WETUMPKA, Ala. — A convicted child killer who was once the youngest woman to face a death sentence in the U.S., but whose sentence was later commuted, learned Thursday morning that she'll remain behind bars, Chattooga County Sheriff Mark Shrader confirms.
Judith Ann Neelley was convicted in the early 1980s for the kidnapping, torture and murder of Lisa Millican.
Millican was just 13 years old when she was kidnapped from a mall in Rome, Georgia in 1982.
She was sexually assaulted, injected with drain cleaner and eventually shot to death. Her body was dumped in the Little River Canyon in DeKalb County, Alabama.
Neelley, who was just 18 at the time of the crime, and her husband, Alvin, were both convicted in Millican's death, with Alvin pleading guilty.
Neelley at the time said Alvin drugged her and forced her to help kidnap and rape Millican. But her jury didn't believe that defense.
In 1999, just days before she was to be put to death, Governor Fob James commuted Judith Neelley's death sentence to life in prison, which caused an uproar, and created a push to change the laws.
Alvin Neelley died behind bars in 2005.
Neelley has spent her prison sentence at the Julia Tutwiler Prison for Women.
"It was one of the worst cases that several of these people said that they had ever been involved in," says Sheriff Shrader.
Sheriff Shrader tells us over the phone that he was present at Neelley's parole hearing Thursday morning, where her parole was denied, just as it was in 2018.
"She should remain in Alabama prison until she dies. I think that's the sentiment of everybody involved in the case because it was such a a torturous and and horrible case of all the victims," says Shrader.
We spoke with Lisa's family five years ago shortly after her parole was denied the first time in 2018 while they were in the works on passing Lisa's Law.
"You should be allowed to move on with your life. You know, that person shouldn't have to be exploited every single year for the entertainment of strangers. And that's what we're trying to stop."
And they did, Lisa's Law was passed in 2019.
It gives victims and their families the ability to stop the convicted perpetrator from profiting off of the crime through entertainment.
"What happened was gruesome. It was awful. But she's gonna be the voice for millions of other victims."
Shrader says Neelley will be eligible for parole again in 2028.
Depend on us to keep you posted.
Read more: Georgia murder victim's family pushes for Lisa's Law, aimed at giving them more rights