Christa Gail Pike — The only woman on Tennessee death row

Fraulein Motte
12 min readOct 14, 2023

The case of Christa Gail Pike is a disturbing and gruesome one. Christa Pike, one of the youngest women to be sentenced to death in the United States, was convicted of torturing and murdering her classmate, Colleen Slemmer, in 1995.

The Background

Christa Pike was born to her mother, Carissa Hansen, and her father, Glenn Pike, on March 10, 1976, in West Virginia. Unwanted by either parent, she frequently moved homes between her mother’s residence in Tennessee and her father's in West Virginia. This instability led to her changing schools a total of 12 times by the time she earned her GED in 1993.

Raised mainly by her grandmother due to her mother’s struggles with alcoholism and repeated abuse by her father, she flourished as an eager student during her early years. However, her life took a drastic turn when her grandmother passed away when Christa was 12. Following the death of her grandmother, Christa reportedly attempted suicide. She then moved in with her mostly absent mother.

In 1989, at 13 years old, Christa was sexually assaulted by her mother’s boyfriend. Following the attack, she was removed by Children’s Services but returned shortly after.

With the lack of guidance, Christa began to experiment with alcohol and drugs, which eventually led to her arrest for shoplifting. This resulted in her serving a one-year sentence in juvenile detention. It was during this time, under the strict rules and structure of the facility, that she began to find stability and a path to personal growth.

Following her release, she decided to join Job Corp in Knoxville, Tennessee. Job Corp, a program designed for troubled and economically disadvantaged teenagers, provided room and board while offering students the opportunity to pursue their education and gain career skills over a span of up to three years. Christa aspired to become a nurse technician as she embarked on this new chapter of her life.

During her time at Job Corp, Christa Pike crossed paths with Tadaryl Shipp, from Memphis, Tennessee. Tadaryl’s life had its share of challenges, as he lived with his mother, while the absence of his father left a significant impact on him. Struggling in high school, he eventually dropped…

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Fraulein Motte

I'm an independent journalist and writer based in Tennessee, USA. I specialize in covering true crime and other related topics.