Sample Criminal Justice Term paper on Murder of Lil Miss

Murder of Lil Miss


            The Murder of Lil Miss refers to the title given to a murder case of a young woman, Lisa Marie Kimmell, which took place on second day of April in 1988. The young woman vanished while travelling from Colorado to her home area in Billings, Montana. The predicament attributing to her death remained a cold case for a long period of time until a DNA report that was recovered fourteen years later linked an inmate to the woman’s abduction, rape as well as murder. The new discovery saw investigators redirecting their efforts to the most critical piece of evidence in the case, which included Kimmell’s missing vehicle. The vehicle had a unique custom-made license plate that bore the new title for the case, “Lil Miss” (Kimmell, 2006).

Case summary and analysis of the criminal justice system

            Kimmell, who worked at an Arby in Denver, left her place of work on 25th  March in 1988 and headed for her home area in the city of Billings in Montana. She hoped to stop along the way in the city of Cody in Wyoming to pick up her lover so they could travel together. That not being the case, traffic patrol records taken along the Wyoming highway showed that Kimmell had been stopped at Douglas for over speeding (Kimmell, 2006). Kimmell then reportedly disappeared although some eyewitnesses gave unverifiable information that they had seen her near Casper later in the evening. Her body was then recovered floating in the North Platte River by a local fisherman, which lies near Casper in Wyoming. An autopsy that was later carried out showed that Kimmell had been tied up, beaten as well as raped for about six days. Reliable evidence further showed that the victim was then taken to an Old Bridge where she was struck on the head using a blunt object, stubbed with a knife in the chest and stomach and then damped into the river (Kimmell, 2006). Results from the autopsy indicated that the injuries on the head would have killed her after a short while even without being stubbed. The case was side shown on a TV program after a few weeks along with other cases labeled “unsolved mysteries” as well as other cases labeled “Cold Case files”. Each of the cases aired on TV aimed at locating witnesses that may have seen her missing vehicle, Honda CR-X, with a unique custom-made plate bearing the name, LIL MISS. The effort to recover the vehicle was extremely important, as the investigators believed that it would be a direct link to the murderer (Kimmell, 2006).

After the events relating to Kimmell’s murder remained a cold case for fourteen years, investigators involved in the case recovered a kit relating to her rape incidence. A DNA profile was then created from the seminal evidence gathered and the CODIS record matched the DNA information belonging to Dale Eaton, a fifty-seven years old convict that was serving a jail sentence in Englewood prison on weapon-related charges (Kimmell, 2006). The culprit’s DNA profile had been developed in 1997 after being arrested on distinct charges, which included kidnapping the Breeden family that he had pretended to offer assistance when their vehicle broke down. After being sentenced for this kidnapping, the culprit escaped but was recaptured in a national forest and was in possession of a weapon. This elevated his offense to the federal level and was locked up in the federal prison where he was compelled to give a DNA sample (Kimmell, 2006).

            As pertains to Kimmell’s murder, Eaton’s neighbors had informed investigators that they had seen the culprit construct a huge hole on his piece of land. The site was exhumed and Kimmell’s vehicle recovered. This caused Easton to be charged with eight offences linked to Kimmell’s case, including deliberate murder, motivated kidnapping, motivated robbery, as well as first and second-degree sexual assault. A fellow convict testified that Eaton, who had requested for a ride in Kimmell’s car, started making sexual advances but was annoyed when she turned him down and forced him out of the car (Kimmell, 2006). Having been found guilty of all the eight charges, Eaton received a death sentence in 2004. He petitioned the sentence, lost, and was scheduled to be executed in 2010. He however requested for a delay in the execution, which he received in 2009 but was later overturned in 2014. As such, the State is currently seeking for the execution of the death penalty while Eaton stands as the only culprit that is awaiting a sentence hearing on Wyoming’s death list. In meantime, Eaton’s property was given to the victim’s family to make up for the culprit’s wrong doing while constructions on the property were burned down (Kimmell, 2006).

            A keen analysis of the story relating to Kimmell’s murder shows that the criminal justice system is insensitive concerning instilling justice for the primary victims as well as protecting the secondary and the third degree victims. The story shows that investigations trolled for a long time without an arrest despite the fact that the case attracted great attention from around the continent. It was not until the media featured the case in the public domain that reliable evidence relating to Kimmell’s rape incidence was discovered. This shows that the criminal justice system did not commit enough effort in recovering evidence that would promote justice for the primary victim (Falk, 2010). Similarly, spending a very long time without arresting the culprit shows that the criminal justice system was not making sufficient efforts to protect the secondary victims, who in this case included Kimmell’s family, from any possible attacks by the culprit. This is because the family, after failing to get any form of justice from the legal system sought assistance from the media, which exposed them to greater danger. It is evident that the criminal justice system did not give much importance to the primary victim’s experience despite the fact that she was brutally sodomized, robbed and even murdered. This is because the justice system still considered taking more time before executing the death sentence on the culprit despite the fact that it had sufficient evidence that the said culprit was responsible for the crime (Falk, 2010). For instance, bloodstains collected on the culprit’s door matched that collected on the victim’s body, the victim’s missing vehicle was exhumed from the culprit’s compound and the seminal evidence collected from the victim’s body matched the culprit’s DNA. Investigators however did not consider this as sufficient evidence, and hence, they considered taking more time on the investigations. Similarly, the criminal justice system did offer to protect Eaton’s family, which offered to work along with the victim’s family in pursuit for justice. This showed that the justice system is not considerate of the third degree victims and hence they expose them to possible danger associated with their willful involvement with such cases (Falk, 2010).

            Experiences gathered from the story are in contrary to my ideas about the criminal justice system. This is because I believe that the criminal justice system is only interested in instilling justice to victims and is therefore interested in utilizing the slightest evidence to accomplish this goal (Falk, 2010). This is however not the case as shown in the story as the justice system is still reluctant to instill justice even though sufficient evidence is available. I also believe that the justice system is responsible for the prevention of further victimization by putting the culprit behind bars as soon as any form of evidence that implicates them is available. This however is not the case as portrayed in the story, as the justice system is still reluctant to offer justice even when sufficient evidence is available (Falk, 2010).


            Sufficient evidence shows that Eaton was responsible for the murder of LIL MISS but the criminal justice system seems reluctant to execute him. This is a clear indication that the justice system is not committed to instill justice for the primary victims as well as protect the secondary and third degree victims. This is in contrary to what we expect of the justice system to protect victims at all levels and be in front line to instill justice and execute victims.


Falk, G. (2010). The American Criminal Justice System: How it Works, How it Doesn’t and How to Fix it, Westport CT: Praeger.

Kimmell, S. (2006). The Murder of Lil Miss. USA: Eagle Crest Publications.