Jenni-Lyn Watson's parents characterized her murderer, Stephen M. Pieper, as a greedy, self-centered young man who ingratiated himself into their family with lies and false promises.
"He lied about the ring he gave her," said Jenni-Lyn's father, David Watson. "He lied twice about having cancer. He lied about having a concussion...He lied about why he got fired from Wal-Mart...He lied about everything. He can't be trusted."
Jenni-Lyn Watson, a 20-year-old dance student at Mercyhurst College in Erie, Pa., was strangled to death Nov. 19 while spending Thanksgiving break at her parents' home in Clay. Pieper, her former boyfriend, admitted he killed her and then drove her body to Clay Park Central where it lay hidden for eight days before being discovered by searchers from the Onondaga County Sheriff's Office.
On March 8, Watson's parents and younger sister spoke at a hearing at the Onondaga County Criminal Courthouse in downtown Syracuse prior to Pieper's sentencing by Judge Anthony Aloi.
Directly addressing Pieper, who stood shackled 14 feet to her left in Aloi's courtroom, Jackie Watson, Jenni-Lyn's mother, said, "Steve, you are the scariest of killers."
She recalled inviting him to family gatherings, sharing meals, watching TV, playing games and exchanging gifts for a year-and-a-half while he dated Jenni-Lyn before she headed off to college.
David Watson expanded on that theme.
"He's the scariest killer because of the mask he would wear in our presence to not allow us to see his true self," the father said at a post-sentencing press conference. "There were times it was laughable, but we never thought he'd go to this ultimate act."
Lauren Watson, Jenni-Lyn's 16-year-old sister, labeled Pieper as "a pathetic excuse of a man."
Selfish jealousy was Pieper's motive for murder, David Watson said.
"Jenni-Lyn's friends and her friendships in general were always a problem for Pieper," the father said in his statement to the court. "He didn't want to share Jenni-Lyn's time and feelings with anyone [because] this threatened his greedy, cowardly needs."