Wyo. Girl, 16, Is Killed by S.D. Teen She Met Online After Wanting to ‘Run Away’ with Him

by San Eli News

A South Dakota teen has admitted to killing a 16-year-old girl who ran away from home to be with him after they met online.

On Thursday, Michael Campbell, 17, pleaded guilty to first-degree manslaughter in the killing of 16-year-old Shayna Ritthaler, according to the Argus Leader, KNBN and KOTA.

You’ll get the latest updates on this topic in your browser notifications.

Ritthaler was reported missing from a Moorcroft, Wyoming, coffee shop last October.

Weeks earlier, she had met Campbell on the dating website Badoo. The pair eventually planned for Campbell to drive to Wyoming to pick Ritthaler up so she could “run away and live with him in his house,” prosecutors said in court on Thursday, the Leader reports.

Want to keep up with the latest crime coverage? Sign up for PEOPLE’s free True Crime newsletter for breaking crime news, ongoing trial coverage and details of intriguing unsolved cases.

On Oct. 3, Campbell picked Ritthaler up from Wyoming in his Jeep and drove her back to his Sturgis, South Dakota, home. During their time together, an argument ensued that ended when Campbell shot Ritthaler once in the head.

Through their investigation, police located Campbell’s Jeep and made contact with the teen on Oct. 6.

Michael Gavin Campbell
Meade County Sheriff’s Office

The following day, investigators found Ritthaler’s body in Campbell’s basement.

Shortly after his arrest, a judge sealed court documents detailing the crime citing the case’s “sensitive nature.”

Campbell was initially charged with second-degree murder, which was dismissed as part of the plea that recommends 55 years in prison. He is scheduled to be sentenced in July.