Another teen said to be the victim of child sex trafficking and abuse is facing a grave punishment after allegedly shooting her abuser.
According to the Washington Post, Chrystul Kizer faces life in prison for killing Randy Volar, a man she met when she was 16 and he was 33 years old. According to Chrystul’s testimonies and investigations from detectives, Volar sexually abused Chrystul multiple times and filmed it without her knowing. She was one of many.
Back in February 2018, cops arrested Volar on charges including child sexual assault, but they released him without bail. Volar, who is white, remained free for three months, even after authorities found evidence that he was abusing about a dozen underage Black girls.
Volar was free until Chrystul, then 17, went to his house one evening in June and allegedly shot him in the head twice. Police say she also lit his body on fire and fled in his car. A couple days later, she made a confession and District Attorney Michael Graveley, whose office was aware about the evidence against Volar but held off on prosecuting him, charged Chrystul with arson and first-degree intentional homicide, an offense that carries a mandatory life sentence in Wisconsin. Gravely believes Chrystul’s crimes were premeditated and text message evidence shows that she intended to murder Volar so she could steal his BMW.
Chrystul, now 19, argues that she was defending herself. “I didn’t intentionally try to do this,” she said. Chrystul says that when she told Volar that she didn’t want to do anything sexual that night, he pinned her to the floor. The situation resembles another high profile case involving Cyntoia Brown, who was serving a life sentence for killing and defending herself against a 43-year-old man, Johnny Mitchell Allen, soliciting her for sex when she was only 16. Thanks to the work of activists, a social media campaign, and clemency granted by then-Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam, Cyntoia was released from prison back in August.
Chrystul met Volar in the midst of financial struggle for her and her family. At the end of 2015 Chrystul, her mom, her brother and her two sisters left Indiana and moved to Milwaukee. Her mom, Devore Taylor, was fleeing an abusive boyfriend at the time and she stayed with her kids at a Salvation Army shelter in Milwaukee before finding an apartment.
While Taylor worked shifts at Denny’s, her son started stealing cars while Chrystul began skipping school and hanging with Delane Nelson, her boyfriend who was three years older than her. Soon, Chrystul and Nelson were physically fighting to the point where one witness said they saw Nelson holding Chrystul in a headlock and hitting her “with a stick more than 10 times while dragging her through the parking lot.” Nelson eventually pleaded guilty to a charge of battery and Chrystul stayed with him.
Chrystul met Volar in 2016 after he responded to an ad she had posted on Backpage.com. Chrystul said she needed money for snacks and school notebooks and a girl she knew taught her how to use the site. Volar was the first to respond and she told him she was 19 at the time, although she was 16. Soon she would see Volar every other week as he began to groom her with a new phone, a heart-shaped locket, shopping trips and he gave her money that she could share with her sisters, sometimes $500 at a time. Chrystul thought up excuses to explain the cash and items to her mom. She knew Volar wanted sex in return, but at the time, Chrystul said she didn’t think it was wrong. “He was the only friend that I actually had,” she said. Chrystul even said she believes Volar knew her real age because in the summer of 2017, he invited her to his house to celebrate her 17th birthday.
Soon, Volar became more demanding, especially after he bailed her out of jail when she caught a charge for trying to flee the cops after driving a car her brother stole. Volar made it clear the sex acts he wanted. “I told him that I never wanted to do that,” Chrystul said. “He said that I had to owe him that.” She tried cutting him out of her life by moving in with Nelson, to her mother’s dismay. She said that she told Volar she couldn’t see him anymore because she was getting serious with Nelson. This didn’t make Volar happy. “He had started to talk violent and stuff,” she said. “I was going to stop talking to him, and he said if I did that he was going to kill me.”
Chrystul said she didn’t know about the other girls Volar abused, some of which were caught on camera or via child pornography videos confiscated by cops. Eventually, Chrystul confessed that he would even sell her through Backpage.com to other people. He would drive her to hotels in Milwaukee, where men his age or older would spend 30 minutes with Chrystul and she gave Volar the money she received. Sometimes Volar would have her meet with more than one guy in a day.
In May 2018, Chrystul’s boyfriend, Nelson, started to get suspicious, thinking someone might be following Chrystul. So he gave her a .380 pistol and taught her to shoot it in his backyard. He instructed her to carry it everywhere.
On June 4, after appearing in court for her fleeing charge, she had a fight with Nelson and, worried that he would hit her, Chrystul said she texted Volar to ask if she could come over. At 8:42 p.m. an Uber picked her up and she was carrying the pistol in her purse.
“I had went into the house. … He had ordered some pizza. We were smoking, and he asked me if I wanted to drink any liquor,” Chrystul said. “And then he had gave me this drug. I don’t know what it’s called. And after that, we started to watch movies. … And then, the drug, it made me feel weird or whatever.” She said Volar sat next to her. “He started to touch my leg and then like I had jumped and tell him that I didn’t want to do that. I just thought that I didn’t want to do that stuff anymore because I was trying to change,” she said.
Volar, Chrystul explained, told her what she owed him. “I tried to get up, to get away from him but I had tripped, and I fell on the floor, and he had got on top of me,” she said. “And he was trying to like, rip my pants off, my jeans that I had on. … I was, like, wiggling. Cause once me and [Nelson] had fought, he had tried to pin me down, but I’ll wiggle to get loose.”
Chyrstul said she doesn’t remember going to get the pistol, although, she remembers the sound it made. “Like a pop. A high pop,” she said. “I started to panic.”
Chrystul initially told a different story to detectives on the day she was arrested, saying she didn’t know Volar. She changed up her story a couple times before finally admitting that she was tired of Volar touching her.
“Kizer said that she watches the show Criminal Minds, and she decided to make a fire,” an account of the interview says. “Kizer said she poured red liquor everywhere … grabbed tissue or toilet paper and started the fire.”
Chrystul claims she doesn’t remember the fire. She also said Volar was planning to give her a laptop and a new car for her 18th birthday so that’s why she took them. She explained that she lied to detectives at first because she was scared.
Today, under federal law, all kids who are bought or sold for sex are trafficking victims, regardless of the circumstances. Thirty states and the District have ceased charging minors with prostitution. Most states, including Wisconsin, also have a law that gives sex-trafficking victims an “affirmative defense,” meaning if they can prove at trial that they committed a crime because they were being trafficked, then they can be acquitted of certain charges. Chrystul and her public defense tried to use this law, despite the law never having been used in a homicide or any other violent crime.
In December 2019, in a courtroom that included Chyrstul’s mom and activists defending Chrystul, a judge decided that Chrystul doesn’t have access to the affirmative defense law for trafficking victims. From the judge’s perspective, neither would other trafficking victims charged with violent crimes. Chrystul’s lawyer plans to appeal the ruling, which could delay the jury trial for months. Meanwhile, Chrystul remains in a Wisconsin prison.