Niagara Gazette

Local News

December 21, 2013

TOP STORIES (10): Prison sentences, memorial mark end of Isabella Tennant murder case

Niagara Gazette — In 2012, it was a crime that left Falls residents shaken by its randomness and brutality.

By the end of 2013, the two teens accused of killing 5-year-old Isabella Tennant, and leaving her body in a trash bag buried in a garbage can in the 500 block alley of Third Street, had received justice.

For the admitted killer, John Freeman Jr., it was a sentence of 22 years to life in prison for his guilty plea to charges of second-degree murder and tampering with physical evidence.

Tyler Best, Freeman’s best friend, who helped him dispose of Tennant’s body, but then led frantic police investigators to her remains, was judged to be a “youthful offender” and sentenced to concurrent prison terms of 16 months to four years on an evidence tampering charge and 12 months to three years on a charge of hindering prosecution. 

He may soon be eligible for release and parole.

Even with the guilty pleas by Freeman and Best and their prison sentences, the end of the case did little to explain why the killing happened. Nor did it give much comfort to Tennant’s fractured family.

In a letter from Isabella’s father, read in court at Freeman’s sentencing, the irreplaceable loss of a child was apparent.

“I’m truly sorry I couldn’t muster the strength to be in a room with the disgusting animal who strangled a 5-year-old girl,” Isabella’s father wrote. “This disgusting animal killed my daughter. There is not one second I am not in pain. Freeman, do yourself a favor and hope you die before you see the light of day. I will be watching and waiting for you.”

Prosecutors in the case said they desperately looked for a motive for the murder, wondering if Freeman had, perhaps, tried to sexually assault the child and accidentally killed her.

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