Six Documentary Focuses On Lillelid Murderers

Monday, April 7, 2003

It was six years ago yesterday that six young people kidnapped a Knox County family at an I-81 rest area in Greene County, then shot them a short time later a miles away off the Baileyton Road. Vidar and Delfina Lillelid died at the scene. Their daughter Tabitha died the following day. Only then two year old Peter survived. In February 1998, Natasha Cornett, Karen Howell, Crystal Sturgill, Joe Risner, Dean Mullins and Jason Bryant pleaded guilty to first-degree felony murder and were each sentenced to three consecutive terms of life without parole, plus 25 years.

This Thursday, the documentary "Six," opens the East Tennessee Film Night at the Valleyfest Independent Film Festival. The film, its' director says, examines not the murders but the murderers and the warning signs that led to their horrible acts.

Director Roman Karpynec says the film does not recycle news stories, but instead introduces elements of these children's background - family life, environment, the culture of east Kentucky.

Dr. Helen Smith, a Knoxville forensic psychologist who evaluates violent children and adults, last year contacted Karpynec. Smith says her goal for "Six" was not to shine a pity light on the young murderers, who were fleeing a restrictive small-town environment that had labeled them "freaks" and "witches" but had never offered them acceptance or support. She wanted it to expose the educational, mental-health and law-enforcement entities that ignored a series of red flags. She says she wanted it to show that there is a system that doesn't protect innocent people - innocent people being society, that we as a society have ignored these kinds of kids.

Smith says "to kill innocent people who had nothing to do with what you were angry about is one of the biggest tragedies that somebody can experience, and she thinks that it's important to look at what we can do about that.

"Six" debuts Thursday night at 7 at the Terrace Theater on Mohican Street in Knoxville. For tickets, call 865-577-9941.