VOLUSIA COUNTY, Fla. — A 15-year-old accused of killing his mother and enlisting two of his friends to help hide the body will remain in custody.
- 15-year-old charged with 1st-degree pre-meditated murder
- Teen accused of strangling mother over bad grades
- Two friends who helped cover up crime also charged
All three teens appeared before a judge on Sunday for the first time at the Volusia County Jail.
The teen is charged with first-degree pre-meditated murder and will be held in the Juvenile Detention Center for the next 21 days because he is a minor.
Due to our crime guidelines, we are not identifying him until the State Attorney's office charges him as an adult.
Detectives say the teen strangled his mother, Gail Cleavenger, after a fight over bad grades Thursday night and buried her body beneath a fire pit at River City Church early Friday morning.
The Volusia County Sheriff's Office was originally called out to a reported burglary just before 4 p.m. on Friday. The boy said he came home from school and saw his mom was missing with her van still running in the driveway.
As the investigation continued, detectives say the teen’s story about the alleged robbery began to unravel, and he confessed to strangling his mother.
He later told detectives that he had two of his friends help him stage a burglary scene at his home on Alicante Road.
The two 17-year-old friends are charged with accessory to the crime.
Tension could be felt in the court room between family members and the teens charged in the crime.
"We're still in shock. We can't believe that this is all happening. He's always been a good kids, he's always been respectful," said one of the grandparents of the one of the friends charged in the crime. "This is like something out of a nightmare."
The two 17-year-old teens will be released on house arrested under the condition they remain under 24 hour electronic monitoring.