On Friday, February 10, 39-year-old Pennsylvania man Jason Shackelford confessed to s*xually abusing and murdering his ex-girlfriend's 12-year-old daughter.
Trigger warning: This article contains graphic mentions of murder and abuse. Readers' discretion is advised.
According to the New York Post, on Wednesday, February 8, Jason Shackelford allegedly murdered 12-year-old Elaina Smith while her mother was at work. Subsequently, he reportedly stored the body in a freezer. The victim's mother told authorities they were in the middle of a breakup with Jason Shakelford.
After the brutal assault and murder, Shackelford supposedly told the mother that he had kidnapped Elaina Smith and that the child was safe. The mother accused him of proceeding to take her to the Wyndham Lancaster hotel, where he physically abused her twice before she requested hotel staff to call the police.
Jason Shackelford has a history of assaulting women
As per Lancaster Online, Jason Shacelford had a long history of violent crime that had placed him on the radar of Pennsylvania authorities as a convicted predator.
According to court records, in December 2019, he had been placed on a registry for predators after assaulting Elaina Smith's mother. He was reportedly involved in a long and violent relationship with the woman with whom he shared two children.
At the time of Elaina Smith's murder, Shackelford lived with the young girl's mother. Jason Shackelford told police that after she attempted to end the relationship, he assaulted and killed her daughter before consuming alcohol and smoking cigarettes for approximately three hours before putting the 12-year-old's corpse in the freezer.
Lancaster authorities speculated that following the murder, he told the mother that the victim was alive to coerce her into following him.
Authorities said in a statement:
“(The suspect assured) her cooperation with him by using (Elaina’s) well-being as leverage."
Jason Shackelford has been charged with murder as well as multiple abuse-related charges.
A family mourns Elaina Smith
In an interview with news outlets, Smith's aunt, Sheriece Smith, said she does not want her niece to be remembered solely for the disturbing incident.
The victim's aunt said:
“We don’t want people to remember her by the terrible thing that happened to her. We want people to remember her (as) the strong, beautiful, caring, intelligent and just life-filled little girl. She made everyone better for knowing and loving her.”
“I feel like the older she got, you know, I just started to see so much of her personality and spunk and life in her, and it was so nice to see just how much she had really grown into such a beautiful, beautiful young lady."
Sheriece Smith said that Elaina was an intelligent, kind, and mature girl who always loved animals.