The Christmas Killings

What could you do in 60 hours? You would work a week and a half. You could binge watch the entire series of Harry Potter, Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, and The Hobbit. Or if you were part of the gang in Dayton, OH in 1992, you could participate in a killing spree and devastate the families of the 8 victims.

  • The victims:
    • Joseph Wilkerson – 34
    • Danita Gullette – 18
    • Jeffrey Wright – 29 – wounded, did not die
    • Richmond Maddox – 19
    • Sarah Abraham – 38
    • Jones Pettis – 67 – wounded, did not die (In the grocery store, another customer Edward Thompson – 71 faked being shot)
    • Wendy Cotrill – 16
    • Marvin Washington – 18
  • The “Downton Posse”:
    • Marvallous Matthew Keene – 22
    • Heather Nicole Matthews – 20
    • Laura Jeanne Taylor – 16
    • DeMarcus Maurice Smith – 17

Here is the chronology of the crimes:

December 24, 1992 –

Early in the morning of Christmas Eve, Joseph Wilkerson, invited Marvallous, Heather, and Laura into his home, in anticipation of an orgy. Before the party could start, Marvallous produced a gun while the two girls tied him to a bed. Marvallous would later admit that he shot Joseph in the chest with his own gun. Laura then shot him in the head, with Marvallous’s gun. Joseph’s house became their base of operations, they would sleep there and use his car for the remaining crimes.

Later Christmas Eve, around 10pm, 18-year-old, Danita Gullette was on a pay phone, she was shot seven times and one bullet was fatal. She would later die at the hospital. The only reason Danita was shot was for her Fila shoes. DeMarcus Smith wanted her shoes, and he and Marvallous both shot her.

December 25, 1992 –

At approximately 12.30am, Jeffrey Wright was Heather’s ex-boyfriend and he had been shot four times. According to Heather, Jeffrey was shot by DeMarcus, who was her new boyfriend. Since he didn’t die from being shot, Heather and DeMarcus talked about finishing him off at the hospital.

In the evening on Christmas Day, Richmond Maddox, the ex-boyfriend of Laura Taylor was shot in the head in his car. He died at the hospital and Laura stated she used the gun of the first victim to shoot Richmond.

December 26, 1992 –

The early shift at a Short Stop Mini Market, Sarah Abraham was working. There were a couple customers in the store; Jones Pettus and Edward Thompson. Sarah was shot in the face and would die later after she lingered in a coma. Jones was shot in the stomach, but he would survive his wounds. Edward faked being shot and survived. Marvallous and DeMarcus were the shooters, and they robbed the store of $44.

Later that day, the four murderers were discussing who of their friends they needed to kill to prevent them from telling. It was decided that Laura’s friends Wendy Cottrill and Marvin Washington would be the targets. The group picked up Wendy and Marvin and brought along beer and wine. Driving into a field, Marvallous and DeMarcus drew their guns and forced the two out of the car. Wendy and Marvin were shot behind a pile of dirt, Wendy was shot twice,

They picked up the pair and bought some beer and wine. Mathews said Keene then announced he had to urinate and drove into a field at 1654 Richie Drive. After the car had stopped, Keene and Smith drew their guns and forced Washington and Cottrill out of the car. The two were marched at gunpoint away from the car and behind a pile of dirt. There they were shot.

The group had then stolen a woman’s black Dodge Shadow from a gas station and had put the plates from Joseph’s car on it. Their 60 hours was up at 1:40pm, the Dayton police spotted a black Dodge Shadow and arrested the four people in the car. They confiscated several weapons. The license plate was registered to Joseph Wilkerson. When they went to his home and found his dead body.

The Trial and Convictions:

Marvallous Keene – 10-28-1993 Marvallous is sentenced to death. Executed by lethal injection on 07-21-2009.

Laura Taylor – 01-26-1994 Laura is sentenced to two consecutive life terms.

Heather Mathews – 11-4-1994 Heather is sentenced to two consecutive prison terms. She had a plea agreement to save her from execution. She will never be paroled.

DeMarcus Smith – 02-15-1994 – DeMarcus accepted a plea agreement and was sentenced to four consecutive life terms.

Instead of going on a spree killing, these four people could have done anything else with these 60 hours instead of ending the lives of 6 innocent people, and disrupting the lives of their family, friends, those who survived for the rest of their lives.

Be strong, make good choices, stay safe

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