Front Page Detectives

Married Middle School Principal Stole from Students to Hire Hitman to Kill His Pregnant Teacher Girlfriend

Missouri Principal Gets Life in Prison for Murdering Pregnant Girlfriend

Cornelius M. Green hired his friend to kill his girlfriend in 2016.

Jul. 2 2024, Published 2:03 p.m. ET

Link to FacebookShare to XShare to FlipboardShare to Email

A former Missouri middle school principal was sentenced to two consecutive life terms in prison for hiring his friend to murder his pregnant girlfriend, who was a teacher, the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of Missouri announced.

Cornelius M. Green, 42, pleaded guilty in February to one count of conspiracy to commit murder-for-hire and one count of murder-for-hire in the 2016 deaths of 30-year-old Jocelyn Peters and her unborn child, Micah Leigh.

Article continues below advertisement

Green was the principal at Carr Lane Visual and Performing Arts Middle School in St. Louis and was married when he was in a relationship with Peters, a teacher at Mann Elementary.

Peters, who believed Green was planning to leave his wife, had already miscarried once and terminated one pregnancy at Green’s urging, but "was determined to keep Micah Leigh," according to a sentencing memo filed by prosecutors.

Peters did not know that Green was seeing multiple women, including one who was also "duped" into believing they were building a life together.

Green was researching ways to induce an abortion by crushing pills and hiding them in Peters' oatmeal or yogurt. When the plan failed, he instead stole money from the dance team’s fundraiser at his school to pay longtime friend Phillip J. Cutler, 46, to murder her.

Article continues below advertisement

“He literally stole from children to pay for killing his own child,” said Nicole Conaway, the principal of Mann Elementary. She said she had to tell Peters’ class about her murder. “I will never forget the pain in their eyes,” she said. “This trauma will follow them for the rest of their lives.”

After planning the murder in a series of phone calls, Green sent Cutler a UPS package containing $2,500 cash on March 7, 2016. Two weeks later, Cutler traveled to St. Louis, while Green traveled to Chicago to establish his alibi.


On March 24, Cutler drove Green’s Kia Optima to Peters’ apartment, where she was working on baby shower invitations, and used Green's key to get in. He shot her in the eye using a potato as a silencer. Green had Peters buy the potatoes used in her own murder days before.

When Green returned to St. Louis, he tried to have Peters' mother go to her apartment to "check on her," but she was unavailable, so he had to "discover" the scene himself, calling 911 to report her death.

Article continues below advertisement

Never miss a story — sign up for the Front Page Detectives newsletter. Be on the scene the moment news breaks.

“The depravity of asking a mother to go find Jocelyn’s body, knowing she was dead, can’t be matched,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Tiffany Becker said during the sentencing hearing.

Cutler was detained on the same night Peters reported the murder, after he returned to the crime scene at Green's direction to retrieve the Kia Optima. When he learned he was being arrested, he ate two pieces of paper from his pocket.

“All she ever did was love him,” Peters' mother, Lacey Peters said during the hearing, “and she loved that baby so much.”

"Jocelyn had a light around her at all times,” and “touched the heart of anyone she came in contact with," said her cousin, Dedra Peters. She said her cousin's death left the family "empty and heartbroken.

“The devastating actions of one depraved individual continue to impact the victims’ family, colleagues, friends and young students,” said St. Louis Circuit Attorney Gabe Gore. “We are grateful for the resources provided by the U.S. Attorney’s office to help bring closure to this heartbreaking case.”

Cutler was convicted by a jury of the same charges in March. He was also sentenced to two consecutive life sentences.

TMX contributed to this report.


Become a Front Page Detective

Sign up to receive breaking
Front Page Detectives
news and exclusive investigations.

More Stories

Opt-out of personalized ads

© Copyright 2024 FRONT PAGE DETECTIVES™️. A DIVISION OF MYSTIFY ENTERTAINMENT NETWORK INC. FRONT PAGE DETECTIVES is a registered trademark. All rights reserved. Registration on or use of this site constitutes acceptance of our Terms of Service, Privacy Policy and Cookies Policy. People may receive compensation for some links to products and services. Offers may be subject to change without notice.