The boy "shot her at close range, on the left side of her head, thus causing her death.”
Editor’s note: This article was originally published on September 27, 2021. It has since been updated.
Trigger Warning: This story contains details of gun violence that may be disturbing to readers.
Teenagers today are so addicted to their phones, their lives depend on them, and they're willing to do just about anything to have their phones with them at all times. But one boy took it to another level.
In April 2020, Shawn Tyler Willis reportedly shot his mother, Sandy Willis, with the handgun she kept on her nightstand in their home, according to New York Post. At the time of the incident, Shawn was only 17 years old. He reportedly went into another room to load the gun so his mother, 38, wouldn't hear the sound, adds WBIR. He shot his mother in her head because she had taken his phone away as a form of punishment.
According to a newly released juvenile court petition that was filed in Anderson County Court on May 6, 2020, Shawn has been charged with first-degree murder, per Law & Crime.
Shawn Tyler Willis was charged with first-degree murder for allegedly killing his mother. https://t.co/H8AbKWPsdB— WLBT 3 On Your Side (@WLBT) September 19, 2021
Detective Don Scuglia of the Anderson County Sheriff’s Department, who authored the petition, said that deputies responded to a call about a female found lying unresponsive in bed inside a home on Andys Ridge Road in Rocky Top on April 20. First-responders who arrived at the scene soon discovered Sandy Willis had been killed while lying in her bed. Her cause of death appeared to be a fatal close-range gunshot wound to the left side of her head.
An investigation into her death ensued, and soon, based on evidence and “independent interviews,” detectives confirmed Shawn as the primary suspect. Since Shawn was a minor at the time of the incident, the cops sought permission from his father to be interrogated. During questioning, the teen allegedly admitted to the murder and even provided a detailed summary of his actions.
“Shawn T. Willis confessed to taking his mother’s pistol from off of her nightstand as she was asleep,” the petition states. "The proof will show that this defendant was angry with his mother, Sandy Willis, for punishing him by taking his cell phone away from him. This defendant waited until his mother fell asleep and retrieved a gun from his mother's room," Anderson County court records state.
“Shawn took the pistol downstairs, as to conceal the sound of loading it, then Shawn returned back upstairs to his mother’s room. Shawn walked around the victim’s bed, to the opposite side of the room, positioned himself alongside her bed, and shot her at close range, on the left side of her head, thus causing her death.”
"Shawn later called his girlfriend to report his mother was in the bed with blood on her," records state. "Shawn's girlfriend's father arrived at the home and checked on (Sandy Willis), finding her deceased. Shawn gave numerous conflicting stories as to what had happened, but weeks after the incident, he was interviewed by the detective in this case, where this defendant did admit to shooting his mother in the head as she slept."
The teen was housed at the Richard L. Bean Juvenile Service Center but is now being kept in the Anderson County Jail as an adult, where he is currently being held with a $1 million bond. He is set to appear in Anderson County Criminal Court on December 3, 2021, where he will be tried as an adult.
Cover Image Source: Anderson County Sheriff's Office