Prosecution

The medical examiner who conducted the autopsy concluded that Tesslynn had died of shock, and he listed the cause of death as "battered child syndrome." Compton was indicted on six counts of aggravated murder, murder by abuse, first-degree sexual penetration, and second-degree abuse of a corpse. The jury convicted him of all counts, and he was sentenced to death. Stella Kiser was found guilty of aggravated murder, and sentenced to life without possibility of parole, on April 30, 1999, at her second trial. The first trial ended in a mistrial.

Investigation

On the evening of June 16, 1997, Compton's sister told the Springfield Police Department that she had helped Compton and Kiser bury Tesslynn's body in the Sweet Home, Oregon area two days earlier. Early on the morning of June 17, 1997, Springfield police officers found the child's body buried in a grave near a logging road in the area that Compton's sister had described. They unearthed the body and arranged for an autopsy. In the grave, they also found, among other things, a piece of cloth that appeared to be torn from a curtain, a strip of gray cloth, a blue braided belt, and a woman's ring with a pink stone in it.

That afternoon, police officers went to Compton's apartment. They advised Compton of his Miranda rights and obtained his permission to enter the apartment and to look around. Most of the apartment was dirty and smelled bad. There were holes in the walls, which Compton had made by punching the walls when he was angry or by throwing knives.

In subsequent searches of the apartment, the police found drug paraphernalia, drug residue, and a propane torch. They also found a lamp with a cut cord, a pair of pliers with burn residue on it, rubbing alcohol bottles, and white cloths with knots in them. In a search of a dumpster near defendant's apartment, the police found two trash bags from defendant's apartment that contained a Mother's Day card for Kiser, child's clothing, an electrical cord that had been cut and had a frayed end, a blue cloth, a white cloth, and a shoestring with knots in them, and a rope. The cloth and shoestring had hair mixed in with the knots. Some of the cloth that the police found was similar to cloth that had been found in the child's grave.

Abuse and Murder

Soon after Kiser and Tesslynn moved in with Compton, he began abusing Tesslynn. He hit her on her buttocks and back with a wooden spoon, a spatula, and a belt. Visitors to the apartment witnessed Compton slap her in the face, drag her by her hair, force her to stand in the corner for long periods of time, and make her take long, cold baths or showers. He was frequently angry with Tesslynn, and called her disparaging names. Visitors also observed that Compton and Kiser usually kept Tesslynn in the bedroom during the drug parties, and they could hear the child cry for hours after Compton had been in the bedroom with her. He would not permit others to go into the bedroom to help her. Eventually, Compton and Kiser kept Tesslynn in the bedroom most of the time. When a neighbor complained about the way that defendant treated Tesslynn, defendant told him that he would kill the neighbor and the neighbor's girlfriend if they called the police.

Approximately two months before Tesslynn's death, Compton broke four vertebrae in her back. Sometime thereafter, he forcefully penetrated her vagina with an object and inflicted burns on the child's back, buttocks, and genitals using an open flame. Some of those burns became infected, and Compton poured rubbing alcohol into them. He also inflicted round burns on the child's legs. During the two-week period before Tesslynn died, Compton immobilized her 10 to 15 times by placing her hands and feet over her head and tying them together with ropes, cords, or strips of cloth. He left her tied up for eight to ten hours at a time. Within 24-hours preceding the child's death, defendant struck her in the head several times, causing bruising to her brain, and either punched her in the abdomen or stomped on her with his foot, causing severe internal injuries. He also scraped and bruised her abdomen with a fork.

Compton found Tesslynn dead in the bedroom of the apartment between midnight and 2:00 a.m. on June 14, 1997. Compton cut Tesslynn loose from her restraints and tried to revive her by giving her CPR. He also struck her in the left side of the chest a few times with his fist, then applied a frayed, live electrical cord to her chest, and splashed her with cold water. He was unable to revive her.

Compton and Kiser agreed to leave the body in the bedroom while they thought about what to do. Tesslynn's injuries were so extensive that Compton and Kiser feared that they would go to jail if anyone saw the body. Eventually, they decided to bury the body, which they did with the help of defendant's sister. In the days after they buried Tesslynn, Compton and Kiser were happy, playful, and affectionate with one another. They told friends that Tesslynn was with a babysitter or at the home of Kiser's aunt, and they were planning to move out of town. They also told friends that they wanted to have a baby boy.

This memorial website was created in the memory of our loved one, Tesslynn O'Cull who was born in Oregon on June 08, 1994 and passed away on June 14, 1997 at the age of 3. We will remember her forever.

Tesslynn O'Cull was beaten, burned, bound, sexually assaulted, starved, tortured and brutalized by her mother’s boyfriend, Jesse Compton, and her own mother, Stella Kiser, in the days leading to her death. Her back was broken 2-3 weeks prior to her death and rubbing alcohol had been poured into open wounds on her body.


Background

Early in 1997, Stella Kiser and her daughter, 2 and-a-half year-old O'Cull, began living with Jesse Caleb Compton in his apartment. Compton hosted "drug parties" at his apartment, some of which went on for several days. He prepared methamphetamine for smoking by melting it with a small propane torch. On at least one occasion, Compton held the lighted torch close to his hand to show his friends that he could withstand a great deal of pain.