Police: Teen confesses to stabbings, converted to Islam

Corey Johnson is the suspect in a triple stabbing that left one juvenile dead in the BallenIsles neighborhood of Palm Beach Gardens. (WPEC)

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. (WPEC) - Investigators said the 17-year-old accused of killing a 13-year-old boy, and stabbing a mother and her teen son at a home in Palm Beach Gardens, had been the focus of an FBI bulletin due to reports about his violent tendencies. Police say he converted to Islam, watched violent videos online and admitted to the stabbings due to his religious beliefs.

Police identified the suspect as 17-year-old Corey Johnson of Jupiter.

Investigators said Johnson confessed to the stabbings because of his Muslim faith. Johnson once attended Dwyer High School before being withdrawn, police said.

The investigation began early Monday when police responded to a report of a stabbing at 334 Sunset Bay Lane just before 6 a.m.

"She said somebody attacked her. But you gotta get someone here quick. I called Ballenisles but they’re not here yet," said a neighbor in a 911 call.

Officers arrived and found Eileen Simon and two boys, 13-year-old Jovanni Alexander Sierra and 13-year-old Dane Lucas Bancroft with stab wounds. Jovanni died from a throat laceration and multiple stab wounds, police said. It was his birthday.

Authorities said Johnson barricaded himself inside the home before surrendering to SWAT. A third juvenile, Kyle Bancroft, was found unharmed in the home.

Investigators said Simon woke up to a commotion around 5:45 a.m. on Monday and went upstairs when Johnson confronted her at the top of the stairs. Police said Johnson stabbed her approximately 12 times.

Police said Dane ran to protect his mom when Johnson stabbed him more than 30 times. Dane and his mother ran to a neighbor's house where they called 911.

"She rang my bell she’s bleeding, Corey Johnson is out there with a knife. He’s a murderer. That’s all I know," said the caller.

Dane remains hospitalized. Simon was released Wednesday morning.

According to the police report, Johnson, at 4 a.m., realized everyone was asleep and planned to kill Dane, Elaine and Jovanni in their sleep. He said he felt Dane made fun of his Muslim faith and practices and that Jovanni was idealizing famous people and referred to them as gods which went against his beliefs. He bought the knife used in the attack on Sunday.

Investigators said Johnson admitted to reading from the Quran on his phone just prior to the stabbing attack to give him courage to "carry out his intentions."

Kyle Bancroft told investigators he and Johnson often watched videos about Muslim jihadists on the Internet, most recently the Sunday before the attack.

Johnson appeared in juvenile court Tuesday afternoon amid a heavy presence of law enforcement, reported WPEC reporter Michael Buczyner. The judge ordered him held on one count of murder and two counts of attempted murder.

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