A Study of Gothic Subculture

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Updated 3-12-2009
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Salt Lake Tribune
October 8, 1997
Byline by Stephen Hunt

'Goths' Go on Trial In Friend's Death

As 14-year-old Jens Martin Dietz descended into diabetic shock at a "Goth" party, he became lethargic, disoriented, vomited and finally fell unconscious. He died March 10 after teen-age partyers placed him in a nearby car. The death was not reported to West Valley City until the following night.

Last week, the 14-year-old boy who hosted the party and a 15-year-old who was Dietz's best friend were tried on charges of negligent homicide and failure to report a dead body during closed-door sessions in 3rd District Juvenile Court. Judge Robert Yeates is expected to deliver a verdict Oct. 17. The trial was closed to the public. [The boys were only guilty of failing to report a dead body. The next article has details on the verdict.]

The case focuses attention on the Goth culture in which a fascination with death and vampires prompts teens to dress in black, paint their faces white and their lips black. Dietz was not a Goth, but his 15-year-old friend was, according to the dead boy's mother, Brenda Patterson. Goths were among the six to eight teens, ages 13 to 15, who took LSD, smoked marijuana and drank alcohol at the party, police said.

The victim had run away from home twice before, and essentially did so again on March 6 when he called his mother to report he would not be home for a few days. He said he was staying with friends and had enough insulin. But Dietz, who required three insulin injections a day, apparently ran out the following morning. By that night, he was getting sick, according to police. Dietz reportedly spent the third day lying in a corner, facing the wall. Only Dietz's 15-year-old friend knew Dietz was diabetic. At one point, the teens tried to give the victim punch and cookie dough. But that night he became unconscious. The teens said they did not call police or a doctor because they do not trust the police and they feared Dietz would be sent to a detention center for running away from home. Dietz had told the group he had no place to stay. On the fourth day, the host's mother sent everyone home. Two boys dragged Dietz outside to a disabled car in the 14-year-old's garage. Dietz apparently died in the early hours of March 10. That evening, the two boys and several other teens performed a howling ritual meant to "open the portals of the spirit world to allow Dietz's entry," police said. They also discussed dismembering and burying the body. In the end, they simply went home. The death was reported on March 11 after a girl who attended the party told her 21-year-old sister.