Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Murder of Terry King

The tween killers

Terry King
Terry King
The fire department of Cantonment, Fla., met with a gruesome shock when they battled a brutal blaze on Muscogee Road the Sunday after Thanksgiving in 2001. Terry King, 40, was still in the living room, sitting in his arm chair, his feet up on the table.

Flames leaped around him. His head had been crushed. He'd been beaten to death with an aluminum baseball bat.

The next day, King's two sons, Alex, 12, and Derek, 13, confessed to his murder. It had been Alex's idea, the boys said, and Derek had been the batter. Derek told the sheriff's office that he'd made sure his father was asleep, then struck with the bat, ten times, to make sure he was dead. They told the sheriff that they had been worried that their father would punish them for running away from home and spending 10 days hiding with a family friend in his trailer.

Alex (l) and Derek King
Alex (l) and Derek King
Later they would blame the crime on that friend, Rick Chavis, 40. First the King boys told investigators that Chavis had put them up to the murder, but then they accused Chavis of committing the crime himself.

Chavis was a convicted sex offender. Alex told investigators that he was in love with Chavis and that they'd had a romantic and sexual relationship.

It's little wonder that the Pensacola-area murder attracted nationwide attention, but the case got even stranger when it went to trial. Prosecutors charged Chavis with the murder and with molesting Alex. Chavis was tried, but the court sealed the verdict until the conclusion of the boys' trial for the same crime.