Brian Lee Wonsom pleads guilty in rape, murder case

Brian Lee Wonsom

By the age of 13, Brian Wonsom had committed dozens of burglaries, ruthlessly stabbed his neighbor while she slept and then bludgeoned to death and then raped his 63-year-old reform school teacher Hannah Wheeling at the Cheltenham Youth Facility in Brandywine.

On Friday, at age 15 he pleaded guilty to all of it. He'll spend 85 years in prison. States Attorney Angela Alsobrooks says he deserves at least that.

“Those who rape in our community who kill in our community are not fit to live among us,” she says.

The murder of Wheeling at Cheltenham in February 2010 drew widespread attention and calls for juvenile justice reform.

Her nude body was found in the snow 14 hours after she'd given Wonsom a test. Her skull had been crushed with a cinderblock.

DNA linked Wonsom to the murder and rape and later to a previously unsolved attempted murder in a Laurel building where Wonsom lived. His victim, Harriet Peprah, survived despite being stabbed multiple times.

In court Friday, Assistant State's attorney Wes Adams read a statement from Peprah saying she couldn't understand why a mere boy would have murder on his mind. The prosecutor says Wonsom is a sociopath.

“Childhood onset anti-social personality disorder,” Adams says. “That's not criminally insane - that's dangerous.”

In court, Wonsom answered the judges questions with lazy yesses and no's. He showed no emotion and he offered no explanation or apology for his crimes. He also had no family present in the courtroom.

“And you know what? There is no answer for why a 13-year-old boy is capable of killing and raping in the manner which he did,” Alsobrooks says.