The youngster was found by his father, bound and gagged in their family home, and all because of an extensive sneaker collection.
Authorities believe that the three were motivated to kill solely because of Sampleton's shoe game. After the murder they robbed him for his collection, including the shoes on his feet.
Sampleton, who attended Grayson High School, collected and traded sneakers. “They were aware that he had nice things,” noted Cpl. Jake Smith of the Gwinnett County Police Department. “They were aware that he traded in these high-end sneakers.”
Police are looking into additional cohorts, but have charged 15-year-old Larnell Sillah with felony murder, as well as 15-year-old Achiel Morgan, and 18-year-old Romaine Stewart, both of whom are believed to have plotted the crime.
Sillah and Sampleton went to school together and were acquaintances, rather than friends.
On the day of the shooting, witnesses saw a silver BMW in the neighborhood, prompting police to serve a search warrant to a residence not far from where Sampleton lived. “Essentially we had a witness in the neighborhood where the homicide happened who saw the vehicle,” Smith explained.
Sampleton's mother, Stephanie Stone, said the arrests will give her some form of peace. “I just felt a sense of relief, a sense of euphoria,” she said of the news. “It was just like a smile had been planted on my face, I am so glad that we're on the road for closure.”
Given the motive for killing her son, Stone offered empathy for all involved. “It is sad that you got three young black men that are going to spend the rest of their lives behind bars, or whatever may come for them, over material things,” she said, before sharing words for the parents of Sillah, Morgan, and Stewart. “I'm not going to say that I feel bad for those parents. I'm not, because I feel bad for me. These parents are the ones raising these types of children. They're raising them.”
The two suspects under the age of 18 have been charged as adults.