Crime & Courts

Gang Abduction, Interrogation Led To Teen’s Brutal Murder

This time, though, the system delivers justice …

Far too frequently on this media outlet, our coverage deals with the exposure of systemic, institutional injustices – which regularly makes us a broken record. Of course, that’s not really our fault. It’s the fault of South Carolina’s “injustice” system – which for decades has been rigged in favor of powerful politicians who pick Palmetto State judges (and rigged against the victims of violent crimes).

Our job is to call this corruption out … while at the same time advocating for accountability within the system and reform of its many flaws. And rest assured, we will continue to do that.

Having said that, it’s also important to highlight when the justice system works as it is intended.

That happened last week in Lexington County, South Carolina in the case of 15-year-old Sanaa Amenhotep.

On the evening of April 5, 2021, Amenhotep – a freshman at Richland Northeast high school – was on spring break. She stepped out of the apartment where she lived with her mother – Saleemah Graham-Fleming – to take some pictures near a swing set with her sister.

Her mother never saw her again …

(Click to view)

Saleemah Graham-Fleming with her daughter, the late Sanaa Amenhotep (S.C. Eleventh Circuit Solicitor’s Office)

Amenhotep disappeared after being lured into a vehicle by her “best friend,” Nicolle Sanchez-Peralta. The car in which she was abducted had been stolen earlier that day by Sanchez-Peralta, who was joined in the abduction by her boyfriend, Treveon Nelson, and his friend, Jaylen Wilson.

A planned kidnapping, Amenhotep’s phone was deactivated and discarded by the three murderers – who transported her to a remote, “secluded” location near Leesville, S.C., more than an hour away from where she lived. There, she was brutally beaten by her killers – sustaining multiple fractures, lacerations and internal injuries prior to eventually being shot fourteen times.

Her killers proceeded to bury her body in a shallow grave in a “wooded area” near Leesville. Amenhotep’s remains were eventually discovered more than three weeks later – on April 28, 2021 – following “interviews conducted during the investigation and an extensive search.”

What prompted such a savage slaying?

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During Sanchez-Peralta’s trial, it was revealed the killing was likely motivated by her jealousy of Amenhotep – whom she suspected of having romantic designs on Nelson, her boyfriend. In an effort to take out her perceived rival, Sanchez-Peralta allegedly told Nelson and Wilson – both of whom had gang affiliations – that Amenhotep had given out Nelson’s address to her boyfriend, a member of a rival gang.

This information was allegedly used in a drive-by shooting targeting Nelson that took place in the early morning hours of April 5, 2021.

There was zero evidence Amenhotep provided any such information to anyone, according to prosecutors.

Nonetheless, after implanting this motive in the minds of her boyfriend and his fellow gang-banger, Sanchez-Peralta helped them organize and pull off the kidnapping/ killing – which reportedly involved the extensive torture of Amenhotep during a lengthy “interrogation” by her three murderers.

Why was none of this gang-related information incorporated into mainstream media accounts of this tragedy?

That’s a good question … but until media outlets start calling out underlying gang connections to crimes like these, they are enabling and empowering such conduct moving forward.

(Click to view)

Sanaa Amenhotep (S.C. Eleventh Circuit Solicitor’s Office)

Thankfully, this case has yielded lengthy prison sentences for all three of Amenhotep’s killers.

Nelson and Wilson pleaded guilty to murder, kidnapping, criminal conspiracy and possession of a weapon during the commission of a violent crime for their roles in this horrific slaying.

“The state made no plea offers or plea negotiations in this case,” a statement from the office of S.C. eleventh circuit solicitor Rick Hubbard noted.

Good for Hubbard …

S.C. circuit court judge Debra McCaslin sentenced Nelson and Wilson to sixty years in prison apiece for their crimes. Both of these sentences must be served “day for day,” meaning they must be served “in their entirety” and “do not allow for parole.”

As for Sanchez-Peralta – the ringleader of the conspiracy – she was sentenced to sixty-five years in prison. That sentence must also be served “day for day,” meaning there is no possibility of parole for her, either.

“I’m sending a message,” McCaslin said in announcing these sentences, referring to the scourge of “youth killing our youth.”

(Click to view)

(Via: SCDC)

According to S.C. Department of Corrections (SCDC) records, both Nelson and Wilson arrived at Kirkland Correctional Institution – an SCDC intake center located just north of Columbia, S.C. – last Wednesday (August 30, 2023) to begin their evaluation period in anticipation of a permanent placement within the system.

Sanchez-Peralta arrived at Graham Correctional Institution last Tuesday (August 29, 2023) to begin serving her sentence.

“The abduction and murder of Sanaa Amenhotep shocked the conscience of our community,” Hubbard said in a statement. “A crime of this nature will not be tolerated. This young lady with so much potential and promise was brutally tortured and killed by her peers. Our hearts are with the family of Sanaa and we pray that this conclusion will bring some measure of justice. Her parents, Saleemah Graham Fleming and Sharif Amenhotep, exhausted all efforts to locate Sanaa when she was missing. They have remained steadfast in their pursuit of justice on behalf of their beautiful daughter.”

Amenhotep derives its etymology from ancient Egyptian culture – specifically Amun, the god of air who was later fused with the Sun god Ra. The name means “Amun is pleased,” or alternately “Amun is satisfied.”

In this case, justice was satisfied.

Amenhotep’s murder was prosecuted by Hubbard along with deputy solicitor Suzanne Mayes. In announcing the sentences, Hubbard and Mayes praised Lexington County sheriff Jay Koon, Richland County sheriff Leon Lott and their deputies and investigators for having “worked tirelessly to bring her killers to justice.”

In fact, Koon and Lott deserve special kudos in this case because they persevered in the pursuit of justice even after their agencies were unfairly castigated by some in the community during the initial search for Amenhotep’s body.

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THE RELEASE …

(Via: S.C. Eleventh Circuit Solicitor’s Office)

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR …

Will Folks (Brett Flashnick)

Will Folks is the founding editor of the news outlet you are currently reading. Prior to founding FITSNews, he served as press secretary to the governor of South Carolina. He lives in the Midlands region of the state with his wife and seven children.

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4 comments

G Top fan September 5, 2023 at 7:09 am

Great job investigating and prosecuting, however the sentences are still too lenient. What is wrong with a life sentence? 60 and 65 years only sends the message that the judge isn’t serious about sentencing

Reply
jbl1a September 5, 2023 at 7:54 am

What is wrong with the death penalty? That is the only acceptable sentence for murder. Cold and calculated murder….

Reply
CongareeCatfish Top fan September 5, 2023 at 10:06 am

These adult killers perfectly fit the parameters of a premeditated “first degree” murder, with no mitigating factors. Death penalty should be in play on these cases, not 60 years in an air-conditioned cell with 3 squares a day, exercise, library, visitors, letters from home, and health care at tax payer expense. Granted, they would still probably still live for at least 10 years on death row before execution (and prolly more like 15), but it is more just, and less burdensome on the taxpayers.

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Joy Gammon Top fan September 16, 2023 at 6:59 am

Not a believer of the Death Penalty, believing that it is God’s business and he always gets justice, I am happy they will not be paroled if and when they are old. Whether you are a wealthy Murdaugh and have big-time connections and money, justice must be done in SC. However, I think the Justice system is for two classes of people now and has been for a long time. The people, not the legislators, should elect judges. Too bad the two boys did not have a wealthy Grandfather.

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