parents? I have wanted to terribly, but my lawyer instructed me not to have any contact with them. This was before the trial. OPRAH WINFREY: What do you want to say to them? There’s nothing that I can say that will bring Jimmy number 2 back.

There’s nothing I can say that’ll bring him back. And there’s nothing I can say that can ease the pain, but I just want them to know that I am truly sorry, you know? And I– I understand if they don’t forgive me.