A California quadrupole murder suspect made his first appearance in juvenile court on Thursday.
The 17-year-old entered a not guilty plea before a judge at the Fresno County Juvenile Justice Center on Thursday to four counts of homicide after being charged with the murders of: Billy Bonds, 81, and his 61-year-old son, Darrell as well as Billy’s grandson Matthew, 43, and granddaughter-in-law, Guadalupe, 44, according to the Reedley Police Department.
The family lived next door to the suspect in Reedley, a city located just over 200 miles north of Los Angeles.
The cause of death is not being revealed for any of the victims at this time, but Police Chief Joe Garza said during a news conference earlier this week: “In my 30 plus years of doing this, it’s one of the most heinous crimes that I’ve ever been involved in.”
After the teenage suspect entered his plea the judge declared him a ward of the Fresno County Probation Department, and no longer in the custody of his mother, Bryn Curtis.
The boy’s mother appeared in court to support her son one day after bonding out of jail. Curtis, 34, and her boyfriend, Rafael Gonzalez, 21, were charged as accessories to murder and were arrested at the same time as the suspect, according to Fresno County Sheriff’s Office inmate records.
Our Editor out to prosecutors to see if they would charge the suspect as an adult, and the Fresno County District Attorney’s Office responded by saying: “Pursuant to California law, a minor who is over the age of 16 is only eligible to be transferred to adult court upon order of the Court.”
The teenager does not have legal representation at this time, but the court will be providing the defendant with legal counsel. Curtis and her boyfriend are also without legal counsel at this time and have yet to enter a plea in their cases.
The Reedley Police Department responded to what they believed was a burglary early Saturday morning and arrived at the victims’ home to find “an empty gun safe” from which they believe some individual took “various rifles and pistols,” said Garza at a news conference earlier this week.
Then, as officers searched the yard, they discovered the bodies of Billy and Guadalupe buried in shallow graves under a tarp in the backyard, said Garza.
Officers also found the body of Darrell at that time but there was no sign of Matthew, Garza told the media earlier this week.
Suddenly, the murder investigation also became a search as police declared Matthew a missing person.
On Tuesday, police obtained a warrant to search the teenager’s home, but as soon as they arrived to serve him he fled on foot, said Garza.
Authorities managed to apprehend the boy, and he was taken into custody after officers discovered Matthew’s body in the garage of the suspect’s home. A number of contents that had been kept in the locked safe at the victims’ home were also found in the house, said Garza,
Garza said the investigations continues, and that the motive is unclear, as is whether or not some event may have predated this brutal attack.
“We know there are other people possibly involved in this,” said Chief Garza. “My belief is the 17-year-old did not commit this on his own. So we are actively searching for other suspects, other people with information that may know what occurred, may have direct information on what occurred. And we will not stop our investigation until this investigation comes to a complete closure.”
The teenager is due back in court Feb.15