By Tim Ghianni
MEMPHIS, Tennessee (Reuters) - A 17-year-old Memphis boy, charged with first-degree murder in the stabbing death of the principal of the small private school he attended, told police he did not like her and had planned to kill her, police said on Thursday.
Suzette York, 49, was discovered stabbed to death in a classroom at Memphis Junior Academy Wednesday, where she had been principal since 2008.
Investigators said York, who also taught at the school, suffered multiple stab wounds. The killing reportedly occurred around 11 a.m. Wednesday, with police called to the scene about 11:25.
York was pronounced dead at the scene.
Eduardo Marmolejo, an 11th-grader who was among the 64 students at the Seventh-day Adventist-affiliated school, was on the scene when police arrived.
He told investigators he didn't like York and that she had made him angry, according to Sergeant Karen Rudolph, public information officer for the Memphis Police Department.
"Marmolejo further advised that he knew that he was going to be alone with York which would give him the opportunity to kill her," according to the statement released by Rudolph.
Memphis Mayor AC Wharton Jr. was nearby on Wednesday when he heard the reports on the police scanner, so he stopped to see what had happened.
"Our hearts go out to all those involved in this tragic incident," he said.
"Though the city of Memphis has the lowest homicide rate we've had in 30 years, we know we must continue working with our young people and maintaining our focus on youth violence."
Marvin Lowman, communications director for the Seventh-day Adventist Kentucky-Tennessee Conference, headquartered in the Nashville suburb of Goodlettsville, Tennessee, said he knew the slain educator and was "shocked and saddened" by the news.
Memphis Junior Academy is one of 19 church-affiliated schools in the two-state conference, he said.
"You don't expect these kinds of things to happen, especially in a Christian school," he said. "But we're all human, and they do."
He said the school won't be back in session until sometime next week. York has been principal of Memphis Junior Academy since 2008. She taught at the school in the 1990s before going to work in Canada.
She was recruited to return to serve as principal. Among her goals was helping the school -- which until this year had only served kindergarten-through-10th grade -- expand and serve students all the way through 12th grade.
(Writing and reporting by Tim Ghianni; Additional reporting by John Branston; Editing by Mary Wisniewski and Jerry Norton)