Mickey was beaten and buried in a shallow grave...

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Nothing ever happened in West Wendover, Nevada. On 3rd March 2011 the kids at Wendover High School arrived for class and left again at home time.

One of those students was Micaela ‘Mickey’ Costanzo, 16. She had it all – brains and beauty. Micaela was a dedicated student, with a promising future ahead as a writer.

In fact, that day, it was 5.15pm before she headed home after track practice. But she would never make it home.

Her worried mum soon raised the alarm. Police scoured the streets. They wondered if Micaela’s friends had any clues…

Kody Cree Patten, 18, was one of them. The pair had dated a few years back. He told the police that he’d last seen Micaela at 5pm the previous day. School CCTV footage showed Kody talking to Micaela that day, and him wandering the school, repeatedly passing the girls’ locker room while Micaela was at track practice.

Kody also told police that he’d borrowed a friend’s station wagon on the day that Micaela had vanished. But soon, Micaela’s battered body was found, buried under two inches of dirt, on the side of a road.

Tyre tracks nearby were almost identical to the vehicle Kody had borrowed. Kody eventually confessed, telling police he’d taken Micaela into the desert and they’d started arguing.

Kody Patten (Photo: PA Photos)

Kody Patten (Photo: PA Photos)

He’d pushed her down and she’d hit her head on the bumper. He told officers he’d pushed her down a second time, causing her to strike her head on a rock. Kody claimed that Micaela then had a seizure, so he panicked and swung a shovel at her head.

Police thought they had their man – but then Kody’s girlfriend, Toni Collette Fratto, 19, told her story…

Kody's girlfriend Toni Fratto. (Photo: PA Photos)

Kody’s girlfriend Toni Fratto. (Photo: PA Photos)

On the evening of Micaela’s murder, Kody had picked up Toni in the vehicle he’d used to abduct Micaela 90 minutes earlier. They drove into the desert and then Toni hit Micaela in the back of the head with a shovel, and sat on Micaela’s legs while Kody slashed her throat. Sickening.

Toni Fratto had never been in trouble before. It just didn’t make any sense. Weirder still, Toni and Micaela looked so similar – with long, brown, wavy hair and big, piercing eyes.

Had Kody thought the same? Is that what had attracted him to them both? So what had driven one to kill the other?

In April 2012, Toni Collette Fratto pleaded guilty to second-degree murder with a deadly weapon.

She was sentenced to life imprisonment, a consecutive sentence of 20 years, and a fine. She narrowly avoided the death sentence by agreeing to testify against Kody.

The following month, Kody Cree Patten pleaded guilty to first-degree murder with a deadly weapon. He got life without parole for the crime.

So the question remains. Why was Micaela killed?

Did Toni feel threatened by the fact Kody had once dated the pretty and popular Micaela? Did Kody’s attraction to two similar looking girls result in murder? Questions that will no doubt haunt Micaela’s family forever.

 

By Rachel Tompkins