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MOM DETERMINED TO KEEP MURDERERS BEHIND BARS PAROLE HEARING SET IN 1985 SLAYING.

Byline: Dana Bartholomew Staff Writer

They had dressed the same Barbies, swung on the same swings, lived on the same block. They would later rock to the same bands, tease the same hairstyles and flirt with the same boys.

And when 17-year-old Michele ``Missy'' Avila was found drowned in a shallow mountain creek in 1985, Laura Doyle sent her best friend's mom a consoling message.

``I'm sorry she's gone, but she's not really gone,'' her card, accompanied by a $20 bill, read. ``She's right here with all of us. Irene, you were Missy's mom and you were mine.''

Today, California prison officials will consider whether to parole Doyle - sentenced to 15 years to life in 1990 for the second-degree murder of her childhood friend.

And Irene Avila will do everything in her power to prevent Doyle's release.

``She's sentenced me to a life of hell, and she's only behind bars now,'' Avila, 61, of Burbank said before her parole-hearing testimony today. ``If she gets out, I'll come apart.

``What right does she have for freedom? She's nothing but a monster, a demon - she's inhuman.''

How Doyle, then 18, and Karen Severson, then 17, shoved their sobbing friend into an Angeles National Forest canyon and killed her - because she ostensibly had sex with their boyfriends - became grist for national TV talk shows, a TV movie and a book.

Doyle was thin, with red hair and crooked teeth, and had a penchant for drugs, according to prosecutors. Severson stood 5 feet, 2 inches tall, weighed 200 pounds, and was envious of her best friend's effervescent charm.

Missy, a popular student at San Fernando Mission continuation high school, grew up near Woodman Avenue with three brothers in the same quiet neighborhood of Arleta.

She ``headbanged'' to the Scorpions and Motley Crue. She made great lasagna, according to her mother, and dreamed of becoming a physical therapist. And she was fiercely loyal to her childhood friends.

On Oct. 4, 1985, three days after the slaying, hikers found Missy lying face-down in ankle-deep water in Colby Canyon, a teen party campground 45 minutes from Arleta known as Wicky Up.

Her pretty face was battered. Her waist-length hair was shorn. And on her neck, anchoring her 98-pound frame, was a 4-foot 100-pound log.

Three hours after the killing, Doyle called Missy's mom to ask whether her daughter was home. In the months that followed, Severson and her 2-year-old daughter moved into the Avila family's Arleta home in order ``to help find the murderer.''

It would take a teen-age witness three years to come forward to recall how she saw Doyle and Severson lead Missy into the woods - and return without their friend.

``You're going to pay for what you've done,'' Doyle had shouted at Missy before her final march. ``You're going to pay for sleeping with our boyfriends.''

Today, a three-member commission from the state Board of Prison Terms will consider Doyle's conduct in prison, her efforts at rehabilitation and her future plans before deciding on her possible parole.

Doyle, 34, will be permitted to address the board, as will the prosecutor and members of Avila's family, at Valley State Prison for Women in Chowchilla, about 30 miles north of Fresno.

``I believe we are opposed to her release,'' said David Dahle, acting head of the Lifer Hearings Division for the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office, which sent a deputy attorney to the hearing.

``In the vast majority of our cases, we find that the inmates still pose an unreasonable risk to society.''

A Board of Prison spokeswoman declined to comment on Doyle's possible release. But a prison spokesman doubted she'd go free.

``It's not likely she'll get paroled,'' said Pat Callahan of Valley State Prison. ``It'll likely be after 2005, the full 15 years.''

Doyle's first hearing occurred in 1998, when she was given four more years. Severson, 34, now at the California Institution for Women in Corona, will be up for her third parole hearing in October 2003.

Doyle's trial attorney, Charles Lloyd, could not be reached for comment. Her appellate attorney, Joseph Farnan - who had once contended that the jury should have been given the option of finding his client guilty of involuntary manslaughter, allowing that Doyle and Severson may have intended to hurt or scare Missy, but ``it got out of hand and she died as a result'' - declined to comment.

After Missy was slain, her mother lashed out at anyone she thought might have killed her daughter, stopping cars in the street and shoving a biker through a storefront window. She even attacked a roomful of cocaine dealers looking for a suspect.

``She was a good girl, my only daughter. She was everything to me. We were very close,'' Irene Avila said. ``They didn't just take away my daughter, they took away my heart.''

For years, she said, she was unable to go to the mall, lest seeing mothers and daughters remind her of her loss. For the past six years, she's moved from place to place, unable to settle down.

``If I hear the phone ring, sometimes I still think it may be my daughter,'' said Avila, her voice breaking. ``I don't want anybody to forget my daughter; I don't want anyone to forget the hate I feel for Laura.

``My daughter, she never got to graduate, go to the prom, get married, have children, smile and laugh again.''

CAPTION(S):

4 photos

Photo:

(1 -- color) Irene Avila of Burbank will testify today in the parole hearing of Laura Doyle, who killed Avila's daughter, Michele, in 1985.

Evan Yee/Staff Photographer

(2 -- 4) LAURA DOYLE

KAREN SEVERSON

`MISSY' AVILA

Laura Doyle and Karen Severso were sentenced to prison for the 1985 murder of Michele ``Missy'' Avila.
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Apr 24, 2002
Words:957
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