Fourteen year old Shirley Wolf and fifteen year old Cindy Collier had just met the day before the murder that shook a community. According to court documents the two teenage girls decided the best way to get out of their town was to steal a car and the best way to steal a car was to murder its owner. The two girls walked to a condo and began knocking on doors. When an elderly woman opened the door and let the two girls in they brutally attacked the woman stabbing her over twenty five times before taking her keys and attempting to steal her vehicle. Shirley Wolf wrote in her diary that night “Cindy and I ran away and killed a old lady. It was lots of fun”. The two girls would be arrested soon after and both would be convicted of first degree murder however the two teen killers were sentenced as juveniles and Shirley Wolf would be released from custody in 1995 and Cindy Collier three years prior.
Cindy Collier and Shirley Wolf Other News
Anna Brackett, 85, opened her door on June 14, 1983, and saw two teenage girls. They told her that strange men were following them and they asked to come inside to use the phone.
What happened next was recorded later in the diary of one of them.
“Today Cindy and I ran away and killed an old lady,” Shirley Katherine Wolf, 14, scrawled in a ledger containing her most private thoughts. “It was lots of fun.”
Brackett, a retired seamstress and great-grandmother, had been waiting for a visit from her son, Carl, at around 6 p.m. As he was driving toward his mother’s Auburn, Calif., condo, Carl took passing notice of two teenage girls hitchhiking on the road.
He’d learn later that the hitchhikers — Wolf and her new best friend, Cindy Lee Collier, 15 — had just murdered his mom.
Carl found his mother’s body on the living room floor. Along with at least 28 stab wounds — one 4 inches deep — an autopsy would later show signs that she had been beaten and strangled.
Police scouring the neighborhood discovered that two teens had knocked on other doors in the community that day. Some residents listened to the girls’ tale of woe and made the lifesaving decision to keep the door locked.
One woman let them in and gave them water and access to the phone. But the girls left quickly when the woman’s husband entered the room.
She later told police that her visitors were so creepy that she washed the water glasses and wiped the phone receiver with alcohol as soon as they were out the door.
She may have destroyed some clues, but it was still not hard for police to track down Brackett’s killers. Several neighbors had seen the girls, close up or fleeing the scene, and offered detailed descriptions.
They were locals — Collier from Auburn and Wolf from Placerville, 28 miles away — and witnesses soon matched faces to names.
Less than 12 hours after Brackett’s murder, detectives were knocking on the door of the Auburn home where Collier lived with her mother and brother. The pair were sleeping in the basement when police woke them up for questioning.
Wolf quickly told all.
“We did it. We killed her,” she flatly declared.
She said they were scouring Brackett’s neighborhood for a car in which they could run away. Brackett’s 1970 Dodge caught their eye.
“Saw she was an old lady. Perfect car,” Wolf said. “Just a setup. We figured we’d kill her.”
Brackett let them in, offered them cold drinks, and chatted with them for over an hour before the girls got down to business.
“Then I stabbed and stabbed. I stabbed her in the neck because if she lived, she would know who we are and report us,” Wolf said.
Brackett begged her to stop and said that she was dying.
“And I turned, and I go, ‘Good,’ ” she said.
Both girls appeared to revel in the cold-blooded murder of a kind, helpless old lady.
“We were going out — to celebrate . . . the fact that we killed someone. . . . Just for fun,” Collier said.
They seemed like sisters, or at least old friends, but in reality, they had met just eight hours earlier, kindred spirits who hit it off immediately. They shared a blazing rage, fueled by rotten childhoods, wrote Joan Merriam in “Little Girl Lost.”
Collier was just about a year old when her father skipped out. Before age 7, she said, she’d been beaten and raped by her stepbrother and other men her mother brought home.
By the time she reached high school, she had a record of crimes — including theft and assault — a nasty temper, and a chip on her shoulder. She imagined that everyone had a better life than she did.
“I don’t want them around,” she said. “I want them to pay.”
Born in Brooklyn, Wolf grew up in family marred by alcoholism and violence. Wolf said her father started abusing her before she entered kindergarten.
After her family moved to California in 1978, she said her father raped her. She was 9. The abuse went on for years.
He was eventually arrested, pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor child molestation charge on the day before Christmas 1982, and spent 100 days in jail.
After that, Wolf bounced around from foster homes to a group home, where, on June 14, she met Collier, a runaway from a work program.
In July 1983, Brackett’s baby-faced killers were found guilty of first-degree murder and burglary. It was a nonjury trial, and the judge took 15 minutes to make his decision.
Wolf’s lawyer argued that his client was insane, blinded by a “rage she felt from a lifetime of abuse,” UPI reported.
Three days of listening to psychiatrists convinced the judge that Wolf was a “cold-blooded killer” and sane at the time of the murder. Collier and Wolf received the same sentence: eight years in a juvenile detention facility. Both had time added for bad behavior.
After studying law in prison, Collier was released in 1992. She married, had four children, and has lived quietly ever since.
Released in 1995, Wolf continued to have trouble with the law for a time and then dropped out of sight.
Recently, Merriam told “The Justice Story” that Wolf contacted her, and told her she is living a “quiet, solitary life” in the Midwest and working to help victims of child abuse overcome their demons.
Cindy Collier and Shirley Wolf
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