Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Afro Comb Killer Sentenced to 10 Years

Julie Sheriff. Family photo.

A teenager girl who was convicted last month of killing a classmate with the spiked end of an Afro comb will be detained for a minimum of 10 years, a British court has decided. On July 27, the Central Criminal Court in England ruled that Rebecca Douglas, 16, is guilty of murdering Julie Sheriff, also 16, with the spiked end of a metal Afro comb. The assault took place in May of last year on a South London street.  A witness reported that the teen first struck Sheriff in the collarbone, then plunged the comb into her temple. The instrument penetrated Sheriff’s brain, and she remained in a coma for almost five months before dying in September.

Replica Afro comb shown to jury. Photo: BBC News/Central Criminal Court.

Sheriff was an immigrant from Sierra Leone, who moved to England with her family in 2006.  She and Douglas were allegedly involved in a bitter dispute concerning gossip and boys. After the attack, Douglas sent a Blackberry message that read, “I see some girl that I hate, like I actually hate her with a passion, and I kind of stabbed her.”

In a statement to the court, Sheriff’s father, who worked as a policeman in Sierre Leonne, said.  ”I am left to wonder why I brought her here and if I hadn’t, she would still be alive. The result of seeing my beautiful, bubbly, brilliant daughter bedridden and in a vegetative state, has left me extremely depressed. The attack on my daughter was wicked, savage and senseless.” Douglas’s attorney said his client had a traumatic childhood and did not mean to kill the victim. Prior to sentencing, a judge told Douglas,  ”Your victim died a long, lingering death some months after you attacked her. You took possession of the pintail comb and struck out in fury.”

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