Transgender Teenager Who Plotted Colorado School And Church Shootings Sentenced To 6 Years In Prison

A transgender teenager has been sentenced to six years in prison after threatening to carry out a mass attack at three schools and a church in Colorado Springs, Colorado. William Whitworth, 19, was originally charged with two counts of attempted first degree murder in April of 2023 after officers uncovered a manifesto detailing his plans to target the public.

William Whitworth, who uses she/her pronouns and also goes by the names “Lily” or “Lilly,” was first arrested on March 31 of last year after a concerned family member called the Elbert County Sheriff’s Office. Police visited Whitworth’s address after his sister, Melissa Whitworth-Mathes, called and informed police that he was punching walls and making references to school shootings.

One of the texts Whitworth sent his sister read: “How clear do I have to make it. I’m going to walk into Timberview Middle School with an AR.”

Police quickly arrived to Whitworth’s home and found him living in squalor. Deputy notes reveal that there were numerous containers filled with moldy, half-eaten food and numerous alcoholic beverage containers laying around the house. There was also “trash piled up all around the house to the point where it made it hard to walk inside.”

Upon searching the home police discovered a “manifesto” which included the names of several school shooters, as well as additional drawings and floorplans of schools.

There were also photos describing a make-shift bomb and detonation device. While speaking to police, Whitworth stated he had gone onto YouTube to learn how to make a detonator for a bomb. Contained within Whitworth’s notebook was also a list of firearms with 3D printing instructions, and a list of political personalities, including commentator Lauren Southern and former US president Donald Trump, with derogatory comments.

Investigators determined that there were three schools Whitworth had intended to target, including Timberview Middle School, Prairie Hills Elementary, and Pine Creek High School. He previously attended Timberview Middle School. There were also names of other targets, including local churches and police stations.

Once arrested, Whitworth confessed to his plan and told the deputies he watched a YouTube video on how to make the detonator. When asked why he intended to target his previous middle school, he said he had “no specific reason.”

Initially, Whitworth was booked and held on a $75,000 bond, but while in jail, Whitworth reportedly told a prison official that he still wanted to carry out his plans if bonded out. As a result, his bond was increased to $750,000 in order to make it more difficult for him to leave pretrial detention.

In the press release detailing the plea agreement from the Office of the 18th Judicial District Attorney, Whitworth was referred to using “they/them” pronouns.

Whitworth accepted a plea deal but still could have faced up to 16 years in prison. During his sentencing at Elbert County Courthouse on January 30, he barely spoke but told the court: “I was in too deep, way too deep. The choices I’ve made, I regret.”

His lawyers sought a non-custodial sentence, asking Judge Theresa Slade to only give Whitworth probation so that he could attend rehabilitation for alcohol dependency. They argued sending him to jail would be harmful to his recovery and overall mental health. Judge Slade delayed sentencing to give the defense an opportunity to build their case for a probation-only sentence. 

But despite the time extension, Judge Slade ultimately disagreed, sentencing Whitworth to six years in prison. The term is still considerably less than the maximum of 16 years he could have received. Judge Slade decided that a prison sentence was the only way to “ensure a sense of security” among the community.

The prison sentence will be followed by three years of mandatory parole. Whitworth was charged under his birth name William. However, documents from Elbert County Sheriff’s Office refer to him as “Lilly” and use “she/her” pronouns. He is currently awaiting transfer to a correctional facility from the county jail, but the name of the facility has not yet been released. He is booked as a “male.”

District Attorney John Kellner acknowledged the courage it took for Whitworth’s family members to come forward and report his disconcerting behavior to authorities.

“In this case, a family member had the courage and strength to pick up the phone and call for help. I encourage everyone when it comes to school security, if you see something concerning to report it right away. That call may save lives.”

Whitworth’s sister, who reported him to police, told the media: “We are also victims in the cases against Lily, and are struggling to come to terms with what has happened and what we had to do to protect the public.”

Christopher Whitworh, the teen’s father, urged the court earlier this month to release him on probation.

“I know Lily is capable of some amazing things if just given a chance,” he pleaded with the court. “Lily has seen a host of people back in Texas waiting to help them, love them, support them, show them something better to come home to.”

It is currently unclear where Whitworth will be held after being moved out of the county jail. However, Colorado is set to become the first state to provide trans-identified males with their own separate unit as opposed to housing them in a male or female prison.

This decision came after Colorado Department of Corrections reached a $2.1 million settlement with 170 trans-identified males who launched a a class action lawsuit in 2019 after claiming they had not been protected in male prisons or provided “gender-affirming” treatment.

The proposal is still under review by the court but, if approved, the state would have until January of 2025 to implement all of the conditions of the settlement. Currently, the state reviews transgender inmates on a case-by-case basis to decide which unit to house them in.

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Shay Woulahan

Shay is a writer and social media content creator for Reduxx. She is a proud lesbian activist and feminist who lives in Northern Ireland with her partner and their four-legged, fluffy friends.

Shay Woulahan
Shay Woulahan
Shay is a writer and social media content creator for Reduxx. She is a proud lesbian activist and feminist who lives in Northern Ireland with her partner and their four-legged, fluffy friends.