PINELLAS PARK — Her teenage daughter died in the street, she said, less than a half-mile from their home, stabbed in the heart, her blood pooling beside the green minivan.
"She was out with friends. Coming home. I was waiting up for her, just after midnight, when the phone rang," Gay Ludemann said Friday. Ludemann was so close to the crime scene, she got there while paramedics were trying to save her daughter.
"She never got to hear me say, 'I love you, Sarah,' " Ludemann said, sniffling. "I kept saying it, but she never heard."
Two days after Sarah Rose Ludemann, 18, was killed in what police describe as a teenage "love hexagon," Ludemann's mother was struggling to accept that her only child is gone.
She also was trying to plan Sarah's funeral, which is today.
"She was a good girl. A loving girl. My heart is breaking," Ludemann said. "She loved going to the movies, bowling and the beach. She was making straight A's, going to college next year, going to become a nurse."
Sarah was looking forward to going to her senior prom at Pinellas Park High with Joshua Camacho, 19. "They had been together more than a year," Ludemann said. "He was her first boyfriend, her one and only love."
Unemployed, say police reports. "A player," girls told cops. He got a girl pregnant, was dating Sarah before the baby was born, then two-timed on them both — and admitted it.
"My heart goes out to him right now," Ludemann said. She paused.
"But I know he was a big part of the reason Sarah was killed."
• • •
Ludemann didn't know her daughter was going to stop by that house that night.
But this girl, Rachel Marie Wade, had been texting threats to Sarah all day, Camacho told police. The girls had been fighting over him for more than a year, along with the mother of his baby.
Their feud played out in the typical teenage spots: outside a movie theater, in the parking lot of a Taco Bell, at the pizza place where one of them worked. It started with Silly String, escalated to shoving; punches were thrown, car mirrors kicked off. Insults and accusations shot through cyberspace.
So late Tuesday, when Sarah heard that Rachel was hanging with a friend just a few blocks away, she piled two other people into her parents' van and drove to the house on 52nd Street N.
Rachel met her at the driver's side door, witnesses say, with a kitchen knife.
Now, a pretty blond high school scholar is dead.
And a pretty, blond Applebee's waitress — only a year older — waits in the county jail, under $500,000 bail, facing charges of second-degree murder.
Because of a boy.
• • •
Rachel's friends said she was sassy, proud and independent. Police call her a chronic runaway, on her own since she was 15.
At the Applebee's where Rachel worked, other waitresses said they often saw Sarah and some other girls come in to harass Rachel. Just give her a hard time, fling names. "Rachel is just a sweet, sweet girl," said co-worker Ashley DeCosta. "She was so in love with that guy. And she put up with so much."
Rachel had called her that morning from jail. "I don't think it's hit her yet," said DeCosta. "She said she just wanted to come home and take a bubble bath."
• • •
Police reports fill in parts of the story. MySpace messages add other insights. Piece them together and you start to see something brewing.
FEB. 21, 2008, POLICE REPORT: When Sarah and Camacho left the Pinellas Park movie theater, his former girlfriend Erin, who was eight months pregnant with his child, was waiting for them. Camacho yelled at Erin. Erin pushed him.
JUNE 17, 2008, RACHEL'S MYSPACE: When we first met I was madly in love and it lasted for years but since then things have changed. ... You called me names, you slept around. ... I deserve so much better!
JULY 2, 2008, POLICE REPORT: Sarah drives Erin to confront Camacho about him sleeping with them at the same time. Erin's infant — Camacho's child — is in the backseat. Camacho punches Sarah in the face.
JULY 31, 2008, POLICE REPORT: Rachel complains Sarah and some friends are following her, shooting Silly String at the car she is in. Sarah said Rachel's friend bumped her car, so she chased them.
AUG. 31, 2008, POLICE REPORT: Sarah says Rachel called her 20 times in two hours, harassing her about dating Camacho. Rachel says Sarah sent threatening e-mails. Camacho admitted to seeing both girls at the same time.
SEPT 12, 2008, RACHEL'S MYSPACE: I'm an independent chick! Yeah, I got a man. But I'm not one of those spoiled little girls who ... expects the world from her man! ... So yall hoes can just stop hatin ...
For six months, nothing. Then this:
APRIL 13, 2009, RACHEL'S LAST LOGIN: Mood: Lovin my boo :)
APRIL 14, 2009, SARAH'S LAST LOGIN: Mood: iloveyoubaby.
APRIL 15, 2009, POLICE REPORT: Homicide. Suspect in fatal stabbing arrested.