As a teen in foster care, Christina Boyer was briefly famous for her alleged telekinetic powers — and as an adult, she was sentenced to life in prison for the 1992 murder of her daughter Amber.
On April 14, 1992, three-year-old Amber Bennett was rushed to the hospital with severe head trauma. By the time she arrived, she was blue in the face. There was nothing doctors could do. She was already dead.
Blame quickly fell on Amber’s young mother, 22-year-old Christina Boyer. Boyer was new to the small Bible Belt region of Carroll County, Georgia, and locals already had a bad feeling about her. They viewed her as ungodly and promiscuous. She was young and unwed, living in a trailer with her boyfriend.
But Boyer denied having hurt her daughter. She insisted that on the morning of April 14, she had left her boyfriend’s trailer to work as a typist in the nearby town of Carrollton. Six hours later, she returned home to find Amber not breathing. Despite this, Boyer was charged with capital murder and entered an Alford Plea to avoid the death penalty.
She has been in prison since 1992, and continues to maintain her innocence. Meanwhile, several prominent journalists and advocates have come to Boyer’s defense. They argue that she was unfairly convicted.
Christina Boyer’s Tumultuous Childhood
Born on Oct. 23, 1969, in Columbus, Ohio, Christina Boyer had a difficult life from the beginning. Her mother was a heroin addict who could not care for her, and Boyer was handed off to the Franklin County Children’s Services before being placed with her foster parents, John and Joan Resch.
According to christinaboyer.org, the Resches formally adopted Boyer when she was two-and-a-half years old. They were a well-respected couple in the community and frequently took in foster children, often housing as many as six children in the home at once. Under their care — which could be both strict and hectic — Boyer started going by Tina Resch.
But her years as Tina weren’t easy ones. When she was 12, one of Boyer’s foster brothers began molesting her — and when she spoke to her parents about it, she claims they didn’t help her.
“Finally, I did tell them, but they didn’t believe me and slapped my face,” Boyer said.
Then things got even weirder at the Resch household. When Boyer was 14, she claims that she began to notice strange things happening around her when she got angry or upset. Plates, chairs, and other objects seemed to move on their own, and Boyer had no control over it. Soon enough, she was labeled the “Columbus poltergeist kid” and a slew of journalists, parapsychologists, and paranormal investigators grew interested in her case.
In particular, parapsychologist Bill Roll was fascinated by Boyer’s strange situation. In 1984, he and an assistant moved into the Resch home and began observing Boyer, filming her nearly every move and recording her with a dictation device. In the end, Roll wrote that Boyer had “one of the most convincing cases of poltergeist activity” he had ever seen.
Roll was fixated on discovering the source of Boyer’s supposed telekinesis, and shortly after his initial investigation, he invited the 15-year-old to stay in his home in North Carolina. Boyer agreed without hesitation.
“My adoptive father had stopped speaking to me, and my adoptive mom and I argued all the time,” Boyer later explained to The Atavist. “Bill was like someone who was saving me from drowning in my family.”
In North Carolina, Boyer was introduced to Jeannie Lagle, a psychiatrist and hypnotherapist. Lagle and Roll had Boyer undergo various brain scans and therapies, and participate in a parapsychology conference. But eventually, the Resch family asked Boyer to come back home.
Shortly after she returned to Ohio, however, Boyer ran away. At the of age 16, she eloped with a man named James Bennett, whom she married “to get away from [the Resch household].” But as Boyer later acknowledged, she “ended up marrying a monster.”
Bennett beat her unconscious, gagged her, and raped her repeatedly. When she tried to run away, he tracked her down. He threatened her. He burned her clothing to stop her from leaving him.
She eventually managed to escape, but the horror was far from over. Bennett stalked and harassed her, and Boyer developed an eating disorder as a result of the stress. One day when she was 19, she found herself in the hospital unable to keep water down – and learned that she was pregnant.
Having A Daughter ‘Saved’ Christina Boyer’s Life
Despite the stress of her life at the time, Christina Boyer did not view her pregnancy as yet another bad hand dealt to her by fate. On the contrary, Boyer saw her pregnancy as a chance to start anew.
“Getting pregnant saved my life,” she later recalled.
Her daughter Amber Gail Bennett was born on Sept. 29, 1988. Boyer named her for a girl she’d met in the foster system. “I always said if I ever had a baby, that that’s what I would grow up and name her,” Boyer said.
Boyer was determined to make a better life for her daughter than the one she’d had. When her next husband, Larry Boyer, proved to be abusive, Boyer skipped town with Amber while he was in jail. She set off for Carroll County, Georgia, where Roll and Lagle had also moved. Amber had just turned three.
Roll and Lagle were eager to help Boyer — and get their research started up again — but there was another problem: tension had slowly been growing between the two researchers.
“He was a little Sneaky Pete, always,” Lagle said of Roll. “I was the one doing the heavy lifting.”
Lagle learned that Roll had been speaking at parapsychology conferences without her and that he had been secretly working on a book. So, Lagle cut a deal with Boyer: the two of them would write a book together about Boyer’s paranormal experiences.
“It had been my hope to get enough written to offer to an agent who would pay us to finish it. Then I would’ve had some breathing room financially,” Boyer later explained. Lagle also offered Boyer a job typing up research notes for their project at a rate of $5 per hour.
Things were still a struggle, but other parts of Boyer’s life seemed to be looking up. In 1992, Boyer began dating a man named David Herrin, who also had a daughter around Amber’s age named Ashley. With Herrin around to watch the girls, Boyer was able to focus on building a good life for her family.
But on April 14 of that year, tragedy of the worst kind struck.
The Death Of Amber Bennett
It wasn’t uncommon for Amber to have a few bruises or scrapes on her. She was a hyperactive toddler who needed constant supervision. Christina Boyer reminded Herrin frequently that Amber required a different kind of attention than Ashley, who was much more content to sit by herself.
Lagle later told The Atavist that Amber was a “really active kid” who was constantly running around and knocking into things. In the days leading up to her death, Amber had gotten a bump on her head after rushing to get out of her car seat and falling on the curb. Boyer had called her adoptive mother about the “goose egg” on Amber’s forehead, who reassured her that it was probably nothing but instructed her to keep an eye on it.
On April 14, 1992, Herrin offered to watch Amber while Boyer was at work. As Boyer left his trailer, she looked back and watched Amber crawl up onto his lap with a book. That was the last time that Boyer saw her daughter alive.
When she returned later, she found Herrin standing in the driveway. He told her that he couldn’t wake Amber up from her nap, and Boyer rushed into the trailer to check on her. She found her daughter unconscious and “grayish.”
They rushed Amber to the hospital, but it was too late. Amber was dead. And before Boyer even had a moment to grieve, police were escorting her away to question her about her daughter’s death.
According to case files reported on by journalist Jan Benning, the case against Boyer and Herrin rested almost entirely on whether Boyer had been “covering up abuse” from Herrin. Prosecutors argued that if Boyer had taken her daughter to the hospital sooner, when she first noticed signs of bruising, that Amber’s life could have been saved. However, the medical examiner who’d conducted Amber’s autopsy testified that girl could not have suffered the “fatal blow” in the morning before her mother left. She would have started acting strange within 15 to 30 minutes — not six hours.
Investigators also asked Boyer seemingly unrelated questions about her personal life, such as whether she and Herrin engaged in anal sex. They — conveniently, as Boyer would later say — didn’t record their conversations with Boyer, but allegedly implied that Boyer had allowed Herrin to sodomize her daughter, and all she had to do was admit it.
But Boyer adamantly denied that any sort of sexual abuse had occurred.
Though he believed she was innocent, Christina Boyer’s court appointed lawyer suggested she take an Alford Plea — a way of pleading guilty while maintaining innocence — in order to avoid the death penalty. Boyer, who was taking antipsychotics, antidepressants, and sleep aids, agreed. She was sentenced to life in prison. And detectives on the case believe that her decision to take an Alford Plea impacted how people viewed her.
“Personally I think if the jury hadn’t known that she pled guilty to homicide they would have found [Herrin] guilty,” one detective said. “If his jury hadn’t known she had pled guilty to murder he would have gotten life.”
Christina Boyer remains behind bars to this day, whereas Herrin was acquitted of murder and sentenced to 20 years in prison for child cruelty. He has served his sentence; Boyer will likely be in prison for the rest of her life. But for her, life seemed to have ended a long time ago.
“Amber had died and the best part of whoever I was died too,” Boyer said.
After reading about the unique case of Christina Boyer, read the story of Gypsy Rose Blanchard, the “sick” girl who killed her abusive mother. Or, learn about the Greenbrier Ghost, the woman who may have come back from the dead to solve her own murder.