A high school couple forced to break up spent a month plotting to kill the girl’s parents before her mother and two younger brothers were fatally shot and stabbed in a weekend ambush, according to records released Monday.
Charlie James Wilkinson, who had been dating Penny and Terry Caffey’s 16-year-old daughter, told police his girlfriend wanted her parents dead because they forbade their relationship, according to Rains County Sheriff Department investigators.
“Wilkinson stated that he and (the girl) were in love and the only way they could be together is to kill the parents,” the arrest affidavit stated.
The daughter, Wilkinson and two others are charged with three counts of capital murder each in the massacre before dawn Saturday at the Caffeys’ secluded home. The girl has not been identified because of her age.
The statements depict a bloody spree that began just around 4 a.m., when Wilkinson and a friend broke into the house and are accused of firing shots at the parents while they slept. Wilkinson and Charles Allen Waid are then accused of going upstairs and fatally shooting 13-year-old Mathew Caffey before stabbing 8-year-old Tyler Caffey with a sword.
Wilkinson and Waid then set fire to furniture and laundry before leaving with the Caffeys’ daughter and Bobbi Gale Johnson, who were waiting in a car parked down the road, according to the affidavit.
The lone survivor was Terry Caffey, the father. He was shot five times and dragged his bloodied body 300 yards to a neighbor’s home. Tommy Gaston, the neighbor, said Monday that Terry Caffey was improving and should recover.
The Caffeys’ daughter is being held on $1.5 million bond. Facing the same charges and bond are Wilkinson, 19, Waid, 20, and Johnson, 18.
Waid, Johnson and Wilkinson are being held in the Rains County jail. The Caffeys’ daughter is being held in neighboring Hunt County’s juvenile detention center. It remained unclear early Monday whether they had attorneys.
The Caffeys’ home was just outside Emory in Alba, about 60 miles northeast of Dallas.
The killings stunned this town of 1,500 in rural East Texas, where the Caffeys were known as deeply religious and kindhearted.
Students back in class
On Monday, students at rural Rains High School returned to classes, still stunned by the weekend attack. Three of the four people arrested, excluding Waid, were students there.
"These were students who had not been in trouble a great deal," school district superintendent David Seago said just after classes started. "Maybe some tardies and absences, but that's it."
Seago said the Caffeys' daughter enrolled just six weeks ago. Classmates and Emory residents have said she was homeschooled before that.
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 described the Caffeys' daughter and Wilkinson 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 the 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 his 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 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.
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."
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."