Attack shocks Rains County community
16-year-old girl, three others held in murders of her mother, two brothers
March 3, 2008 - EMORY, Texas (AP) -- Angry that her parents demanded she break up with her boyfriend, a teenage girl helped kill her mother and two brothers during a grisly weekend ambush at the family's rural wooded home, authorities said Sunday.
The 16-year-old girl joined her boyfriend and two others in shooting and stabbing members of the Caffey family in their bedrooms before setting the house on fire, authorities said, confirming what most in this small 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 was able to drag his bloodied body through the woods in search of help.
Killed were Penny Caffey, 37, and sons Tyler, 8, and Mathew, 13.
''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,'' Traylor said, ''which led to the crime that was committed.''
Terry Caffey remains at East Texas Medical Center in nearby Tyler. He was last reported in critical but stable condition late Sunday, but the family has since asked the hospital to release no additional information.
At Rains High School, a steady rain fell as counselors inside were available to grieving students. Three of the four suspects arrested and charged with capital murder, including the Caffeys' daughter and her boyfriend, attended the school.
''These were students who had not been in trouble a great deal,'' Rains school district superintendent David Seago said just after classes started Monday. ''Maybe some tardies and absences, but that's it.''
Seago said the daughter, who police are not identifying because of her age, had enrolled in the school just six weeks earlier. Classmates and Emory residents have said the girl previously had been homeschooled.
The other Rains students arrested were Charlie James Wilkinson, the girl's 19-year-old boyfriend, and Bobbi Gale Johnson, 18. Charles Allen Waid, 20, was also arrested.
Each was charged with three counts of capital murder and is being held on $1.5 million bond.
Waid, Johnson and Wilkinson were being held in Rains County jail. The Caffeys' daughter was being held in a juvenile detention center in neighboring Hunt County. It was unclear Monday whether they had attorneys.
''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 killings have gripped everyone and everything in Emory, from church services Sunday morning to conversations at small cafes along the two-lane road running through this town of just 1,500.
Residents described the Caffeys as deeply religious and kind-hearted. The family performed as the house musicians at their small Baptist church near one of the town's few intersections.
Classmates of the girl and Wilkinson described them as inseparable and with few other friends on campus. Many were especially stunned by the arrest of Johnson, widely described as a good student active in theater at Rains.
Jennifer McClanahan, a senior at Rains, said she heard Wilkinson complain to their English teacher last week that his girlfriend's father had hacked into his MySpace page.
The attack occurred on about 20 acres of pine-canopied, remote land in Alba along a narrow gravel road with just two other homes. The area is so secluded that even the closest neighbors reported only faintly hearing what sounded like 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.
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 attack began, Traylor said. Penny Caffey and Mathew suffered gunshots and stab wounds; the youngest, Tyler, was stabbed, authorities said.