MEMPHIS (AP) — A 17-year-old student charged with first-degree murder in the slaying of a Christian school principal told investigators he had planned to stab the woman on the third day of classes, when he knew he'd be alone with her in a classroom, police said Thursday.
Eduardo Marmolejo was charged with killing 49-year-old Suzette York on Wednesday at Memphis Junior Academy, a Seventh-day Adventist school of about 100 students, Memphis police said Thursday.
State law allows police to release the names of juveniles charged with first-degree murder. Online records do not indicate if Marmolejo has a lawyer. Marmolejo had a court hearing scheduled for Thursday afternoon.
The killing shocked current and former students of the school, located next to a church and a cemetery in a residential section of east Memphis. They described York as a caring person who taught science and math before becoming principal in 2008.
York's body was found lying in a pool of blood by a teacher at about 11:20 a.m. Wednesday. Parents were called and students were sent home after the body was discovered.
Police said Marmolejo told investigators that he planned to kill York because he did not like her and that she had made him angry. Marmolejo told authorities he knew that he was going to be alone with York in a classroom, police said.
Marmolejo was one of the oldest students at the school, which has students in pre-kindergarten through high school.
York is survived by her husband, who lived with her in an apartment in suburban Memphis.
About 30 friends and current and former students attended a tear-filled prayer service for York on Wednesday at Mullins United Methodist Church, located next to the school.
Peter Hunter, a former student who also has a cousin currently attending the school, said York tried hard to nurture a family atmosphere at the school.
"She was a person who was very much involved with the students," said Hunter, 25. "She cared deeply about the development of her students."