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Crime News Breaking News

South Dakota Teen Killed 16-Year-Old Who Wanted To ‘Run Away And Live With Him’

Shayna Ritthaler had met Michael Gavin Campbell online — but their in-person relationship soon turned deadly.

By Connor Mannion

A South Dakota teenager has admitted to a court he killed a 16-year-old girl who wanted to "run away and live with him in his house." 

Sturgis resident Michael Gavin Campbell, 17, pleaded guilty to first-degree manslaughter of 16-year-old Shayna Ritthaler of Wyoming on Thursday, South Dakota newspaper the Sioux Falls Argus Leader reported. Campbell had made a deal with prosecutors, who dismissed an initial charge of second-degree murder. 

The deal recommends a sentence of 55 years in prison. A sentencing date has not been set, according to the Argus Leader. Campbell also agreed to pay $8,339.54 in restitution, local outlet Newscenter1 reports.

Much about the pair's relationship leading up to Ritthaler's death has not been made public, but details were revealed in court Thursday. The two met on an online dating site and had spent several weeks chatting with one another.

Michael Gavin Campbell Pd

At some point this led to the pair planning to meet and Campbell driving to Wyoming to pick up Ritthaler and take her back to his home. At some point after this, prosecutors say the pair got into an argument which escalated to Campbell grabbing a gun and shooting Ritthaler in the head, killing her. 

Ritthaler was reported missing from Wyoming on October 3, 2019 and was found dead in Campbell's basement on Oct. 7. 

Because of a 2012 U.S. Supreme Court ruling, Campbell, a juvenile, cannot be sentenced to mandatory life in prison despite first-degree manslaughter being punishable with a life sentence in South Dakota. The court decided sentencing a juvenile defendant to mandatory life in prison would be cruel and unusual, The Los Angeles Times reported at the time.