Why Would Five Teens Gang-Rape a Friend? Check Facebook

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By the time the kids allowed Jessica to leave, barefoot and slipping in and out of consciousness, Patricia Montes' last status update had already materialized on Facebook. "You're a hoe," wrote the blond 15-year-old, who would soon face charges of capital sexual battery. "Stop trynna act like a saint."

Six blocks south of South Broward High School, a knock sounded at the door of a garage apartment behind an atrophying complex of one-bedroom units. A blond head anchored by a pair of sapphire eyes poked through the barely opened doorway. It was Patricia Montes. She smiled widely, revealing slightly crooked teeth that she's insecure about and would never dare flash in a picture.

A stud pierced Patricia's lower right lip, which offered a jarring contrast to an otherwise innocent appearance. She looked like a teenybopper, a babysitter, someone who, if the conditions were different, could climb into a Brownie's sash and start selling Thin Mints. She cocked her head, and her mother appeared at her side.

Patricia Dalecky is from Queens but has lived in Hollywood for two decades. The heavily tattooed mother of four has long, stringy dark hair, darkening teeth, and, as her Facebook pictures show, an apparent fondness for cheap beer. She stood before her daughter, who suddenly hitched up her shirt to show midriff and a bellybutton ring. A baby wailed from inside the cloistered garage.

"How did you find us?" Dalecky asked a New Times reporter, declining to discuss Patricia, who had just gotten out on $100,000 bail following her arrest. "No one's been able to find us since we left our old place. It doesn't matter anyway; we'll be leaving this place soon."

Transience is a defining aspect of nearly every kid who found his or her way into that yellow house that night, interviews and public records illustrate. With parents in and out of prison and households splintered by domestic violence and drug abuse, the teenagers have spent much of their short lives hopscotching through residences across southern Hollywood, where annual household income hovers between $28,000 and $35,000 and the only way to combat boredom, says one high school friend, "is to get in fights and get fucked up."

It's unclear when, precisely, Erica Avery and Patricia Montes started getting fucked up, but it was both early and under unsupervised circumstances.

Throughout most of Erica's teenaged years, she was unmoored and without a steady home or parenting, three separate friends say. Her mom has long had trouble finding work, so Erica split time between her godfather's house and another friend's place nearby on Johnson Street, recalls pal Angie Morales. Erica, who has rounder features than Patricia, was different when she was younger. Sweeter, Morales says. Less given to emotion.

She and Morales, slight and wavy-haired, would spend days wandering malls in Aventura or Pembroke Pines or lying out at beaches in Hollywood or Fort Lauderdale. Erica was always "the good one," says Morales, 19. "For instance, when I was smoking weed or drinking, she wouldn't smoke or drink with me. I would fight girls, but she was scared to. She was never the fighter type."

But the next year, Morales says she "went away for a bit after getting in some trouble," and when she returned, Erica had changed. Her innocence had evaporated. "One time Erica got into a fight with this one girl right down the street, and I ended up leaving because the cops were about to be called," Morales claims.

During Erica's freshman year at South Broward High, she met a girl with whom she had an immediate connection. Patricia Montes was "the sweetest girl I've ever met," one classmate says. According to several friends, Patricia's family was closer than Erica's. Though Patricia's mom and dad didn't live together, both were a big part of her life, and neither has a criminal record in Florida.

Still, despite that small modicum of stability, there was a wildness about Patricia. She represented a confounding mixture of generosity — like the time she bought a friend pizza and ice cream and the two spent hours discussing dreams and summer plans — and discomfort with her identity. "I had science class with her," explains one student. "She looked straight but was trying to act all bad. She tried to act how she wasn't. She was more of a schoolgirl but started hanging with the wrong people."

The "wrong people" included Erica Avery. Erica was arrested in 2012 for grand theft auto after Hollywood Police caught her in the driver's seat of a Nissan that had been lifted from a YMCA parking lot. Police say she and another friend had intended to sell it at a chop shop. "Avery admitted knowledge of the vehicle being stolen," the incident report says. Avery had just turned 15 — barely old enough for a learner's permit — and wasn't formally charged.

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Terrence McCoy