ALLENTOWN, Pa. (AP) — The homicide case against an eighth-grader and her soldier boyfriend, who are accused of conspiring by text message to have her mother killed, was sent to county court for trial Thursday after a hearing in which prosecutors showed photos of the victim.
A district judge determined there was sufficient evidence against Jamie Silvonek, 14, and Army Spc. Caleb Barnes, 21, for the case to continue. The girl is being tried as an adult.
Prosecutors showed crime-scene photos and a detective spoke of finding the couple in bed inside the victim’s home near Allentown shortly after the mother’s body was found in a shallow grave.
Lehigh County Detective Richard Heffelfinger recalled that the two gave conflicting stories about the circumstances surrounding Cheryl Silvonek’s death.
“I basically told her I don’t believe her,” Heffelfinger testified. “It basically doesn’t make any sense. Her story did not match up with what I was seeing with my eyes.”
Police say Cheryl Silvonek, 54, was found dead with stab wounds to her neck on March 15. Prosecutors have said her daughter urged Barnes to kill her because she wasn’t letting them date.
One of Jamie Silvonek’s friends told the judge that a week before Cheryl Silvonek was found, she had caught Barnes sleeping with the girl and kicked him out of the house.
She testified that she heard her friend plan with Barnes to kill both her parents, saying life insurance proceeds would set them up for life. The girl, who was identified in court only as Witness 1, said she did not alert anyone because she did not think they were serious, and the next day Jamie Silvonek texted her to say it was a joke.
“I never thought she could do something like that,” she testified. “We joke around all the time and we are best friends. I believed her when she said it was a joke.”
Investigators have said they’ve found about 75 texts in which Silvonek appeared to be trying to persuade Barnes to kill her mother, including one that read: “I want her gone.”
Those texts indicate the girl told Barnes she was 17 years old and asked him to deceive her mother about his own age.
Authorities have said the stabbing occurred in the Silvoneks’ driveway, hours after the mother took the couple to a concert in Scranton. Police say Barnes, stationed at Fort Meade in Maryland, confessed, and that Jamie Silvonek said she was there and helped get rid of her mother’s body. Barnes is originally from El Paso, Texas.