Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Teen Killer Couples

Part Two- Larketa Collier and Sharon Patterson
A Suspicious Fire

Michigan map with Detroit locator
Michigan map with Detroit locator
 

On September 17, 2003, firefighters and police rushed to a burning house located at the intersection of Hampshire and Newport streets on Detroits east side. After getting the fire under control, an investigation was conducted to find the source of the blaze. They found something that they never expected.

Inside one of the bedrooms, sitting in her recliner, was Bertha Atkins, 64. Her remains had been battered and burned. A March 23, 2004, Detroit.com article stated that Atkins had been hit with a claw hammer, which pierced through her upper lip and tongue. Investigators determined that the victim had then been doused with gasoline and set on fire. Who could have committed such a horrendous crime? One witness was able to provide the answer.

Larketa Collier
Larketa Collier
A neighbor who called 911 after seeing the burning house also claimed he saw something else. According to a September 2004 Courttv.com article, Darren Smith witnessed two young girls calmly leaving the burning house, which struck him as unusual. Investigators learned that the girls were Larketa Collier, 16, the granddaughter of the victim, and her lover, Sharon Patterson, 17. They immediately became the primary suspects in the case, but they were nowhere to be found.

Sharon Patterson
Sharon Patterson
However, several hours after the fire had been extinguished, Larketa and Sharon showed up at the scene, where devastated family members and neighbors had converged trying to make sense of the ghastly crime. There was no doubt that the girls had been somehow involved in the murder and arson, yet the girls showed no remorse. In fact, they had just come from seeing the horror movie Jeepers Creepers.

Jeepers Creepers video cover
Jeepers Creepers video cover
Not long after they arrived, the girls were urged to go to the authorities and turn themselves in, which they did. They were taken into custody, questioned and eventually arrested for the murder of Bertha Atkins. As the details slowly emerged, the girls motive for committing the crime was the grandmothers disapproval of their lesbian relationship.

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