Holly Harvey didn’t have a fair start in life. Many criminals don’t. Harvey’s childhood however wasn’t anywhere near as difficult as some yet Harvey became a very violent young woman and at 15, was sentenced to two life sentences in prison after murdering her grandparents. Usually when we take a look into a violent killer’s background there is extreme dysfunction, whether through abuse, neglect or an inappropriate childhood environment. However one person may emerge as a law-abiding, decent human being after surviving such a childhood and another becomes a Holly Harvey. This blog doesn’t seek to answer the “why” of that strange phenomenon. Rather, it presents a tragic example of the murderous type.
Fayetteville County – Georgia. Fayetteville is known as a “God-fearing community“, mostly Baptist, and characterized by a sleepy, trusting community. That is, until Holly Harvey and her lesbian lover, Sandra Ketchum, 16, committed the atrocious dual murder of Carl, 77 and Sarah Collier, 73 on August 2, 2004. Harvey, plain and plump, was born in 1989 to Carla, an unstable mother who permitted Harvey to raise herself. Harvey’s parents divorced when she was a young child. Harvey’s mother Carla held many parties and displayed inappropriate behaviour in her own home. She had sex with boyfriends in front of her daughter and encouraged Harvey to do the same. Harvey was left to herself, also known as neglected. Harvey was a burden and not wanted. Her mother all but ignored her and eventually Carla was jailed on drug charges leaving Harvey in the care of her grandparents. Although the Colliers were good people, their daughter hadn’t turned out too well, It was questionable at best that they would attempt to now raise their granddaughter.
The Colliers were strict Baptists with old-fashioned views on child discipline. They lived in Riverdale, north of Fayetteville. They imposed a strict curfew on Harvey and disapproved of her lesbian girlfriend. Of course the more the Colliers attempted to oppress Harvey the more the teenager rebelled. At times, Harvey was heard to tell her grandparents that she hated them and wanted “to kill” them. Oh dear. That didn’t bode well. Harvey was accustomed to smoking marijuana and making her own rules. Carla had also permitted her child to live a promiscuous lifestyle. Carla’s lifestyle was the same. She didn’t see anything wrong with raising her daughter that way. The “wrong” in Harvey’s lifestyle was that Carla’s permissiveness incubated a killer.
Long before the night in question, Harvey seethed in anger and hatred toward her grandparents. She wrote about her deep depression in her journal when her grandparents threatened to place her in a group home, separating the two girls for good. Harvey became obsessed with maintaining her relationship with Ketchum. She told friends that she hated her grandparents and planned to kill them. She called her grandfather a “bastard.” No one believed her. However at times Harvey became physically aggressive with her grandparents, revealing her hatred towards them. Alas, the elderly people were at a loss as to how to deal with their grandchild’s rage. The Colliers couldn’t believe their granddaughter was capable of killing them. They continued to love and nurture Harvey, trusting in God to help them.
Harvey finally enlisted Ketchum to murder her grandparents with her. Ketchum readily agreed. On August 2, 2004 Harvey gathered several butcher knives. The two girls began smoking pot, knowing the smell would bring Harvey’s grandparents to her room. Ketchum hid beneath Harvey’s bed until Sarah entered Harvey’s bedroom. Harvey stabbed her in the abdomen. Shocked, Carl wrestled Harvey onto her bed and nearly overcame her until she stabbed him in the chest. Ketchum remained in hiding beneath Harvey’s bed and took part in the attack when Holly asked, “Why aren’t you helping me?”
The poor old man shuffled to the kitchen and grabbed the phone. Harvey followed him, cut the phone line and stabbed her grandfather repeatedly as he begged for his life. After Carl stopped moving Harvey returned to her bedroom. Ketchum informed Harvey that Sarah was still alive and stated it “wasn’t too late to get help.” Harvey responded by stabbing Sarah to death while Ketchum looked on. In total, Carl was stabbed 23 times; Sarah 35 times.
The night of the murder Harvey wrote KILL KEYS MONEY JEWELLERY on her left forearm. It was a list of to-dos for the evening that demonstrated how emotionally removed Harvey was from the murders. After the killings, Harvey and Ketchum found the Collier’s keys to their Chevrolet King Cab truck, stole money from the elderly people’s wallets and stole Sarah’s jewellery. Dripping in blood, the two hurried from the house and drove off in the vehicle. It was very telling that Harvey chose knives to murder her relatives. The crime was “hands-on” and rather intimate – Harvey stared into her horrified grandparents’ eyes the entire time she butchered them. As the girls fled the area, they called several friends along the way and gleefully urging them to watch the 10 o’clock news. Well everyone wants that 15 minutes of fame.
As young people are wont to do, the two killers had no plan beyond the short-term. They drove to a friend’s beach house on Tybee Island, about four hours away. The friend, Sarah Polk, stared into the car and asked why they were bloody. The girls lied and stated they’d been attacked by someone. Inside other friends joined the girls. Later Harvey and Ketchum giggled and admitted to the murder. The friends were horrified. Harvey and Ketchum sensed their horror and left. Jamie Donaldson, Polk’s mother, called police. “They have blood all over them. Knives and everything.” Polk took the phone. “This girl Holly Harvey, she came over to my house with my friend Sandy. Sandy Ketchum.” Police soon traced the truck and found the blood-covered girls. They were arrested. Ketchum displayed remorse. Harvey still giggled and remained unaffected by the murders. 17 hours had passed since the murders.
Harvey pled guilty to the murders. She stated blatantly, “I got the biggest knife I could find out of the kitchen,” she said, adding that they practiced stabbing a mattress to see if the knife was sharp enough. Harvey detailed how she killed the couple. For half an hour, she choked back sobs that were most likely crocodile tears and spoke softly as she recounted the killings to Fayette County Superior Court Judge Pascal English. Ketchum suggested stealing the grandparent’s truck “to get something to calm us down,” Harvey said. “‘We’ll have to kill them to do that,”‘ Harvey said she responded. “But I didn’t mean nothing by that,” she told English.
She insisted, “My eyes were closed the whole time.” When the judge asked Harvey why she did it, the teen said, “For Sandy, so that we could be together.” When he asked what she thought should happen to her, Harvey replied, “I think I should be dead.” The judge muttered, “We both agree on that.”
Ketchum’s hearing was much shorter. She was not forced to detail the crime because she was immediately cooperative with authorities, showed remorse and was prepared to testify against Harvey at trial. Prosecutor Scott Ballard stated that this behaviour justified a lighter sentence. With the plea bargain and time off for good behaviour, both girls could easily be in their thirties by the time they are parolled.
Author Dale Hudson penned a book about the Collier killings entitled All I want to do is Kill, a line from Harvey’s journal. For an analysis of the relationship between Harvey and Ketchup read Dangerous Deadly Devious Duos. After Harvey and Ketchum’s sentencing, outside the courthouse, Tim Ketchum, Ketchum’s father, gave a brief interview to reporters. He said she did the right thing in testifying against Harvey. “I can’t explain it. I’m not that type of person,” he said. “I didn’t raise her to be that type of person. I want to say to the community I’m very sorry this happened.”
Not as sorry as the Colliers.