Wednesday, January 14, 2009

CAFFEY FAMILY MURDERS- Erin Caffey & Bobbi Johnson Sentenced

Photo: The Caffey Family - left to right Matthew, Terry, Tyler,
Penny and Erin

An American family, Terry and Penny Caffey were devout people raising their family in Alba, Texas, 70 miles east of Dallas. Each day was like the previous, with work, prayer and schooling, with dreams and wishes for the future. Then one day their future went up in smoke and ashes, literally. Their dreams exploded with the first, and succeeding gun shots and sword thrusts.

A teenager with murder on her mind was the catalyst of those explosions.

Terry Caffey worked delivering medical equipment in home health care, but he was also following his dream. Terry preached a few sermons at the Miracle Faith Baptist Church where the Caffey family attended services. He was on the threshold of being ordained a Baptist Minister and was looking forward to minstering to others. His ordeal has left him extremely saddened and bereft of his family, but his faith has remained strong throughout, enabling him to forgive those who callously ripped his family from their very lives, and from him.

Penny, an accomplished seamstress, was a substitute driver for a local charity, delivering meals to the elderly and indigent. She enjoyed singing in a gospel singing group "The Gaston Singers" that performed at area churches and was also her church's pianist. Gaston "They were like family to me. The best people you could imagine." Penny's friends enjoyed her cooking and she would bring food to church for after Sunday services fellowship. Jeanie Dunlap, a friend of Penny's "Unless she was sick, she didn't miss one service." Penny's family was her pride and joy. She also shared with Terry a strong religious faith.

Matthew, 13, (nicknamed Bubba) played harmonica and bass guitar at the church and Tyler, 8, (who loved chocolate milk) would accompany his brother. Their sister Erin, 16, sometimes sang with her mother or performed solos in church. Many said she had a beautiful voice.

Prior to their move to the Alba area, the family had lived near Point, and Erin attended public school from first to seventh (7th) grade in the nearby town of Celeste. For about a year after moving to Alba, the children were homeschooled, but in Erin's freshman year (9th grade) of school, she and her brothers were allowed to attend the local schools. In a town like Alba, school consists of children where everybody is either related to, or friends with, each other and usually everbody knows everyone else's business too.

For six months the children attended the school, and during this time Matthew and Tyler made many friend among their own classmates in their respective grades. Freshman Erin Caffey, age 16, met in particular, Charles James Wilkinson age 19, Charles Allan Waid, age 20, and Bobbi Gale Johnson, age 18. These four became a clique apart from other teens, spending a lot of time together.

Erin Caffey was in the throes of young love. She was seen often holding hands in the hallways or sneaking out with Charlie Wilkinson out of the school to lock lips. Even though her parents disapproved of him, Wilkinson began showing up at church services where he and Erin would stay apart from everyone and hold hands. Churchgoers knew there was friction between Erin and her parents over Charlie but most chalked it up to "puppy love and the usual teenage stuff." Carl Johnson, friend of the family "(The parents) didn't like the boy and were trying to break them up. They told me at church they didn't have any use for him."

Pastor's wife Rebecca McGahee "That's not the girl we knew, it's just not." "We had all talked to her about this boyfriend and told her, 'Don't get swindled into something you're not ready for.' But we were thinking sex; we weren't thinking murder." Whenever she was pressed with concerns her parents had about Charlie's "possessive nature, drinking and fondness for camouflage pants" Erin would reply with "I know. I'm confused. I want to please my parents, but I like him."

The sixteen year old was so "confused" she actively sought a way to get rid of her parents so she could be "together forever" with Charlie, without any interference from anyone.

Charles Wilkinson & Erin Caffey photo.

Charles Wilkinson was a senior in high school and had plans to enter the military once he had graduated. He'd already completed an Army pre-boot camp the previous summer. Charlie is described as having a fondness for oversized cowboy hats. Former classmates state "Charles was manipulative. He would convince teachers not to write him up. If he needed money or a ride, he would get it. He had that talent." Others said "He was nice, but weird." Others said he was quick to anger.

Teachers considered him to be a good student, tardy occasionally, a few absences, but not a disciplinary problem. He did however, have to be constantly told to remove his cowboy hat. Jennifer McClanahan, a friend of Charlie's since kindergarten "That's Charlie. He would start an argument over something like a hat."
Charles Wilkinson would never serve in the Army, an organization with exemplary ideals far above what Charlie would exhibit towards the Caffey family.

Charles Waid at 20 had graduated and was married to, but separated from "Diane." He was in the middle of a divorce and wanted custody of his 5 month old child. Charles was hoping to gain custody, but he needed $2,000.00 for legal fees. His new girlfriend was Bobbi Johnson, who worked down at the local Diary Queen. A friend of Bobbi's stated "He was nice, he treated her well, but we never saw her." Diane Waid, his estranged wife described Charles as "loving children" and coming from a strong christian family."

Charles Waid, who "loved children" was a primary participant in a horrific crime against two children and two adults.

Eighteen (18) year old Bobbi Gale Johnson was also in love. She'd do anything for Charles Waid. Her teachers considered her "bright, intelligent and articulate." "She seemed to have a very strong sense of right and wrong, a very srong, moral value system." Bobbi was a cheerful girl who was active in school theater and was liked by many. "I don't know anybody who didn't get along with Bobbi." Once she hooked up with Waid, that all changed.

All her friends said that she started skipping out on them. "All she wanted to do was hang out with him. He was nice, he treated her well, but we never saw her." "She wouldn't come to school a lot and would miss three days out of the week." Bobbi began disappearing from classes as well as from her friends' company. Co-workers at the DQ "She changed so much when she got with him. It's just not the Bobbi we knew."

Bobbi's myspace page stated "I LOVE CHARLES ALLEN WAID!!!!!!." She also wrote "i like to have fun and hang with my friends...pretty much most of the time im a happy person who likes to make people laugh...or just laugh period...and i love the guys..." Bobbi also liked "scary as hell horror movies, because they were so fun to watch."

Bobbi Gale Johnson, who others thought had a very strong sense of right and wrong participated in an event that far surpassed her favorite horror movies. This event was very real, scary and horrific in intensity for the victims. Even though all she did was drive a vehicle, and sit and wait while the crimes were committed, she's as culpable because she did nothing to warn someone, or to stop it.

Terry and Penny were having continuous arguments with Erin over Charlie. They definitely weren't as thrilled with Charles Wilkinson as she was. Mainly their objections centered around the age difference, but his drinking and seeming "control" over Erin didn't fit with their lifestyle and beliefs.

Terry Caffey's father, Erin's grandfather, passed away and as the family attended his funeral, Erin Caffey was already plotting murder. For about a month she talked about killing her parents with her friends, especially her boyfriend Charles and Charles Waid. But that's all it amounted to, talk. Bobbi is fired for excessive absenteeism.

For another two weeks Erin continues fighting with her parents. They've taken her cell phone away and still object to her relationship with Charlie. Then came the Thursday night Terry and Penny forbid her to see him. They expressly told Charles Wilkinson that he and Erin were to break up their relationship.

Police report "Wilkinson stated that Erin Caffey wanted her parents dead because they would not let her see Wilkinson and they even took away her cell phone. The discussion to kill Erin's parents had been ongoing for about a month." "Erin, Wilkinson and Waid had several conversations on how to kill her parents."

Erin Caffey wanted to be with Charles Wilkinson, and wouldn't take no for an answer. When her parents insisted they break up, she got mad. Killing mad.

Charlie Wilkinson "Erin and I were in love and the only way we could be together was to kill the parents."

The very next night, Friday night, the dog sensed the two figures shouldn't be at the house in the darkness and he barked to warn his family. Charles Wilkinson and Charles Waid crept up to the house, but the dog wouldn't shut up. There was no way they were going in there with Terry awake. So they returned to the car where Bobbi Johnson waited. Erin called them and told them to give her time to quiet the dog, and to return in about an hour. When they came back to the property, Erin was waiting for them at the end of the long drive. She got into the car and they parked a bit farther down the road and discussed how to do the "job."

Charles Waid "It was decided to just walk in there and take care of "business." "I was offered $2,000 to help kill the Caffeys." Charles Waid was willing to kill two children and two adults in order to gain custody of his own child.

Again the two returned to the house. Wilkinson entered the master bedroom and shot at Penny Caffey. Terry Caffey awoke to the gunshots and to recognize Charles Wilkinson standing in the bedroom and heard "Charlie!" being yelled. Terry put his arm up to shield himself and was shot several times. Police report "Wilkinson said he fired a .22-caliber handgun at Mrs. Caffey several times, but did not kill her. He then handed the weapon to Mr. Waid, who fired several more times at the man and wife."

Matthew and Tyler came running down from the loft where they slept when they heard the shots. Charles Wilkinson told them to go back to bed. Police report "Mr. Wilkinson told them to return to their beds in the loft. The two men followed the children upstairs. Mr. Waid shot 13-year-old Matthew in the head or neck, records show, and both men stabbed 8-year-old Tyler with a sword."

Charles Waid, who's wife claimed "he loved children" shot 13 year old Matthew. Then he pulled out a sword his wife had given him as a present, and used it to stab 8 year old Tyler multiple times. He handed it to Wilkinson who also stabbed the child.

At this point, Waid and Wilkinson thought their mission was accomplished and that the family was dead.

After they'd "killed" the family. They rifled through the bedroom and took money from Terry's wallet and jewelry Erin had told them about. Waid and Wilkinson went to the bathroom laundry room and Wilkinson used the combination Erin had given him to open a small lock box to retrieve the cash inside. They picked up Erin's purse and bag she'd packed and had told them not to forget.

Then Waid and Wilkinson used hand held lighters to set fire to bedspreads, food items, laundry and furniture to cover up their crimes. The two males ran out to the car. Flames could be seen rising from the house as they sped away. It's likely they whooped and hollered as they drove off down the road and filled Erin and Bobbi in on the gory details.

While they were driving away, Terry Caffey, bloodied, shot in the head, shoulder and chest and twice in the back, roused himself. He knew his family was dead and the flames were increasing in intensity. If he didn't get out to get help he'd die. There were only three houses in this remote location, and Terry dragged himself out of the burning house and crawled determinedly across 300 yards of dirt and scrubby grass to his nearest neighbor's porch. Tommy Gaston found him there and called 911.

Gaston's 911 call - audio & photos of crime scene.

The four murderous conspirators decided to drive around for awhile. Later Erin and Charles Wilkinson were dropped off at Charlie Waid's trailer. There, he and Erin had sex in celebration. It is early Saturday morning.

The house was engulfed with flames by the time first responders, firefighters and police arrived. A few minutes later, the medical supply van with oxygen tanks caught fire and exploded. At Tommy Gaston's house, Terry Caffey, though bleeding profusely, was still conscious and he told police the name of their assailant. Charlie Wilkinson. At the time both Terry and the police thought that Erin had also been inside the house and killed with the other family members. John Wright living about a half a mile from the Caffey's "I was awakened by a loud boom at about 4:30 A.M."

The Caffey home burned, the flames and smoke killing Penny, Tyler and Matthew and rendering their bodies unrecognizable.

Photos; The family labrador guards the property of Terry and Penny Caffey.

The next morning, a Sunday, when the family would normally be in church, Terry Caffey was undergoing surgery to remove a bullet in his head. Diane Dunlap stated "Terry has complained of hearing gunshots when he's conscious."

Authorities drove to Waid's trailer and found Charles Wilkinson inside, two guns beside him.

Charles James "Charlie" Wilkinson booking photo.

Charles Wilkinson was arrested and taken down to the jail for interrogation. He quickly confessed. Arrest affidavit.

Charles Waid was located and arrested.
Charles Allan Waid booking photo.

Then Bobbi Johnson was arrested.

Bobbi Gale Johnson booking photo.

Both Charles Waid and Bobbi Johnson quickly confessed to their part in the crimes.

A deputy went back to Waid's trailer and while there found Erin Caffey, curled in a fetal position, hidden under a pile of clothing and stuffed animals.

Erin Caffey booking photos.

She told the deputy that "I was asleep and awoke to two people yelling at me to get on the floor." She also told him she remembered "fire but nothing else." Erin was also arrested. Authorities recovered a rifle, and a pistol, two swords " and a condom. Bond for all of them was set at $1.5 million, $500,000 for each charge of capital murder.

Rains County Sherrif David Traylor "Three arrests were made within an hour and a half of the murders, and another came in the early afternoon. 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." "One small caliber gun and one knife were used in the attack."

Traylor stated "Penny Caffey and Matthew suffered gunshots and stab wounds; the youngest, Tyler, had only stab wounds."

Matthew's friends and fellow students cried in disbelief and the community cried with them, stunned at the killings, and at who had committed them.

Jennifer McClanahan "Last week in English, Charlie was scolded by the teacher for being on the computer. Charlie was like "My girlfriend's dad hacked into my myspace. He told that to the teacher." Jennifer was asked "Do you think Wilkinson could do something this horrible?" She replied "Yes. If he wanted to be with Erin, there is no telling." It was determined that Terry Caffey had not hacked into Wilkinson's myspace page.

Justice of the Peace Don Smith "Preliminary autopsy reports show "all three suffered from smoke inhalation, which means they were still breathing when the house was on fire."

After hearings in the case in which the death penalty was on the table, both Charles Wilkinson and Charles Waid pled guilty to capital murder. Erin Caffey was determined to be an adult and scheduled for trial as was Bobbi Johnson.

November 2008 - Charles "Charlie" James Wilkinson, age 19, pled guilty - Sentence: Life in prison without parole.

November 2008 - Charles Allan Waid, age 20, pled guilty - Sentence: Life in prison without parole.

Terry Caffey victim impact statement

January 2, 2009 - Preliminary trial hearing: Bobbi Gale Johnson, age 18, pled guilty to being an accomplice who did not use a weapon. Sentence: 40 years in prison. Johnson may be eligible for parole in 20 years.

Photo: Bobbi Gale Johnson at sentencing.

January 2, 2009 - Preliminary trial hearing: Erin Caffey, age 17, pled guilty to capital murder. Sentence: Two life sentences with an additional 25 year sentence.

Photo: Terry Caffey with Erin Caffey at sentencing.

Rains County Attorney Robert Vititow "As for Erin Caffey, two life sentences, will she ever parole out? I can't answer that. And if she did, she would still have another 25 year sentence to serve and so the odds are that she may never get out."

So begins another, at least to them, unforseen chapter in their lives. Without thinking of the consequences to others or to themselves, they are justly reaping what they sowed.