Original article no longer available.
By ERIN JULIUS, firstname.lastname@example.org
June 1, 2009
HAGERSTOWN Journal writings and school records of the 15-year-old girl accused of asking a friend to kill her father appear to reveal a troubled teenager who wrote poetry, sometimes about her father, often seemed depressed and wondered whether she could go on living.
Danielle Black is charged with solicitation of first-degree murder in the death of her father. A Washington County Circuit Court judge ruled last week that she will stand trial in adult court.
Court records containing her writings were made available shortly after Thursday’s decision that her case would go forward in the adult criminal system.
The body of her father, Billy Lee Black, 47, was found the morning of Oct. 31, 2008, in a pool of blood behind a house at 210 James St. in Hagerstown’s West End.
Alec Scott Eger, 20, of 15 Berner Ave., is charged with first-degree murder and felony murder in Black’s death. Eger is not the person prosecutors allege Black asked to kill her father.
In what appears to be a poem dated Sept. 15, 2008, and included in court documents, Black wrote:
That’s the problem
people just don’t care
I want my dad to
but I can’t make him care.
I feel like nothing
I feel like there’s no reason to live
Why doesn’t dad love me?
Why doesn’t he want me to live?
I can’t take much more
All I want is some love and a kiss
I just want my dad back
My dad I really do miss.
Another poem contained in the files, says in part:
This mask I wear,
she serves me well
She hides my pain
So they can’t tell
They see her smile
Never my tears
She shows no sorrow
She fights all my fears
That poem ends this way:
My scars she hides,
behind laughter and lies
She says she is fine
but slowly she dies.
The writings were discussed by attorneys and admitted into evidence during last week’s hearing about whether Black should be tried as a juvenile or an adult.
She also wrote:
You don’t know me or any of my moves
I’m not gonna be dead
Your [sic] the one who’s gonna lose
Well I do weed and I do meds
I never listened to anything you said
Your [sic] finally gonna get everything you deserve
I couldn’t take it any more [sic]
you get on my nerves
Your time is now up
I promise it won’t hurt much
I’ll have a smile on my face especially at lunch.
In what appears to be a later writing, the author writes, in part:
I can call off my people
so you don’t have to die
just understand if you do it again
you won’t have a life to live
your days would be numbered
your ass would be gone
but you apologized for everything
you ever did wrong
your being so cool
your being the father I never had
That’s all I ever wanted from you
I only wanted a dad.
In other writings, the author threatens an unknown person, “I’ll use my magic to hurt you” and claims to be a Wiccan. Shortly after the Wiccan reference, she writes, “I’m not afraid to go to jail.”
Not all of the writings are threatening. One seems to be a conversation between Danielle and an unknown person. In it, she describes sexual activity.
Many of the poems are dark.
In a writing dated Jan. 3, 2008, the writer talks about “pain running through my veins” and describes her world as dividing.
In a poem dated Jan. 4, 2008, the writer keeps apologizing to an unknown person and writes about her heart breaking. It’s unclear for what she is apologizing.
I love you to [sic] much to lose you
If you left me I wouldn’t know what to do
I would probably try to kill myself.
Black might have tried to commit suicide on Feb. 19, 2008, according to a psychosocial evaluation of her prepared by Beate Zipperle, a licensed clinical social worker employed by the Office of the Public Defender.
While in school, Black took 20 60-milligram Cymbalta tablets and 20 20-milligram Phenergan pills. She was discharged from the University of Maryland Medical Center in Baltimore on Feb. 20, 2008, with a recommendation that she receive outpatient counseling, court records show.
According to Zipperle’s report, at one point when Danielle was in the home, Billy Black threatened to kill himself with a loaded gun.
While at a juvenile detention center in Rockville, Md., Danielle Black was diagnosed with adjustment disorder, the report show.
She also underwent clinical therapy sessions while at the center. The sessions focused on helping her develop coping skills and strategies to cope with anxiety and depressive symptoms and grief related to the loss of her father, according to the report.
The Herald-Mail also obtained victim-impact statements written by Billy Black’s widow, Andrea Black, and other family members.
Andrea Black wrote, “My life is like a nightmare that never ends.”
She lives with her daughter and son-in-law, and wrote that she is afraid to go outside because she fears “they would do the same to me that they did to Billy.”
She describes a happy relationship with Billy Black, whom she met about five years before his death. They were married for one year and four months, she wrote.
“We had a love in five years that most people never find in a lifetime. He was kind, caring and loving, he loved his family and wanted the best for them,” she wrote.
She describes Billy as being by her side while she battled an illness.
“We had so many plans together and now I have to go on without him,” she wrote. “I love and miss him but I thank God for the time he gave me with Billy. And it upsets me when I think about the horrible way he died. He was a wonderful man, and he did not deserve to die that way.”
Billy Black’s brother, Wesley Black, and his wife, Heidi Black, also submitted victim-impact statements.
They wrote that the death of Billy Black “has been extremely hard for us to handle.”
On the day before he died, Billy Black called his sister-in-law, who works for Washington County Public Schools, asking her to help get help for Danielle Black, according to their statement.
“That’s the last time I talked to Billy … begging for help for Danielle.”
Washington County Circuit Judge W. Kennedy Boone said that Danielle Black’s case would stay in adult court. He said it was a close call.
The 15-year-old faces one count of solicitation of first-degree murder stemming from the fatal Halloween stabbing of her father, 47-year-old Billy Lee Black.
Prosecutors say Danielle asked a friend on a school bus to kill her father because he was physically abusing her. She contends she only wanted her father roughed up, not killed.
Danielle’s lawyer said she will enter a plea of not guilty.
Not shy about it
Danielle, a smart but troubled sophomore at South Hagerstown High School, told her peers she wanted her father hurt, maybe even dead.
So when Black was fatally stabbed in the alley behind their rented duplex, it didn’t take police long to question the girl.
The boy Danielle first approached on the bus refused to get involved, police said, so she told him she would ask other friends, including one named Alec.
Alec Eger, police said, was a 20-year-old newcomer to Hagerstown whose dark charisma had impressed a crew of kids in the gritty West End of the city of 40,000, about 70 miles from Baltimore.
At 6-foot-5, with his dark leather coat, hooded hazel eyes and shoulder-length hair, Eger cut an imposing figure. When he was stabbed in the arm, reputedly defending a girl against two would-be attackers — a story investigators couldn’t substantiate — he also gained a reputation as a protector.
‘Rough him up’
Police say Eger killed Black two days after the conversation on the bus. Police say he confessed to stabbing Black after going to confront him about abusing Danielle, though investigators found no evidence of such mistreatment by the father. Eger claims a fight ensued when Black grabbed a knife from his belt.
Eger has pleaded not criminally responsible, an insanity defense, to a charge of first-degree murder. His lawyer, Jerome Joyce, declined to comment.
Prosecutors have no proof that Danielle asked Eger to kill her father. The solicitation charge stems from her conversation with the first boy on the bus; she claims she asked him to “take care of” her dad, not kill him.
Police Detective Christopher Kayser said Danielle told police she had complained to friends, including Eger, hoping they would confront her father and maybe “rough him up.”
But shortly after seeking Eger’s help, she said, she told him her relationship with her father had improved.
In court, Danielle’s lawyer portrayed her as a depressed, angry and possibly abused child whose untreated anguish led to a suicide attempt, violent fantasies and self-mutilation.
Black’s widow, Andrea, denied the abuse allegations against the father.
“I lived there, and there was none,” she said.
At a court hearing Tuesday, Andrea Black said she and Danielle had a good relationship but “for some reason, her and her dad didn’t get along.”
‘Something is awry’
Beate Zipperle, a licensed clinical state social worker who testified on Danielle’s behalf, said Danielle’s parents divorced when she was about 2 and she was raised by her father, a 47-year-old tree-maintenance worker. Relatives told Zipperle that Black had quit drinking several years ago after threatening to shoot himself in front of Danielle and her older brother. Black remarried in mid-2007.
Early on, Danielle earned As and Bs, played trumpet, volunteered at an animal shelter and dreamed of becoming a veterinarian.
But difficulties at home led to several months of counseling for symptoms of depression and anxiety when Danielle was 12, Zipperle said. At 13, she began cutting herself, indicating that “something is awry, something is seriously awry with this child.” At 14, she ran away and overdosed on prescription drugs.
The social worker said Danielle had fallen in with “a negative peer group.”
Photos on a digital memory card found hidden in her bedroom included some of Danielle, her honey-blond hair dyed black, smoking, clowning with two guys hoisting liquor bottles and spelling out the word ‘blood’ with her fingers — an apparent reference to the Bloods street gang.
‘She told the whole school’
References to blood, cutting and stabbing appear often in two dozen poems and letters collected by police.
A teenage acquaintance speaking on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals told The Associated Press that Danielle spoke loudly and often of her death wish for her father.
“She always went around saying she got abused and wanted her father dead. She told the whole school that,” the boy said.
In Danielle’s journal, investigators found a poem apparently addressed to her father with the passage, “if you do it again; you won’t have a life to live.” Another poem included the lines, “Your time is now up; I promise it won’t hurt much; I’ll have a smile on my face.”‘