• Thu, Jan 23 - 8:00 am ET

Teen Girl Strangled Her Adult Boyfriend To Death Because She Obviously Had ZERO Parental Guidance

Warning: I’m about to get all sorts of judgmental up in here so be prepared. As a mom and as a woman stories like this piss me off in every single way imaginable. Jessica Burlew, age 16, was arrested Saturday after allegedly strangling her 43-year-old boyfriend during what was said to be a “consensual sex game.” Jessica was charged with second degree murder as an adult.

xenia blue hair

Her boyfriend, Jason Ash was declared dead after emergency services were called by the mother of Jessica, Tracey Woodside after she discovered Ash dressed but with his pants unbuttoned and not responding in the bedroom of their Phoenix apartment. According to the Daily Mail, Woodside told police that she left her 16-year-old daughter, who suffers from schizophrenia and autism, alone with Ash and returned when Burlew phoned her to say that the 43-year-old man had been hurt. Jessica told police she used electrical wire to strangle him and then cut his body with a razor blade in order to “wake him up.” She continued cutting his body after he was unresponsive to “relieve stress.”  No charges have been filed against the mother.

I’m not a detective, but anyone with an internet connection can do a search for this poor girl and see her Facebook posting like this:

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Now, don’t get me wrong, many 16-year-olds are prone to writing morbid stuff and having an interest in vampires and goth stuff and hell, I was one of them. But considering her mom claims her daughter suffers from mental illness (and also considering some of Jessica’s Facebook posts were made from Devereux, which is a mental health facility) and autism at one point do you maybe NOT leave her alone with her 43-year-old boyfriend?

So now we have a man dead, and a teenager who will likely spend time in jail, and it just seems this all could have been avoided somehow. For all I know Jessica’s mom HAD to leave the apartment and for some reason she had to let her daughter have a relationship with this older guy, but for the life of me I just don’t get it. It would seem that if you know your teen has mental problems this is where you don’t let them have a relationship with a man old enough to be their father.

I feel bad for the man even though he shouldn’t have been dating a child, I feel bad for the mom because I’m sure she’s feeling pretty horrible at this point, and I feel awful for Jessica because who knows for a fact if she even understood what happened?

It’s easy for me to get all judgy about this because I don’t know what it’s like having a teen daughter with a mental illness, but I do know no matter what the mental state of my children are I won’t be leaving them alone in my home with their much older partners. Maybe the only time Jessica was happy was when she was with his guy. Maybe she was out of control and her poor mom thought this was the only way to make her happy. I don’t know, i’m not these people, but my heart breaks because it just seems like this could have somehow been avoided. This is just one of those situations where I wish someone would have stepped in and not left Jessica at home alone with her boyfriend.

(Images: Facebook)

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  • Dreiko

    Clearly this girl has issues. I’m not sure if the guy died by accident or not but either way I don’t think she’s culpable from the way she sounds. She needs serious help.

    As for her mom, she likely trusted him enough to leave em alone, he might have been good for her daughter.

    Honestly, to me what’s more weird is that you’d date someone who behaves and thinks like that girl seemingly does more than their age difference. Whatever fancies that dude had, being chocked to orgasm was probably just the top of the iceberg.

    I don’t even think she’s “goth”, I think she’s some kinda Twilight derivative thing. I loved vampires as a kid too but I wasn’t like that, it was more about cool capes and turning to bats and stuff.

  • chickadee

    I thought that the issue here that would make me angriest was the 27-year age difference, a la Paul Walker. Instead, it’s the fact that this child, who has obvious mental-health issues, is not receiving the care she needs in order to deal with serious neurological problems.

    I know that families of adult schizophrenics often struggle with the issue of the family member deciding that the medications are detrimental, and I believe that the patients cannot be forcibly medicated, and so they offer suffer from delusions in an attempt to avoid a mental cloudless that some meds have. But this is a CHILD. Why is she not being cared for properly, and why is the mother not monitoring her meds?

    • EX

      Children can’t be forced to take medications against their will either. I don’t know if that was the case here, but just because the person is a minor doesn’t mean the mother can force her to take meds (yes, she can pressure her, cajole her, use rewards and consequences but she can’t force her to take them).

    • chickadee

      Isn’t that what happens when children are institutionalized, though? Her behavior with cutting and her history would indicate that careful supervision is necessary in case a re-emergence of troubling symptoms occur.

    • EX

      I was more talking about mom making her take meds at home. It does seem now that she was/is a danger to herself or others so, yes, she probably should have been in the hospital. But unless there were some really clear indicators that she was a threat to herself or someone else before this happened it would have been hard to get her into the hospital.

    • chickadee

      Well, I guess that’s what I meant regarding privacy violation. If this girl was Xenia Nex on Tumblr, that alone would be enough to take steps, particularly given her medical history.

    • CatAtonic99

      I saw her Tumblr. Thought you might be interested in these-
      Her Vampirefreaks acct: http://vampirefreaks.com/soultaker11
      Jason’s Vampirefreaks acct: http://vampirefreaks.com/Gothadelic (I think she’s included in some of his photos?) He lists his age as 28.

    • KaeTay

      No but you can have them committed if they show signs of being a danger to others and themselves. It’s surprisingly not that difficult to have someone committed, i witnessed someone with no dangerous mental disorders get committed because of how her body responded to her medicine for seizers

    • EX

      Right, but it’s not clear (from this article) that there were clear signs she was a danger. Autism and schizophrenia do not inherently make someone dangerous. For the record, I agree that it would have been in everyone’s best interest if she’d been in an appropriate treatment facility. I’m just saying it isn’t always that easy. Hindsight is always 20/20 in these cases. But the fact is if she was lucid enough to argue that she was not a danger to herself or others, getting her involuntarily hospitalized would have been a challenge (at least in my state, can’t speak for Arizona).

    • chickadee

      http://www.kmov.com/news/national/Teen-accused-of-strangling-boyfriend-during-sex-charged-as-adult-241642691.html

      According to the above link, Burlew was supposed to be in a group home, and there appear to be numerous court documentary involving her medical history. As you correctly note, however, the original article does not mention this….

    • EX

      Thanks for providing the link. The fact that she was listed as missing from a group home definitely changes things quite a bit. It was also good to read that they are investigating her relationship with the victim/predator.

  • Kelly

    He’s a pervert who took advantage of a mentally ill teenager. I’m glad he’s dead. I wish mom could be charged with something.

    I hope the girl gets the help she obviously needs.

  • EX

    What a sad story. I do hope she ends up in a treatment facility and not in jail as that seems like it would be most appropriate in this case. (Since Schizophrenia and Autism are real disorders, unlike “affluenza.”)

  • keelhaulrose

    Age difference aside (though I’m waiting for the Paul Walker defenders to come defend this relationship) you’re right, there’s an obvious parental guidance issue here.
    I know my special-needs daughter is not going to be that teen I can leave at home, or even be ‘babysat’ by her older sister unless her self-harming or reckless behavior is drastically different. Add schizophrenia in the mix, especially unmedicated schizophrenia, and I’m sure she’s been warned by doctors that she could become dangerous. I know it’s really hard to be in that situation, but if you can’t handle it (and leaving her with her 43 year old boyfriend isn’t ‘handling it’) then you need to look at places that can handle it.
    I’m not saying this will happen in every situation, but this is the perfect storm of a situation, and pretty much anyone paying attention would realize that even if there wasn’t a death there was no good end to this situation.

    • drinkpepsi

      What exactly do you think the mom could do to control the girl
      that a 43 year old man couldn’t do?

      He should never have “dated” this girl to begin with. The age
      difference is enormous and the girl is clearly vulnerable. He
      is a predator.

    • keelhaulrose

      The 43 year old man was having sex with her. I sincerely doubt he wanted to ‘control’ her or draw limits for her. That might mean the end of his manipulations.
      Mom should have realized she was over her head and gotten help, as she had in the past judging by the posts from the treatment center. Leaving her 16 year old with a 43 year old ‘boyfriend’ isn’t being responsible, and most moms would have sat in their daughter’s doorway if they even left the boyfriend in the door until the boyfriend left or the cops came.

    • chickadee

      The mother could have been more careful and actively concerned with her daughter’s overall well-being, though, and that certainly isn’t demonstrated by confining this kind of relationship.

  • Alexandra

    I love you Eve, but I was a leetle upset that you didn’t focus more responsibility put on this guy a 43 year old with a 16 year old? ESPECIALLY with her mental/developmental disorders. This is WAY WAY WAY worse than the Paul Walker situation IMO.
    It is awful that he died, but she doesn’t seem to even know what was going on, she’s clearly delusional (I loved vampires/goth as a teen too, and this is beyond.) How was this not him taking advantage of a troubled teen?

    • Andrew Cole

      Pretty much.

    • drinkpepsi

      Agreed. The age difference in this case is huge. Add to the fact that the girl
      is clearly delusional or mentally fragile and it was very wrong of this 43 year
      old to “date” this girl.

      Also, it’s not like the mother left the 16 year old with a baby. She left the girl with a 43 year old man. Who do you think could control the girl better (if need be)? I suspect the 43 year old man is (or was) stronger than the mother.

    • KaeTay

      obviously not since I’m guessing she was not taking her medication and getting proper treatment for her conditions.

    • chickadee

      From the perspective of a parent of a 17-year-old, I will say that the problem with blaming the predator instead of the mother is that the mother, as the person who didn’t have the guy arrested at any point for statutory rape, is at least equally culpable.

      If some 43-year-old showed romantic or sexual interest in my teenager, he would be invited to leave via angry cat thrown at his head.

    • Kay_Sue

      I was going to say this (except that I’m not the parent of a 17-year-old…yet…and I don’t own a cat). His actions are morally reprehensible, disgusting, and inexcusable, but a parent has a responsibility to protect their child or children, especially one as potentially fragile as this one, and this mother failed at that stupendously.

    • drinkpepsi

      Agreed. I don’t know how any parent could allow their 16 year old to “date” a 43 year old. Especially if it’s illegal in your state (at least you have recourse and the police will be forced to respond).

      I know teens can be difficult. But this mom should have made it clear from the get-go that this guy was not welcome and that police would be contacted if he came near the girl again.

    • CG

      It is amazing what you will do/allow when faced with your teen either staying with you or just disappearing. My family faced a similar situation with my sister, and it basically came down to my mom giving in again and again because she was terrified of what would happen if she left (again). Not saying the mom should be devoid of blame, just saying you don’t know what you would end up allowing depending on circumstances. You just cant know.

    • chickadee

      I don’t know what circumstance would make me think my daughter would be better off in an abusive relationship with a man 27 years her senior. This girl was supposed to be living in a group home under supervision….and maybe on medication.

    • ted3553

      I don’t know enough about the situation but I do understand your comment because I too, had a 16 year old in a similar situation. With mental issues involved, I can’t begin to imagine what her mother may have been dealing with. If she was supposed to be in a group home, I’m not sure why her mom didn’t have her there so I definitely question that. I also really think her mom should have stepped in because this relationship was wrong and it’s different (not ok but different) when someone doesn’t have mental development issues. I mainly wanted you to know that I agree with your statement that you don’t always know what you would allow or not allow until you’re in those shoes and maybe it’s not a case of allowing but dealing with. I never allowed my stepdaughter to date an older man but I did figure out how to deal with it.

    • drinkpepsi

      I understand what you’re saying.

      I think if you strike right away, when the relationship is brand new (and hopefully before your daughter thinks she’s in love) then it may not end so tragically.

      Also, make it clear to your kid that she is only allowed to date boys who are X number of years older than her (two, three…depends on her age and her maturity level…but definitely not 27 years older!).

      Or have the cops approach them when they’re out on a date. The officer can approach them, ask some questions…remind the guy that any sexual contact could result in criminal charges. Maybe the police can scare him without your daughter knowing that you were involved.

    • FormerlyKnownAsWendy

      Front bumper! Fucking love it!

    • EX

      I would have agreed with you either way that this man’s behavior was immoral and simply heinous, but I just checked the age of consent in Arizona and it was also 100% illegal. The headline should be changed to “teen girl strangled her rapist to death…”

    • http://Mommyish.com/ Eve Vawter

      Oh I FFS totally blame him, I’m sorry that didn’t come across more. I’m with you, I’m blaming, 100000%, but I do think her mom should have stepped in

  • DA21mom

    This guy was not her “boyfriend.” Morally he’s a predator, and in many states, legally he’s her rapist. I’m not saying he deserved to die, but he I was clearly not a good guy. Calling him her “boyfriend” seems to normalize what is a clearly predatory relationship.

  • TwentiSomething Mom

    I have an in law with schizophrenia so hearing anything in the news about people with the illness being sentenced to prison or killed by the police is a touchy subject, but while this girl did commit a crime, she should be in a highly secured mental health facility to get her the help she needs. To lock her up in a facility without the proper treatment would be inhumane.

    As far as the guy goes, yea I’m sorry he’s dead, he didn’t deserve to die but I’m sure he had to know he was wrong for having a relationship with someone so much younger than he and that she had mental illness and could have been prone to violence.

    I do feel for the mom, I have seen what mental illness can do to families and how difficult a time she must have had to keep her daughter safe knowing she can’t monitor her every movement and who knows if she had the support she needed from the girl’s father or other family members.

    Sad all around.

  • Zettai

    I just read about this on another site and I think one of the most telling things was that the girl said she continued to cut him to “relieve stress”. I thought, no shit, she’s fucking a 43 year old guy and her mom thinks that’s okay; I am sure she has a lot more problems under the surface, like you’ve dug up here.

    I feel sorry for her but I DO NOT feel sorry for her mother, that woman failed her kid in the worst way.

  • KaeTay

    ok a 43 year old boyfriend is gross but what i noticed is this girl obviously was not on her medication or it was not a proper mix of medication. It’s important that people realize having schizophrenia qualifies you as a psychopath and your brain functions completely different then a normal human being.. combine that with autism and I cannot even imagine what the teen goes through on a normal basis. If the boyfriend was alive I would hope he would get jail time. I hope this girl ends up with the treatment she needs. It’s definitely not jail time but in psychiatric care.

    • EX

      Whoa. Schizophrenia is not the same as psychopathy. I’m not saying she doesn’t need treatment but that statement is factually incorrect.

    • CMJ

      Um. No. Schizophrenia does not qualify you as a psychopath. That is just wrong. And I know EX said it as well but I will not deal with that statement. At all.

    • JLH1986

      Schizophrenia in no way qualifies a person as a “psychopath”. Those who suffer from schizophrenia experience delusions and psychosis, which can sometimes be controlled by medication. They are NOT a “psychopath”. Schizophrenia does not automatically make a person violent. Before making blanket statements (that are totally incorrect) please do research. There are plenty of people who have schizophrenia who lead normal healthy happy lives. This girl’s mother let her down by allowing a much older man take advantage of her and then leaving her alone. I believe @disqus_RKeSmNm3bA:disqus also posted that the girl was missing from her group home. So the mother was doubly negligent. While I appreciate that you realize this young woman needs treatment not punishment, the rest of your comment is completely inaccurate.

    • K

      As a sister of a schizophrenic, that is an incredibly ignorant comment to make. Psychopathy refers to an aspect of someone’s personality or a personality disorder. The most successful people have certain levels of psychopathy; CEOs, surgeons, lawyers…

  • KaeTay

    I’m really proud of the comments in here. Everyone feels for the teenager and recognizes that she needs help that obviously was not given to her instead of seeing her as a monster everyone is seeing her as the product of a failed mental health system and lack of a strong willed parent who should have taken the measures needed to protect her daughter and those around her.

  • Kay_Sue

    I’m waxing way judgmental here, but I don’t feel the least bit sorry for this mother or this predator. I do feel an overwhelming amount of compassion for this child who has, essentially, been failed by this woman and manipulated by that man. I hope that the system works to try to find her help she desperately needs instead of going for blood like it is wont to do. /end judgmental protocol

    • meteor_echo

      Agreed. The mother failed this kid, and the man took advantage of her. I hope the girl ends up getting all the help she needs and won’t be locked up in prison.

  • Jallun-Keatres

    Wow… I know a guy by this name… He’s younger than me though; not the same guy.

  • Rachel Sea

    I’m sorry the guy died, but he should have been in prison. There is no justification for a 43 year old to be playing sex games with a 16 year old. The mother should be in prison too, for not calling the cops when a 43 year old boyfriend showed up. I hope the girl goes back to a mental facility and gets all the care she needs.

  • JLH1986

    I am struggling to feel any sort of empathy for the man who was so much older and clearly taking advantage of a young girl who has mental health issues. I do feel for his family, because they may not have known what he was doing and they are the ones who are suffering both at his loss and knowing he was dating a 16 year old girl. I am judging the hell out of the mother who knew her daughter was missing from the group home and her response wasn’t to call police, call the home but to leave the home with the man there. I’m hoping that long term treatment is what’s in store for her and not prison time.

  • Auntieof26

    I have to comment. I am Jessica’s foster Aunt. This is a girl who is mentally disturbed. This is a girl with a mother who wanted to be her friend, and wanted to “out-cool” her daughter at every turn. This is a mother who his her daughter from the group home she ran away from, and it’s not the first time her mother has selfishly stunted the emotional growth of her daughter. There is so much more to this story than what the news is saying. My heart hurts for all involved. Unless you know Jessica, your opinion and judgement holds no water.

    • http://Mommyish.com/ Eve Vawter

      I would love for you to email and tell me your side, eveevevawter at gmail dot com.

      Thanks so much for commenting and best to you in this horrible time

  • JM

    The girl had lied and told him and everyone else she knew that she WAS 19! I know the man, and he was not like that. And how come her mother, who also contacted him via emails/texts didn’t reveal her real age or stop the 2 from dating by getting an order of protection? The mother is to blame just as much as the guy!

    • http://Mommyish.com/ Eve Vawter

      I saw on some of her SM profiles she claimed to be 19, the whole damn thing is just soooo sad

  • Z

    She should not have even been arrested, she was abused by a pedofile who introduced her to this sort of sex act; she is not to blame he is.
    If the mother knew about this relationship then she is a piece of s***, if it were my child I would have beat him to near death then reported him to the police.