Jenna Oakley, the 15-year-old girl who went missing the day her stepmother was found dead, has been indicted as an adult on a charge of murder in connection with the death.
A Boyle County grand jury returned the indictment Thursday. Jenna is also indicted on a charge of theft by unlawful taking of more than $10,000. She’s accused of taking a vehicle owned by her stepmother.
Rhonda Oakley, 52, was found slain Sept. 1 inside her home in Danville. Her 13-year-old stepson found her body when he came home from school.
Each count says Jenna committed the offense “or that another person did so by acting in complicity with the defendant to commit this crime.”
Jenna and her boyfriend, Kenneth Nigh, 21, of Arlington, Ind., were found two days later in a motel parking lot in Tucumcari, N.M. They were in the white Honda Civic reported missing after Rhonda Oakley’s death.
Nigh and Jenna were found after Kentucky State Police contacted authorities in Quay County, N.M., and told them that Jenna Oakley’s cellphone indicated that she was at a truck stop near Tucumcari, according to court documents. Police found Jenna and Nigh in the parking lot of a Motel 6.
The New Mexico court documents referred to Jenna as a “primary suspect” in the killing.
Nigh, who was charged with one count of contributing to the delinquency of a minor, allegedly attempted suicide in jail in New Mexico, according to police. On Sept. 13, Nigh was taken to a local hospital then transferred to Northwest Texas Hospital in Amarillo, Texas, with serious self-inflicted injuries.
According to WDRB News in Louisville, Nigh has died. Quay County officials could not confirm Nigh’s death but the hospital said he is no longer listed as a patient.
Richie Bottoms, commonwealth’s attorney for Boyle County, said Friday afternoon that Nigh was on life-support and had not been charged in Kentucky. Bottoms said Friday evening he could not confirm Nigh’s death.
Under Kentucky law, juveniles 14 or older may be tried as adults if charged with a violent felony, such as murder, assault, rape or robbery. Juveniles are tried in adult court if they used or flashed a deadly weapon while committing a felony. Juvenile courts often mean far shorter sentences for defendants.
Jenna will not face the death penalty if convicted. In a 2005 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the execution of people who were under 18 at the time of their crimes violates the federal constitutional guarantee against cruel and unusual punishments.
Phillip Oakley, who would have celebrated his third anniversary with Rhonda in December, said last month that he hates his teenage daughter.
“I can tell you I hate my daughter,” Phillip Oakley said. “I do not care about my daughter. I’m worried about the people that I need to protect, and that’s not one of them.”
Rhonda Oakley had worked at RR Donnelley printing plant in Danville for 30 years.
Kentucky State Police Detective Monte Owens was the witness who testified before the grand jury, according to the court record. An arraignment date has not been scheduled for Jenna.