Woman Pleads Guilty But Mentally Ill For Murdering Autistic Teen

A young Pennsylvanian woman has pleaded guilty, but mentally ill to Pennsylvanian jurors after she and eight others were arrested for the 2022 kidnapping and murder of an autistic teenager. Pennsylvania’s Indiana County District Attorney Robert F. Manzi Jr. revealed the defendant’s plea after the arrests this past Friday. 

The defendant, 20-year-old Taylyn Edwards of Johnstown, PA entered a plea of guilty but mentally ill in connection to the kidnapping and murder of an autistic teenager named Hayden Garreffa, which occurred in late October of 2022. DA Manzi Jr. stated to the press that Edwards had entered the pleas to the charges as a felony of the first degree. 

Pennsylvania authorities arrested Edwards as well as seven other individuals, including a 14-year-old juvenile, in connection to the kidnap-murder of the young teen. The autistic teenage victim, Garreffa, was reported missing by his family on October 20th, 2022. Garreffa’s family told authorities that it was unlikely that the teenager to leave his cell phone and medications behind, given his condition. Pennsylvania State Troopers later found Garreffa’s dead body on October 24th, 2022, in a remote grassy area in Valley Township, PA, almost two miles from his grandmother’s PA residence, where Garreffa resided at the time. Autopsy reports indicated that Garreffa had been assaulted and stabbed multiple times, and had died two days before his body was found. Investigators believe the suspects had a grievance against Garreffa. 

The PA court can accept Edward’s guilty plea if the defendant proved through evidence that she was mentally ill at the time of the murder, despite DA Manzi stating that the defendant was not legally insane and had intended to commit the crime. Edwards is currently facing life in prison without the possibility of parole and will be sentenced on June 19th, 2024. All other adults in the arrest have been denied bail, while the juvenile offender has been placed in a juvenile detention facility.