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Family killed by teenage daughter

Girl's boyfriend, two others helped in murders
March 3, 2008 12:00:00 AM PST
- A weekend ambush left a mother and her two sons dead and the father wounded, a grisly shooting and stabbing attack authorities say was carried out by the family's teenage daughter and the boyfriend her parents disliked. "We feel confident that the motive was the fact that the juvenile daughter and one of the individuals in custody were dating and that the parents were attempting to break the relationship up, which led to the crime that was committed," Rains County Sheriff David Traylor said Sunday.

The 16-year-old girl joined her boyfriend and two others in killing members of the Caffey family in their bedrooms before setting the house on fire, authorities said, confirming what most in this rural farming town had known since the pre-dawn attack Saturday.

The lone survivor was Terry Caffey, the father. He was shot five times - including twice in the back - before he dragged himself through the woods in search of help. He awaited surgery Sunday to remove the bullets, Traylor said, and an update was not available Monday morning.

Killed were Penny Caffey, 37, and sons Tyler, 8, and Mathew, 13.

The girl, who was not identified because of her age, was arraigned Sunday on three counts of capital murder and being held on $1.5 million bond. Charlie James Wilkinson, the girl's 19-year-old boyfriend, and two others, Charles Allen Waid, 20, and Bobbi Gale Johnson, 18, were arraigned on the same charges.

Waid, Johnson and Wilkinson were being held in Rains County jail on $1.5 million bond. The Caffeys' daughter was being held in neighboring Hunt County's juvenile detention center. Traylor said he wasn't aware if they had attorneys yet.

The killings gripped everyone and everything in Emory, from the Sunday morning church services to lunch conversations at small cafes along the two-lane road running through this town of just 1,500.

Classmates of the Caffeys' daughter and Wilkinson described the couple as inseparable and with few other friends on campus. Stunning most here was the arrest of Johnson, who was widely described as a good student active in theater at Rains High School.

Jennifer McClanahan, a senior at Rains, said that Wilkinson had been scolded during her English class last week for being on the computer. Wilkinson, she said, in turn told the teacher that her girlfriend's father had hacked into his MySpace page.

McClanahan and others said Wilkinson was not really a troublemaker, other than constantly being told to remove the cowboy hat he always wore to school.

"That's Charlie," said McClanahan, 17. "He would start an argument over something like a hat."

Carl Johnson, a friend of the family, said the Caffeys moved about two years ago to just outside Emory. He called them good Christians and said he often told the daughter he wanted her soft singing voice to perform at his funeral.

"(The parents) didn't like the boy and were trying to break them up," Johnson said. "They told me at church they didn't have any use for him."

The attack occurred on about 20 acres of pine-canopied, remote land in Alba on a narrow gravel road with just two other homes. The area is so secluded that even the closest neighbors reported only faintly hearing what sound liked thunder early Saturday, and few saw the blaze.

Authorities said that Terry Caffey crawled 300 yards to his closest neighbor to get help, leaving a bloody trail. He was shot in the head, twice in the back and twice near his shoulder, Traylor said.

The Rev. Todd McGahee of Miracle Faith Baptist Church, where the Caffeys worshipped and were the house musicians, wept and struggled to stay composed during his Sunday sermon.

"When I first heard, I was like, I don't even think I would have crawled out of the house," McGahee told his congregation. "But God has a purpose for Terry's life. God has a reason. God gave him the strength to get out."

One gun and one knife were used in the attack, Traylor said. He would not detail which suspects he believed were responsible for which acts, saying only that all four were there at the time.

Police found the daughter hiding in the home of one of the suspects, Traylor said.

The family members were asleep in their bedrooms when the ambush began, Traylor said. Penny Caffey and Mathew suffered gunshots and stab wounds; the youngest, Tyler, had only stab wounds.

On the Caffeys' wooded plot, the family's black Labrador waited in vain by the ashes of the incinerated house and a burned van for his owners to return.

"There's been a change in this church and a change in this community," McGahee told about 80 worshippers. "And we can't just wish it away. ... It will be the same loss, the same hurt tomorrow. There's been that change in our lives."

 

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