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2 Wyoming men facing murder charges in killings of 3 in one family

By Janet DiGiacomo, CNN
updated 10:48 AM EST, Thu March 7, 2013
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Three members of a Wyoming family were shot and killed Saturday morning
  • Two teenage suspects were in court Tuesday and were denied bail on murder charges
  • An affidavit quotes one of the suspects saying the killings happened during a car theft

(CNN) -- Two young men -- both still in their teens -- are facing murder and robbery charges in the shooting deaths of three members of one family, according to Wyoming authorities.

The suspects, Stephen Hammer, 19, and Tanner Vanpelt, 18, both from Cody, Wyoming, were denied bail during a court appearance Tuesday. They are charged with 11 felony counts each in the shooting deaths of 40-year-old Ildiko Freitas and her parents, 69-year-old Janos Volgyesi and 70-year-old Hildegard Volgyesi.

"This is nothing short of cold blooded murder," Park County Sheriff Scott A. Steward said in a weekend statement after the two were arrested.

According to court documents, the suspects told investigators that they went to the victims' home in the small community of Clark, Wyoming, last Saturday morning intending to steal a car and go to Denver.

Authorities said the victims' bodies were found shortly after the killings when neighbors found the family's dog running in the street, returned it to the house and found Volgyesi's body in the garage. The bodies of the two women were found in the house, one in the kitchen and one in the basement.

Other witnesses told deputies that they had seen two men enter the victims' residence and a short time later saw two cars speeding from the house. Witnesses recognized one of the fleeing cars as being that of Freitas and her husband, who was out of town for his work.

The Wyoming State Patrol arrested the two suspects shortly after noon Saturday, after one officer stopped two cars.

According to a sworn affidavit by Park County Sheriff's Lt. Dave Patterson, Hammer explained the shootings in detail to him after waiving his right to remain silent.

Patterson said in the affidavit that Hammer confessed to an earlier gun theft in Cody, and said that he and Vanpelt wanted to flee to Denver because they were afraid of being arrested for the theft.

According to Patterson's affidavit, Hammer said that Freitas was shot in the head during an argument with Vanpelt over the car.

Hammer admitted to shooting Hildegard Volgyesi in the basement because she "surprised " him, according to the affidavit. Hammer said he was sorry for "shooting 'that lady,'" Patterson wrote in the affidavit.

Vanpelt told Patterson that he shot Janos Volgyesi in the back twice, according to the affidavit.

Patterson wrote that he "asked Vanpelt for clarification and asked 'you shot him in the back?' Vanpelt replied yes he had shot him in the back twice, the he wasn't going to just shoot him in the legs." Patterson also wrote that Vanpelt said "they had not planned it to go down this way."

Both suspects told authorities that they hid the guns used in the shootings in the mountains, according to the affidavit. Patterson wrote that Hammer and Vanpelt took deputies to two 9mm pistols that had been hidden in an irrigation tube.

No plea was entered by either defendant during their court appearance Tuesday, according to CNN affiliate KTVQ. Both were assigned public defenders and both are due back in court next week, the station reported.

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