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Woman Obsessed With Horror Movies Who Decapitated Her Mother Not Found Guilty Of Murder

An Australian jury opted to convict 27-year-old Jessica Camilleri on a lesser charge of manslaughter in the death of her mother Rita after determining that multiple mental health issues had played a role in the grisly slaying.

By Jill Sederstrom
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An Australia woman obsessed with horror movies who decapitated her mother—cutting out her eyeballs, tongue and nose—has been found not guilty of murder.

The jury opted instead to convict 27-year-old Jessica Camilleri of the lesser offense of manslaughter, due to her multiple mental health conditions, according to The Victor Harbor Times.

Camilleri killed her mother, Rita Camilleri, at the family’s Sydney home on July 20, 2019 in a shocking act of violence that mimicked the horror movies she had grown to love.

The then-25-year-old reportedly stabbed her 57-year-old mother more than 100 times in the neck and head with knives from the kitchen before decapitating her, The Sydney Morning News reports.

After the slaying, Jessica cut out her mother’s eyeballs, tongue and nose and then carried the severed head to a neighbor’s home “for evidence,” but then left it outside on a footpath after it slipped from her hands and fell to the ground.

Rita Camilleri Ig

Jessica suffers from autism spectrum disorder and an intellectual disability. Her attorneys had argued that the conditions impaired her ability to control herself after she’d flown into a rage during an argument with her mother.

Jessica had initially told police she killed her mother in “self-defense” but later told forensic psychiatrist David Greenberg that she had attacked her mother and dragged her down the hall by her hair to the kitchen, where she grabbed a knife.

“I remember stabbing my mum. I wouldn’t stop,” she told Greenberg, according to the paper. “I injured myself. I was getting her everywhere.”

Jessica allegedly she flew into a rage and “saw red” after her mother, who served as her sole caregiver, had threatened to call emergency services to get her mental health help, according to The Victor Harbor Times.

Jessica told the psychiatrist she had been inspired to carry out the gruesome dismemberment by the horror movies she regularly watched—including “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” and “Jeepers Creepers.”

Jessica’s sister Kristy Torrisi testified during the seven-day trial that her sister liked to “pause and rewind” the movies during killing or dismemberment scenes in the films and often went into “a frenzy” if the movies were taken away from her, The Sydney Morning News reports.

Greenberg, who had been called to testify by the prosecution, told jurors that Jessica regularly had “rage attacks” that he believed were caused by intermittent explosive disorder, along with her other mental health conditions, Australia’s ABC News reports.

However, defense psychiatrist Dr. Richard Furst disagreed that the rage attacks were caused by intermittent explosive disorder and compared them to “kids having tantrums” instead.

He added that the horror movies had given Jessica, who had stopped taking her medications six months before the gruesome slaying, a “warped perception” of reality.

Nathan Steel, Jessica’s defense attorney, told the jury that she “lacked a capacity to control herself due to the underlying abnormality of the mind”  and had a “complete and utter loss of control” after being triggered in the attack, according to The Sydney Morning News.

In addition to the grisly slaying, Jessica also had a history of calling strangers in “prank” phone calls, threatening to decapitate the person who answered the call.

The jury reached the verdict after deliberating for just over two days.

Judge Helen Wilson thanked those who served on the jury, calling it a “difficult” trial.

“The subject matter you have been asked to consider has been extremely confronting,” she said, according to ABC News, adding that many people during the jury selection process had said they wouldn’t be able to sit through the trial.

Jessica is scheduled to be sentenced on Feb. 17.