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The scenery was stunning and the remote spot was so peaceful, you could walk for hours through the state park without seeing another soul. Loren Bunner and Jolee Callan had picked a beautiful day to take a hike through the heavily wooded Pinhoti Trail area of Mount Cheaha, Alabama, in August 2015.

Before they’d headed off, Loren, then 20, posted a picture of Jolee on his Instagram account – the first of four photos that day. The snap showed Jolee, 18, sitting in the front of Loren’s car with his dog. The caption read, ‘On our way to go hiking.’

The pair were seemingly relaxed together, despite the troubles between them over the previous
weeks. Jolee and Loren had once been a couple, but now they were trying to find a way to move on
as friends.

Jolee was only 4ft 10in, but her big heart made her stand out from the crowd. Although she was quiet, she loved performing in school plays, studied hard and was popular.

A year earlier, she’d started dating Loren. He was quiet too, but 12 months on he had a strong hold on Jolee. Loren preferred her to hang out with his friends, or sit with him while he played video games, and Jolee found herself trying to please him.

A few times, Jolee had tried to end the relationship, but Loren would emotionally blackmail her into taking him back, threatening to end his life if she didn’t. Jolee found it easier to give in, but now she’d graduated from high school and was making plans for college, she’d finally plucked up the courage to finish things for good. While she moved on, Loren continued to call her, begging her to take him back.

During the hike, on 30th August, Loren updated his Instagram three more times. The last two photos were of Jolee standing on the edge of a cliff at the state park. Loren had written, ‘Oh, ya know. Just enjoying the view.’

At around 6pm that evening, Loren called 911 just off the local interstate and asked to speak to the police.

"I want to turn myself in for the murder of my ex-girlfriend Jolee Callan that happened just a little while ago on Cheaha Mountain," he said, calmly.

Shortly afterwards, Jolee’s body was found at the bottom of a 40ft cliff on the Pinhoti Trail. She had been shot twice – once in the back of the head and once between the eyes. She was still wearing her backpack. Police recovered a Bear Claw .22 gun from Loren and found a large amount of blood in the area at the top of the cliff where the shooting took place. There was also blood on Loren’s steering wheel.

When questioned, Loren stunned investigators with his explanation. He told police that he’d shot Jolee in the head as part of a suicide pact, before throwing her off a cliff. When it was his turn to kill himself, he couldn’t go through with it.

"She didn’t want to see it coming," Loren said, which is why he’d shot her from behind. But it didn’t explain why he’d then turned her over and shot the young girl between the eyes.

Police believed that Loren had simply lured Jolee to the remote area with the intent of killing her because he wasn’t able to convince her to take him back. Jolee showed absolutely no signs of being depressed. She was making plans for the future and there was no note for her friends and family – it was completely out of character.

Loren was charged with her murder and released on bail. At first, a court ruled that Loren would be tried as a youthful offender. It meant that the maximum sentence he could be given was three years in prison. Jolee’s family were outraged. They were relieved when the decision was overturned and it was decided he’d be tried as an adult.

After initially pleading not guilty, in July this year Loren pleaded guilty to Jolee’s murder.

Loren’s 911 call was played to the court where he calmly confessed to killing Jolee. Prosecutors reminded the court that he’d convinced Jolee to take a hike with him and had brought along a weapon. The Instagram photos that documented Jolee’s last hours were heartbreaking and showed a lack of remorse from her killer.

Loren, now 22, was sentenced to 52 years in prison and told to pay over £7,000 in restitution to the Alabama Crime Victims Commission. Afterwards, Jolee’s broken father, Michael, who had a stroke after his daughter was killed, spoke of his relief at the sentence.






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