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Teen Now Charged with Homicide in Stabbing Death

SCRANTON — A teenager in Scranton in now charged with homicide after police say she killed a young woman over the weekend. Cathleen Boyer, 16, stabbed Kay...
cathleen boyer

SCRANTON -- A teenager in Scranton in now charged with homicide after police say she killed a young woman over the weekend.

Cathleen Boyer, 16, stabbed Kayla VanWert, 18, on Sunday during a fight on McKenna Court, according to investigators. VanWert later died at the hospital.

The 16-year-old high school sophomore kept her head down Thursday as she headed into her arraignment to be charged as an adult with criminal homicide.

Cathleen Boyer had just three words for her alleged victim.

"Rest in peace."

The two girls allegedly started fighting on Facebook. VanWert believed her boyfriend was seeing Boyer, so they arranged to meet Sunday night in McKenna Court.

The feuding girls were joined by an audience. According to court papers, five other teen girls watched as Boyer and VanWert punched each other.

Police do not know if both girls brought a weapon to the fight, but witnesses say two knives were brought into the alleyway.

Scranton police say Boyer is part of a scary growing statistic. This homicide is the fourth in the city involving juveniles in the past three years. Statistics by Scranton police show that although violent crime has decreased in the city juvenile violent crime has grown.

"National statistics have it on the slow decline; it's been that way for a number of years."

Dr. David Palmiter is a child psychologist and professor at Marywood University. He says though Scranton's juvenile crime stats do not match national trends, there may be an explanation for increased violence among young people in Scranton.

He believes it could lie in the way the teens in this case talked with each other over social media.

"Folks are in pain. They have some frustration, but they don't have that feedback, that face to face, so they're more unfettered in what they say. Certainly that's the case for humans whose brains are still developing, like teenagers," said Palmiter.

"Our last two homicides involve juveniles," said Scranton Police Chief Carl Graziano. "Violent crime in the city of Scranton is on the decline. Juvenile crime is on the incline."

Police believe Boyer and VanWert were fighting over a boyfriend – Jorge DeJesus – who is the father of VanWert's one-year-old daughter.

Boyer was taken back to the Lackawanna County Prison after her arraignment. She is being kept separate from the rest of the prison population.

There's a viewing for VanWert scheduled for Thursday evening and a public vigil planned for Friday night.