Jenni-Lyn Watson: Text Messages Trip Up Killer

By Jason Beahm on February 17, 2011 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Steven Pieper learned a valuable lesson about the power of text messages as a form of evidence. Of course, he learned the lesson much too late.

Pieper, 21, pleaded guilty in Syracuse, New York to strangling his girlfriend, Jenni-Lynn Watson, who was breaking up with him at the time. Investigators were able to review Pieper's text messages and call logs, despite never finding his phone, Onondaga County District William Fitzpatrick told CNN. Pieper pleaded guilty to second-degree murder, which means he will likely serve a sentence of 23 years to life.

Second-degree murder is an intentional killing that is not premeditated or planned. This form of murder isn't committed in a reasonable "heat of passion."

"I don't think he went over there with the intent to kill her. He didn't have a long-term plan ... On that particular day he was consumed with evil and he killed that poor little girl for no other reason than she wanted to move on with her life," said Onondaga County District William Fitzpatrick, CNN reports.

Pieper thought he had a clever plan: after he strangled his soon-to-be ex-girlfriend, he dumped Jenni-Lyn Watson's body and then texted a mutual friend of theirs, pretending to be Watson. Her remains were later found at Clay Central Park in North Syracuse. Pieper unintentionally left behind a telling clue, CNN reports. He used the shorthand "GTG" (for "got to go") in the message. It turns out that GTG was frequently used by Pieper, by not by Watson, according to Fitzpatrick.

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