After luring 18-year-old Jolee Callan into a hike “as friends,” ex-boyfriend Loren Bunner shot her and shoved her off a cliff. Then, he nearly escaped justice after claiming that he was on the autism spectrum.
Jolee Callan had her whole life ahead of her. The 18-year-old had a new boyfriend and was about to begin college when she agreed to meet her ex-boyfriend, Loren Daniel Bunner, for one last hiking trip.
The trip was, presumably, meant to be a chance for the duo to come to an understanding about the future of their relationship — as friends.
Instead, it ended with Callan’s brutal murder.
Loren Bunner Documented Jolee Callan’s Final Moments On Instagram
Born on Dec. 29, 1996, Jolee Callan grew up living an ordinary, all-American life. In high school, she was known as a pretty, popular girl with a petite 4’10” frame and a knack for dying her hair in punky pink and purple shades.
Then, she met 20-year-old Loren Daniel Bunner. According to those who knew the young pair, Bunner was possessive and wanted Callan to “spend time with him and his friends only.” Bunner became increasingly jealous.
Callan’s previous attempts to break up with him were unsuccessful, as he’d threaten suicide each time she tried to leave. Finally, Callan succeeded in breaking it off with Bunner, but this decision would prove fatal.
Months later, Callan had a new beau and Bunner contacted her for a hike “as friends.” She agreed and jokingly texted a friend the night before their meetup: “if something happens to me, you’ll know who I was with.”
On Aug. 30, 2015, the pair took Callan’s dog, Kiba, to the Pinhoti Trail in Cheaha State Park in the Alabama countryside. Bunner chillingly chronicled the day’s events on his Instagram page. He uploaded three photos of Callan on their final hike together, with the last photo of her on a cliffside with her back to the camera taken just minutes before he shot her twice with a .22 Bear Claw.
Bunner fired the first bullet into the back of her head. When Callan collapsed, Bunner flipped her over and shot her once more once in between her eyes. Then, he shoved her off the 40-foot cliff.
Bunner Almost Got Away With It
Bunner returned to his car where he called 911 to admit to his crime. “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 in a calm voice.
He then waited on the side of the road for the police to arrive.
It didn’t take long for police to find Jolee Callan’s body. Bunner was coated in her blood and was quickly arrested and charged with her murder, for which he pleaded not guilty.
At the trial in November 2015, Bunner claimed that he and Callan had a murder-suicide pact which he, conveniently, couldn’t go through with after he murdered Callan. But family and friends of Callan made clear that the victim was preparing for the future and didn’t seem depressed — and it was more likely that Bunner killed Callan in cold blood when she refused to rekindle their romantic relationship.
But then Bunner’s attorneys argued that he had Asperger’s syndrome, which is on the autism spectrum, and that he should be granted youthful offender status. Under Alabama law, any defendant under the age of 21 may file for this status, which guarantees that they serve no more than three years in prison for their crime — regardless of the severity.
Bunner was granted that status.
Michael Callan, Jolee’s father, called a local ABC affiliate to petition this status. The subsequent media frenzy saw Bunner back in court in no time, and by December of that same year, his youthful offender status was rescinded.
On July 13, 2017, Bunner pleaded guilty to Jolee Callan’s murder, though his attorneys pleaded with the courts for leniency, claiming that there was evidence he lived with a mental illness. The judge, however, was not swayed. Bunner was sentenced as an adult and got 52 years in prison.
Even though Bunner will be eligible for parole in 15 years, Michael Callan felt that justice was served for his daughter that day.
“It’s the right thing to do, I mean come on. You don’t get youthful offender and maybe three years, for cold-blooded killing somebody. You don’t get that,” he said. “Jolee was a sweet girl, she was sweet, sweet, sweet, good girl, and I think she’s smiling today, okay?”
After learning about the murder of Jolee Callan, read about how an Indian teenager died by suicide trying to do the “Blue Whale Challenge.” Then, learn about Harvey Robinson — the teenage serial killer on death row.