They say your high school years are the best time of your life. With no worries or responsibilities, teenagers and their under-developed frontal cortexes make mistakes, act impulsively, and we all know that obnoxious attitude. But honestly, high school isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.
During that time, people usually experience their first heartbreak, being left out, and being made fun of. But what kids go through now is way worse, thanks to the rise of social media. People have no shame or limitations when they are online. Instead of only worrying about college, kids have to deal with haters all the time, which leads to increasing cases of anxiety and depression in teenagers.
The Rise of Technology
Modern technology has definitely made our lives easier, but it also has its downsides. One big problem since the rise of the internet has been cyber-bullying. It’s no secret that social media is an integral part of most people’s lives, especially teenagers. For some reason, people feel way more comfortable criticizing and threatening others behind a screen, so the internet is the ultimate platform for bullying.
Since you’re hiding behind a screen, it’s easy to make horrible, insulting comments that no one would dare to say in real life – but, unfortunately, that doesn’t make it any less hurtful. Death threats usually come from dramatic users, but sometimes, internet harassment extends into real life. This pure, relentless hatred and trolling has destroyed many lives with tragic examples.
This is the story of high-school students Rachel Wade and Sarah Ludemann. After fighting over a boy, both girls took to social media. Let’s just say this bloody love triangle went horribly wrong, and two young lives were lost in an instant.
A Normal Kid
Rachel Wade was born to a loving family. She had an ordinary childhood. She grew up in a middle-class neighborhood in a small suburb of Pinellas Park, right outside of Tampa Bay, Florida. Her dad worked as a truck driver, and her mom was a special-ed teacher.
In her early teenage years, Rachel started to act out, but who doesn’t? She seemed to be a regular teenager going through a “phase.” Her parents assumed it would pass, but she continued to display dramatic or extreme behaviors.
Trying to Be a Badass
Rachel was a beautiful, petite girl who was 5’4’ and 115 pounds. The 17-year-old high school senior had blonde hair and eyes as blue as the ocean. She truly had her whole life ahead of her and a chance at a bright future.
Rachel’s MySpace page said she was an “independent chick” and showed a picture of her posing on her bed with a flirty look. But we all remember what it was like in high school. Teenagers tend to have an attitude, and their under-developed brains don’t understand the consequences of their actions.
Just a “Phase”
At first, Rachel’s rebellious attitude seemed to be a “phase” she was going through. No one thought she was acting differently from other teenagers… until things got worse. She wasn’t as ordinary or as innocent as she looked.
Things escalated into a disturbing and dangerous situation when Rachel was 15. She got in a car with a 19-year-old boy in the school parking lot. This resulted in the boy being charged with a felony sex offense.
The Wrong Path
Of course, 15-year-old Rachel couldn’t give consent even if she wanted to, so the boy should have been charged – but there aren’t many details about that case. Either way, Rachel was continuously engaging in erratic and unsafe behavior. The teenage rebellion crossed the line, and Rachel seemed to be on the wrong path.
She would sneak out of her house quite often, sleeping in strangers’ cars and in lounge chairs at random apartment pools. During her sophomore year of high school, Rachel ran away from home 14 times!
A Toxic Relationship
At just 15 years old, Rachel moved in with her boyfriend, and a year later, she dropped out of school. I don’t know about you, but if I had done that at 15, my mother would have smacked me on the butt, and my father would have beaten up the boy without hesitation.
One of Rachel’s exes described Rachel and her new boyfriend as “bad kids.” They would scream at each other all the time. Also, Rachel allegedly held a knife to his throat on at least one occasion. But when he dared her to use it, she cried and ran away.
Getting Her Act Together
Although she was on the wrong path and hanging around the wrong people, it didn’t mean Rachel was a cold-hearted person who was capable of murder, right? In the summer of 2008, Rachel finally ended her toxic relationship and was ready to get her life back on track.
Rachel got her GED, her own apartment, her own car, and held down a full-time job at Applebee’s. She even made a point to have dinner with her parents every weekend. She really seemed to have overcome her teenage rebellion and was starting to act like a responsible adult.
The New Boyfriend
Things were finally looking up for Rachel. But her newfound life included a new boyfriend, 19-year-old Josh Camacho. The pair had known each other since they were kids but reconnected at a party through a mutual friend.
Now that Rachel got her act together, it seemed like she was going back to her old ways by dating Josh, a notorious “bad boy” with tattoos and a pit bull. Conceited and full of himself, Josh took countless selfies flexing his muscles. But his bad-boy image went way beyond that.
Once a Cheater
He already sounds like the type of guy that I would never bring home to my parents, but before I get too judgmental, let’s learn more about Josh. At 19 years old, Josh was already a baby daddy – and he had actually cheated on the mother of his child. You can already see the type of person he is.
Fully aware of his unflattering past and tons of red flags telling her to stay away, Rachel continued dating Josh. But we all know the phrase: “once a cheater, always a cheater.” It didn’t take long for him to prove his conniving ways by dating another girl at the same time, Sarah Ludemann.
The Other Girl
Sarah appeared to be almost the opposite of Rachel. The honor roll student got straight As in school and was described as having a good head on her shoulders. She wasn’t boy-crazy like many of her friends. She preferred singing, dancing, and studying.
Sarah was super-close with her parents, landing the name “sidekick” since she always wanted to be by her dad’s side. Sarah was happy despite not having much of a social life other than her circle of friends. But all of that came to a halt when she met Josh at the Chick-fil-A he worked at.
A Bad Influence
Josh and Sarah started dating almost immediately, but Sarah’s parents didn’t approve of her boyfriend from the beginning. Apparently, her dad would refer to Josh as “The Rat.” However, you could only control your child to a certain extent, so there wasn’t much they could do about him.
Since they knew, Sarah was going to date Josh with or without their approval, her parents decided to try and get to know him. But they quickly realized that Sarah’s grades were dropping, she was ditching school, and her life was completely centered around Josh as everything else was pushed aside.
And the Cyberbullying Begins
Sarah’s curfew was at midnight, meaning Josh would hang out with her until 12 and then go sleep over at Rachel’s place. It didn’t take long for Rachel to find out about Sarah and attack her online, by sending her MySpace messages warning her to leave Josh alone.
On one occasion, Rachel wrote a MySpace post, allegedly about Josh, saying: “When we first met, I was madly in love… but since then things have changed… you called me names, you slept around… I deserve so much better!” Sarah commented on the post suggesting that Josh “found better.”
The Drama Heats Up
Rachel, who had a history of dramatic and intense emotions, was enraged with jealously. As soon as she got Sarah’s phone number from Josh, the harassment began. It started off with your typical bullying. Rachel called Sarah “fat” and told her she “looked like a dog.”
Since Josh told Sarah she was the only girl in his life, Sarah assumed that Rachel was just one of his crazy ex-girlfriends. She tried to ignore it at first, but the harassment only got worse. When it became unbearable, Sarah finally decided to call Rachel.
The Harassment Continues
That’s when the reality set in, and Sarah realized she was being played. Sarah felt betrayed, and as in many love triangle situations, Sarah directed her anger toward Rachel instead of Josh. This is where the drama really stirred up.
Sarah showed up at Rachel’s Thursday night shift at Applebee’s. It was karaoke night, and Sarah made up inappropriate lyrics to taunt her. She would also intentionally sit in Rachel’s section, purposely knocking things over so that Rachel would have to clean up after her.
A Petty Feud
As a former waitress, having to serve someone you don’t like is not fun, and Rachel wasn’t going to put up with it. In retaliation, Rachel would spit in Sarah’s food or put hair in it. Allegedly, there was an incident at Taco Bell where Sarah and her friends made fun of Rachel and sprayed her with silly string.
This all started off as petty drama, and it just looked like two teenagers were fighting over some dumb boy. But things took a deadly turn on April 15, 2009. The events of that night shattered the lives of many.
That Fateful Night
Despite his cheating ways, Sarah stayed with Josh. The couple was hanging out at Josh’s sister Janet’s house. Rachel knew they were together and allegedly drove to the house and started texting Josh. Being the jerk he was, Josh spitefully showed Sarah the messages.
Josh clearly loved the attention of two girls fighting over him. He showed Sarah the messages knowing they would infuriate her. That’s when Sarah went out looking for Rachel – wanting to have a physical fight with her and end their drama once and for all.
On the Prowl
Sarah, Janet, and one other friend went looking for Rachel. On the way, they ran into one of Sarah’s other friends, who told them that Rachel was at a friend’s house, Javier Laboy. They headed over there, but they didn’t expect the night to end the way it did.
When Sarah and her friends arrived at Javier’s house, they saw Rachel out front, sitting on the hood of her car. Rachel was outnumbered, but she was ready for them – hiding a razor-sharp steak knife in her hand.
Catfight Gone Wrong
As soon as the bitter rivals made eye contact, they both charged without a second thought. At a certain point, Rachel took out the knife and stabbed Sarah twice. Janet said she saw Rachel approach Sarah with a knife and stab her – once in the shoulder and once in the chest.
But Javier had a different story. He said that Rachel did not come toward Sarah with a knife. He claims that in the middle of the brief fight, Rachel grabbed the knife, possibly in a self-defense move. But things were about to go from bad to worse.
A Bloody Scene
Everything was happening so fast, so it took everyone a second to grasp what was going on, but there was blood everywhere. Sarah was bleeding profusely from the chest while a friend pressed a shirt over the stab wound, hoping to stop the blood.
Unfortunately, the blood kept gushing out of her body until Sarah became unconscious and unresponsive. Paramedics rushed Sarah to the hospital, and the police immediately began their investigation. While speaking to witnesses, most of them said Rachel stabbed Sarah.
When police arrived at the scene, they noted that Rachel was sitting on a bench near the crime scene, casually smoking a cigarette. Officer Trehy was stunned by her lack of emotion. Rachel was taken in for questioning, and the interrogation tape really paints a new picture.
Rachel explained to investigators what had happened and how she was sick and tired of all the harassment. She also said she brought the knife for self-defense. But her anger turned to tears very quickly.
Getting the Shocking News
Sarah was taken to the hospital, and I guess Rachel assumed that she would be okay. But when investigators came back into the interrogation room, they told Rachel that Sarah was pronounced dead at the hospital as a result of the fatal stab at her heart.
The expression on Rachel’s face completely changed. Rachel was completely shocked. Some people may believe her tears came from fear, but some people think Rachel never meant to kill Sarah, and maybe she really did bring the knife to defend herself.
Rachel Wade’s Trial
On July 21, 2010, Rachel was tried as an adult and spent her 20th birthday behind bars. Officer Trehy testified that Rachel was “more concerned about having a cigarette than the fact that a girl… was out on the street… pretty much gone.”
The Pinellas County medical examiner also testified at the trial, explaining that a stab like that would require great force, suggesting that it could have been intentional. It certainly didn’t help her case when Prosecutor Wesley Dicus said the stabbing was so violent that the knife’s blade was bent.
Guilty as Charged
On July 23, 2010, after a few hours of closing argument, the jury came back with a verdict: guilty as charged for murder in the second degree. Rachel apologized to Sarah’s parents, saying she never wanted to have a physical altercation with their daughter.
Needless to say, it wasn’t going to bring Sarah back, so the apology meant nothing. Sarah’s mother made a plea for Rachel to get the maximum sentence. Although she didn’t get life, Rachel was sentenced to 27 years in the slammer.
Her request for an appeal was denied in 2012. She’ll get out of prison in 2035; Rachel will be 45 years old.
The Other Side of the Story
So, the case is over: Rachel Wade was found guilty of second-degree murder, and Judge Joseph Bulone sentenced the 20-year-old to 27 years behind bars, which sounds fair. But still, the exact details of the case aren’t so clear.
It may seem like the petty fights turned violent out of nowhere, but there was actually a lot that led up to that fateful fate. Now, we’re going to get into the facts about what exactly led up to the events of April 15, 2009. Was it all Rachel’s fault?
Possible Self Defense?
If you look closely at everything that went down before the stabbing, it seems like Sarah Ludemann played an equally aggressive role in harassing and antagonizing Rachel Wade. It’s been confirmed that Sarah drove a minivan to Rachel’s location that night in order to confront her.
Rachel’s attorney, Jay Hebert, says the angry girls were going to jump his client. It was Rachel against all of them. With that in mind, the stabbing does look more like self-defense than cold-blooded murder. I’m not trying to blame the victim here, just revealing some unknown details about the case.
One Voicemail Sealed Rachel’s Fate
There is always one thing that convinces the jury about the defendant’s guilt. In this case, it was a chilling voicemail where Rachel is clearly furious; she uses foul language and then utters the words “I’m going to kill you.” I don’t know about you, but I’ve said things like that when I’m angry – obviously, I don’t actually mean it. Did Rachel mean it?
Although Sarah ended up dead, it’s not like she didn’t taunt Rachel. She was harassing her all the time. Is it possible that Sarah forced Rachel into doing something completely out of character?
Sarah Was Harassing Rachel Endlessly
As we mentioned, Sarah showed up at Applebee’s to bother Rachel at work on several occasions. Each time, the only reason she was there was to harass Rachel. In addition, Sarah was reportedly a really big girl who weighed almost 200 pounds. 115-pound Rachel might have really thought she needed to defend herself.
If Sarah had been the same size as her, would Rachel have brought a knife? It’s hard to say. One thing that seems pretty clear is that Rachel used social media to make herself seem mean and tough, which led the jury to believe she was capable of holding her own against Sarah.
Social Media Played a Huge Role
One of the problems with social media is how fake it is! You can make yourself appear however you want online. Other than using filters to appear skinnier and tanner, you can take on a completely new personality online. And again, it’s easier to say things behind a screen that you would NEVER say in person.
I don’t have a complete history of their social media exchanges to paint a clear picture about the role social media had on this tragedy, but it certainly played a much bigger role than initially thought, especially since it shifted the jury’s decision and possibly sealed Rachel’s fate.
The Boy in the Middle
And then there is that punk, Josh Camacho. Should any blame be placed on his shoulders? He was playing these two and took pleasure in seeing their catfights escalate into a public drama, which ended in death. Cheating on your girlfriend isn’t a crime, but what if it ends in death?
The night before the stabbing, Josh slept at Rachel’s and invited her over the next day for another rendez-vous. But when Rachel arrived there the next day, Josh was already hanging out with Sarah. Rachel left and drove to a friend’s house.
“Old School” Social Media
I should clarify that it was Sarah who went out looking for Rachel, not the other way around. But there were “aggravating circumstances” that night that included several nasty text message exchanges between the teenagers and, of course, that threatening call from Rachel to Sarah.
It looks like social media was a direct trigger. Remember, this was back in 2009, so social media was in its infancy. These girls were communicating through texts and MySpace because Instagram and Snapchat didn’t exist yet. They used the limited platforms they had.
Everyone Has an Online Personality
A popular theory is that Rachel felt strong and powerful when she hid behind these electronic devices. It allowed her to project the kind of sting that would really hurt Sarah’s feelings and might scare her off. Social media just gave her to push to say things that made her look “tough.”
During an interview on TruTV, she morphed back into her graceful “true self.” Her split personality is a result of the vindicating factor of electronic gadgets, which turns otherwise normal teens into completely different people. In this case, it turned Rachel into a murderer.
A Cautionary Tale
This story should really be served as a cautionary tale about the dangers of social media. And remember, this was back in 2009. Social media platforms have increased, and the popularity of internet trolls have skyrocketed with it.
Kids these days really need to watch out. Some parents don’t even understand the damage of social media because they didn’t grow up with it. However, it’s important for parents to educate themselves so they can understand what their children are dealing with on a constant basis.
The Boy at the Center
Although this is a story about how social media can lead to death, there is a more serious issue here. This entire thing happened over a boy! I know, when you’re young and in love, there is nothing you wouldn’t do for your boyfriend.
However, when Sarah and Rachel both realized they were being played, they should have teamed up against him. Instead, they were fighting each other as he continued to sleep with both of them. Honestly, this kid was your average jerk. What is it about this guy that made two girls fight?
Who Is Joshua Camacho?
Jay Camacho and his little brother Joshua were well known around Pinellas Park. They had a close circle of friends there, but they were mostly known for the number of girlfriends they would juggle at once. They sound like a couple of stand-up guys.
Some of the women they messed with gave birth to their children and they depended on other gals for income since they could never hold down a job. What a catch! I can totally understand why two girls would fight over such a responsible, respectable man… NOT!
Sweet Talking Losers
Honestly, outside of their friend group, no woman would give these tattooed, arrogant and unemployed dudes a second look, but, for some reason, they were considered quite the catch in the Pinellas Park area. I still don’t get it. I’d literally go for anyone else.
Unfortunately, these girls were blinded by love. The players would promise their ladies undying love and manipulate them with sweet words. But they liked to keep their women “in check” with abuse and by pitting them against each other.
Is Being an Asshole a Crime?
Josh loved the attention and enjoyed watching the drama unfold. It’s sickening to see how much he wanted Rachel and Sarah to fight over him. But as soon as things went too far, Josh wanted nothing to do with it. In reality, if Josh didn’t exist (or if he wasn’t such a jerk), none of this would have happened.
Although he didn’t plunge the knife into anyone’s heart, he might as well have. Sarah’s blood will always be on his hands. He refused to do any interviews or speak to reporters about the case and hasn’t taken any responsibility.
Words of Wisdom
It’s not surprising that Josh hasn’t spoken out or apologized. But after seeing that the consequences of his actions, you would assume he would take a good look at his life and change his behavior. I don’t know if he has or hasn’t, but the fact that he won’t talk about it says a lot.
Girls, if you ever find yourself in a similar situation, please don’t put all the blame on the other woman. At the end of the day, if your boyfriend has cheated on you, he will with someone else. Instead of blaming each other, you should team up and confront him. That’s my relationship advice for the day!