CBS news reports that best friends have been convicted for a triple murder that happened almost 12 years ago. Very little evidence was found at the crime scene because a fire consumed most of it. On September 17, 2006, the Friedli home burnt down in Pinyon Pines, California.
After the fire died, investigators found the bodies of Vicki Friedli, 55, and her boyfriend, Jon Hayward, 55. The burnt remains of 18-year-old Becky Friedl were found in a wheelbarrow outside the home.
In January 2006, Becky broke up with her boyfriend, Robert Pape. Her father told authorities that Pape was very possessive and his behavior only became worse after Becky began seeing other people. She went to her father’s home three weeks before the murder and said Pape had threatened to kill her.
On the night in question, a friend of Becky told police she said she was planning on going hiking with Pape and his friend, Christian Smith. However, years went by and police were unable to make an arrest in the case because of lack of evidence.
After much media pressure, a grand jury was called and indicted the two men on triple murder charges.
Circumstantial evidence gathered in the case included text messages from Pape to a new girlfriend, offering to "professionally" burn down her ex-boyfriend’s home. Friends of Becky said the two men started fires frequently, burning things other than firewood.
Vicky was shot with a handgun and Jon was killed with a shotgun before the house was set fire. Shotguns similar to the one used in the crime were also found in the homes of the boys a year later. A handgun was never recovered, but accessories for the type used to kill Vicki were found in Pape’s home.
Eight years after they were initially charged, the DA abruptly dismissed all charges against them and released them from prison, citing legal issues during grand jury proceedings.
In 2016, they were arrested again after new evidence was uncovered. A jury found the both guilty of first-degree murder for the deaths of Vicki and Jon. Pape was also convicted of second-degree murder for the death of Becky.
Sentencing is scheduled in August. Pape, now 30, and Smith, now 29, both face life sentences without parole. Their attorneys say they plan to appeal.
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