A Look Back at the Teenage 'Thrill Killer' Who Slit the Throat of a 9-Year-Old Girl
ST. MARTINS, MO — On the evening of October 21, 2009, 15-year-old Alyssa Bustamante told her nine-year-old neighbor in the small town of St. Martins, Missouri, that she had a surprise for her.
Elizabeth Olten followed Bustamante to the woods, where she viciously attacked the little girl, stabbing her repeatedly and slitting her throat. After the kill, she calmly buried the fourth grader’s body in a hole she had dug on a day off from school — and went to church.
Shockingly, investigators would later reveal that the teen killed her young victim for the thrill of it. “Ultimately, she stated she wanted to know what it felt like,” Missouri State Highway Patrol Sergeant David Rice, who heard Bustamante’s confession, testified during a court hearing.
FBI agents seized a journal from Bustamante’s bedroom during a search of her family’s home the day after Elizabeth went missing, and found entires written on the night of the killing describing it as “ahmazing” and a “pretty enjoyable” experience.
A passage from the teen’s journal, which was referenced during her murder trial, read:
“I just f***ing killed someone. I strangled them and slit their throat and stabbed them now they’re dead. I don’t know how to feel atm [at the moment]. It was ahmazing. As soon as you get over the “ohmygawd I can’t do this” feeling, it’s pretty enjoyable. I’m kinda nervous and shaky though right now. Kay, I gotta go to church now…lol,”
Elizabeth’s mother, Patty Preiss, said that her daughter left at around 5 P.M. on the day she went missing after begging to go play with Bustamante’s younger sister. She never came home.
The case made national headlines partly due to the brutality of the crime — and also due to Bustamante’s social-media profile. On a (now deleted) YouTube page in her name, she listed one of her hobbies as “killing people.” The page also featured footage of Bustamante and one of her brothers shocking themselves on an electrified fence.
On her Facebook page, several images were posted of her with red smeared lipstick and scary-looking black kabuki-style makeup over her eyes. As the case unfolded, Bustamante’s journal and social-media profiles continued to provide a picture of a very disturbed mind.
She confessed to being depressed and cutting herself, and a week before the murder she wrote that she was unable to use her cell phone because the charger had died — so could not talk to anyone about the depression and rage she was feeling.
During the trial, Bustamante’s attorneys argued that she had had a troubled childhood and deserved a degree of leniency. At an earlier hearing, juvenile justice officials testified that the troubled teen had attempted to commit suicide in 2007 and had been receiving treatment for depression. But Preiss called Bustamante an “evil monster” and “not even human,” adding: “I hate her, I hate everything about her.”
After her arrest, Bustamante was charged with first-degree murder. In court, she expressed remorse to Olten’s family, saying, “I know words can never be enough and they can never adequately describe how horribly I feel for all of this. If I could give my life to get her back I would. I’m sorry.”
In 2012, Bustamante was sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole — which means that she could walk free one day.