School Principal Kills Pregnant Teacher

A former middle school principal in Missouri, aged 42, has been sentenced to two consecutive life terms in federal prison for the murder of a pregnant teacher on his staff, who was carrying his child. Cornelius M. Green was handed down the sentence by U.S. District Court Judge Ronnie L. White of the Eastern District of Missouri on Tuesday for the 2016 murders of 30-year-old Jocelyn Peters and her unborn child, Micah Leigh.

Green, who was married at the time of the crime, had confessed to hiring a friend to kill Peters, who was seven months pregnant. He used money stolen from the school where both he and Peters were employed to pay for the murder. In February, Green pleaded guilty to one count each of conspiracy to commit murder-for-hire and murder-for-hire.

Phillip J. Cutler, the friend who committed the murder for $2,500, was also found guilty of the same charges and received a similar sentence of two consecutive life terms in prison. Judge White described the crime as the “most heinous” he had encountered in his career.

Prosecutors revealed that Green had deceived Peters about his marital status, leading her to believe he was in the process of getting a divorce and that she was the only woman in his life. However, evidence indicated that Peters was one of several women Green was involved with. After failing to secretly administer abortion pills to Peters, Green resorted to murder.

Peters was unaware of Green’s other relationships, including at least one other woman who was also being misled by Green into thinking they were building a life together. She was also oblivious to Green’s attempts to secretly poison their unborn child by crushing pills and hiding them in food. When this plan failed, Green turned to his friend Cutler, stealing money from a school dance team’s fundraiser to pay for the murder.

During Tuesday’s sentencing hearing, several people addressed the court. Peters’ mother described Green as her daughter’s executioner rather than her protector. Nicole Conaway, the principal of Mann Elementary when Peters worked there, highlighted the fact that Green had stolen from his own students to finance the murder of his own child.

Court documents revealed that Green had texted Cutler in February 2016, asking him to travel from Oklahoma to Missouri. Green then sent Cutler a UPS package containing $2,500 in cash, using the middle school’s address as the return address. Cutler arrived in St. Louis in March and began staying at the residence where Green lived with his sister.

Green then traveled to Chicago, leaving Cutler with his car and the keys to Peters’ apartment. Prosecutors believe this trip was intended to establish an alibi for the murder. Cutler used the keys to enter Peters’ apartment, where he shot her in the head using a potato as a silencer. Green had asked Peters to buy potatoes days before her murder.

Upon his return to St. Louis, Green repeatedly asked Peters’ mother to check on her, knowing what she would find. Assistant U.S. Attorney Tiffany Becker described the act of asking a mother to discover her daughter’s body as unmatched in its depravity.