Murderpedia

 

 

Juan Ignacio Blanco  

 

home

last updates

MALE murderers

by country

by name   A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
   

FEMALE murderers

by country

by name   A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
 

John CAUDLE

 
 
 
 
 

 

 

 

 
 
 
Classification: Homicide
Characteristics: Juvenile (14) - Parricide
Number of victims: 2
Date of murders: October 26, 2009
Date of arrest: Next day
Date of birth: 1995
Victims profile: Joanne Marlee (Galla) Rinebarger, 34 (his mother) and Tracy Aaron Rinebarger, 38 (his stepfather)
Method of murder: Shooting (22-caliber pistol)
Location: Monte Vista, Rio Grande County, Colorado, USA
Status: Pleads guilty. Sentenced to 22 years in prison on June 8, 2011
 
 

 
 

photo gallery

 
 

 
 

John Caudle, 16, sentenced in slayings of mom, stepdad in 2009

DenverPost.com

June 8, 2011

A 16-year-old Monte Vista boy was sentenced to 22 years in prison Tuesday for killing his stepfather and six years for killing his mother two years ago.

Charged as an adult, John Caudle faced up to 54 years in prison for shooting and killing Joanne and Tracy Rinebarger in their rural Rio Grande County home.

He agreed in March to plead guilty to second-degree murder in the death of his stepfather and reckless manslaughter for killing his mother. Before the plea deal, he faced life in prison.

He received 540 days of credit for time served in isolation in the Rio Grande County Jail since his arrest. Because he pleaded his case down to second-degree murder, the most serious offense, he is eligible to begin his sentence in the Colorado Youthful Offender System.

Court records said he was remanded to the Colorado Department of Corrections.

Caudle, 14 at the time, confessed to the shootings when he was arrested in Park County, more than three hours from his home, the day after the killings in October 2009.

Reached by phone at First Christian Church in Salida Tuesday afternoon, Joanne Rinebarger's mother and Caudle's grandmother, Verla Miller, declined to comment.

"I don't want to talk, thank you," she said politely before hanging up.

Caudle told authorities he shot his mother in a rage after she berated and grounded him for forgetting to bring her a soda she had asked for.

Caudle said he panicked and killed his stepfather. He had shot his mother nine times, then shot his stepfather three times with a 22-caliber pistol.

At the March hearing in which he pleaded guilty, Caudle told Rio Grande County District Judge Martin Gonzales what happened.

"All the negative feelings that I had repressed my whole life came out," he said. "I went to my room and got one of the guns. I came out and started shooting at her.

"I saw my stepfather's truck at the end of the driveway. I was scared because I knew that he would kill me for what I had done.

"I went to the laundry room and hid. He found my mother and ran to her screaming. I shot him. He fell down, but it looked like he was breathing, so I shot him again. I pulled them into their room and shut the door."

Caudle reportedly told investigators he played games on his computer and watched movies that night, then drove his stepfather's truck to school the next day before leaving town to go to his uncle's home in Weld County.

The Rinebargers' bodies were found that day by the mother's father.

James and Cecile Dinsmore, surrogate grandparents who kept Caudle off and on for nine years at their home in Arkansas, told The Denver Post last year that the boy was mentally abused, denied food for punishment and too frequently punished.


Teen sentenced to 22 years for killing stepfather, 6 years for killing mother

By Julia Wilson - AlamosaNews.com

June 8, 2011

DEL NORTE — District Judge Martin Gonzales sentenced Rio Grande teen John Caudle, 16, to 22 years in the Colorado Department of Corrections for the death of his stepfather and six years for the death of his mother yesterday. The two sentences are to be served concurrently and are to be followed by five years of parole.

Caudle was charged as an adult on December 22, 2009 for the October 26, 2009 shooting deaths of his mother, Joanna Galla Rinebarger, 32, and his stepfather, Tracy Rinebarger, 38. Joanna was shot nine times, Tracy two. Both were shot with pistols owned by Tracy.

Caudle was originally charged with two counts of first degree murder, class one felonies; assault in the first degree-serious bodily injury with a deadly weapon, a class three felony; second degree aggravated motor vehicle theft, a class six felony; theft, a class two misdemeanor; violent crime causing death, a sentence enhancer; and two counts of violent crime using a deadly weapon, a sentence enhancer.

Once charged as an adult court sessions were opened to the public and the battle between prosecuting attorneys Dan Edwards of the Attorney General’s Office and Dan McIntyre of the 12th Judicial Districts District Attorney’s Office versus the public defenders Dan Walzl and Amanda Hopkins was the subject of media attention throughout Colorado. The judge presiding over the case was 12th Judicial District Court Judge Martin Gonzales.

On March 23, 2011, arguments about housing, medical experts and psychological experts became moot when Caudle pled guilty to one count of murder in the second degree for the death of Tracy and one count of reckless manslaughter for the death of his mother. A sentence enhancer was added in, one count of a crime of violence. As a result of the plea agreement Caudle could have received a total of 55 years in the Department of Corrections.

A stipulation in the plea agreement was that Caudle would not be eligible to spend any of his jail time in the Youthful Offender System.

At the time of his plea bargain Caudle made his first, and only, public statement about the murders.

“I am sorry,” he said. I know what I did was wrong.”

He said the murder of his mother was the result of anger because of the years of abuse he had suffered at her hands. The murder of Tracy was motivated by his fear of what Tracy would do when he found out about the death of Joanna, he said.

“I hid in the laundry room,” Caudle said at the March 23 plea hearing. “I shot him. He was still alive so I shot him again. I am sorry. I know what I did was wrong.”

After Gonzales sentenced Caudle the defense team, including Guardian Ad Litem Ruth Acheson, was in tears. Caudle was whisked away immediately by Rio Grande Sheriff’s Office deputies.

In her pre-sentencing remarks to the court Hopkins quoted a psychologist who evaluated Caudle as saying it was the worst case of abuse he had ever seen.

“This is a hard day,” Hopkins said. “It’s with a heavy heart we accept this sentence.”

She said since Caudle was charged as an adult the defense team had to consider his opinions.

“No decision was made lightly or without consideration,” she said. “Maybe this case will teach the community not to turn a blind eye to abused children. It takes a village to raise a child and this case has shown me how true this is.”

Walzl also expressed concern for Caudle.

“In my opinion, the system really did fail Caudle in many ways,” Walzl said. “In my opinion, even right up to the end and with all the theatrics, the question was ‘how?’ and it should have been ‘why?”

Everyone was in agreement that Caudle was abused by his mother all his life, and about the failure of the system to help him in spite of repeated reports to social services.

“Why the Colorado Attorney General’s Office sees fit to send a death penalty prosecutor (Dan Edwards) to go after a 14 year old abused boy, subject him to prolonged solitary confinement, and then object to a probation officer’s reasoned sentencing recommendation for YOS is a question Coloradoans want answered” said Kim Dvorchak, executive director for Colorado Juvenile Defender Coalition. “John has already experienced a lifetime of imprisonment through extreme abuse and neglect; he fell through the cracks of the child welfare system and will now tragically land in the general population of an adult prison. This is not justice.”

Edwards said the prosecution took into account the fact that Caudle had been abused; otherwise they would not have considered a plea bargain.

He said he had been a magistrate in juvenile court for five years and was familiar with the prison system.

“He will not be put in with the general population,” Edwards said. “He will be kept separate.”

Gonzales expressed consternation when announcing the sentence.

“What is there for a judge in my position to say,” Gonzales said to Caudle before handing down the sentence. “You have to take responsibility for your actions while your choices keep those responsible (for abusing you) from ever taking responsibility for their actions. You were failed by your mother and a failed system."


Monte Vista teen OKs plea deal in '09 slayings of mom, stepdad

By Jason Blevins - The Denver Post

March 24, 2011

DEL NORTE — John Caudle, the Monte Vista teen accused of killing his mother and stepfather, on Thursday accepted a plea deal that could lock him in prison for 54 years.

Charged as an adult, the 16-year-old Caudle has been in isolation in the Rio Grande County jail since he was arrested Oct. 27, 2009, the day police found the bodies of his mother, Joanne Rinebarger, and her husband, Tracy Rinebarger, in their rural Monte Vista home. Both had been shot repeatedly with a .22-caliber handgun.

In Rio Grande County District Court on Thursday, Caudle admitted he killed his mother and stepfather and asked Judge Martin Gonzales to accept his guilty plea.

"At the time, I felt I had nowhere else to turn," Caudle said. "I know what I did was wrong, and I am truly sorry."

Slumped in a baggy orange jumpsuit, with his hands and legs shackled, Caudle spoke publicly for the first time since he was arrested.

He said his mother — who had a documented history of abusing Caudle in their previous home in Arkansas — was "angrier and meaner than usual" on Oct. 26, 2009.

The boy, then 14, ended up grounded that day. After a fight with his mother over a soda he forgot to bring to her, Caudle said, he snapped when she "continued to yell and insult me.

"I got angry at her. All the negative feelings that I had repressed my whole life came out. I went to my room and got one of the guns. I came out and started shooting at her," he said. "I saw my stepfather's truck at the end of the driveway. I was scared because I knew that he would kill me for what I had done.

"I went to the laundry room and hid. He found my mother and ran to her screaming. I shot him. He fell down, but it looked like he was breathing, so I shot him again. I pulled them into their room and shut the door."

Caudle was driving his stepfather's truck the next day when he was arrested in Park County.

During an interview videotaped at 2 a.m., Caudle told Park County deputies he had killed his parents after verbal abuse and because they withheld food as punishment.

Under the plea deal, the slight teen, who fellow students said sucked his thumb on the school bus, admitted to the second-degree murder of Tracy Rinebarger, 38.

Caudle also pleaded guilty to manslaughter in the death of his 34-year-old mother and to a third mandatory-sentencing charge involving the use of a deadly weapon causing death.

Caudle faces 16 to 54 years in prison, depending on how Gonzales rules.

"This is not a happy occasion," said 12th Judicial District Attorney David Mahonee. "We thought this through a lot."

Mahonee said he would have more to share after sentencing June 6, when the court's gag order in the case dissolves.

Members of the Rinebarger family attended the plea hearing Thursday, filling a side of the courtroom. They declined to comment.

But Mahonee said he had conferred with them.

"They understood," he said. "They were in agreement."


John Caudle: Calculating murderer or battered kid?

By Jason Blevins - The Denver Post

February 26, 2010

DEL NORTE — Two John Caudles emerged in a Rio Grande County District courtroom Thursday.

One, a scrawny 15-year-old, is a battered child, belittled by his mother who called him names and punished him by withholding food and seizing his beloved books. His stepfather called him "faggot," which made his mom laugh.

That Caudle, who still sucks his thumb, "just didn't want to take it anymore."

The other is a calculating killer angry about the chores his mother wanted him to perform. To get even, he hid two guns in his room. He shot his mother nine times and then lay in wait for his stepfather and shot him twice in the head.

That conflicting picture of Caudle emerged at his preliminary hearing Thursday for first-degree murder in the two deaths in October in the family's rural Monte Vista home in south-central Colorado. He is being charged as an adult.

"He said he felt more like a slave than a son," said Delia Malouff, a 16-year-old who testified in Rio Grande District Court about conversations the two had in the Pueblo Youth Detention Center.

Interview tape played

In a police interview played in the courtroom, the teenager told investigators he was done with the chores, the names and the abuse.

"I didn't want to hurt anymore," he said in the interview, taped the day police found the bodies of his mother and stepfather, Joanne and Tracy Rinebarger.

The night before the Oct. 26 killing, Caudle told investigators, he removed two .22-caliber handguns from the home's gun safe, loaded them and stashed them in his room.

Caudle told the investigators he had returned from school on Oct. 26 and "just looked at" his mother. She railed at him about chores. He was already grounded for two weeks for "pitching a fit" about yardwork. She called him names, he said.

"What names?" asked Detective Amy Frank with the Park County Sheriff's Office.

"A-hole. Jackass. Stupid idiot.

Donkey. Dumb," said Caudle, who repeated the words only at Frank's prodding.

He went to his room and retrieved the pistols. He raised the gun toward his mother. He fired.

"I tried to shoot her in the head so she wouldn't feel anything," he told Frank. "She screamed. She kept screaming."

Caudle said his stepfather returned from work an hour later. Tracy Rinebarger walked in the door and saw blood. He screamed his wife's name. Caudle was hiding in the laundry room. When Rinebarger passed the room, Caudle fired.

"I shot him in the back of the head and he was still alive, so I shot him in the front of the head," Caudle said.

Rinebarger was still breathing.

"He wouldn't stop," Caudle said.

So Caudle stuffed his nostrils with ear plugs. Caudle dragged his stepfather's body to the back bedroom and laid him alongside the body of his wife.

Tracy's parents, Ron and Patricia Rinebarger, bowed their heads at this point in the video. Caudle, dressed in jail pants and shackled around the legs and waist, also lowered his head as members of his defense team consoled the teen.

During the several-hour interview that stretched well past midnight the day after the shootings, Caudle occasionally sobbed and embraced his grandmother, Verla Miller of Salida, who huddled motionless in the interview room.

"Do you feel better getting this off your chest?" Frank asked.

"I feel worse," Caudle said.

The defense's "battered child" approach "feeds into self-defense," said Special Deputy District Attorney Dan Edwards of the Colorado Attorney General's Office.

"In order to have self-defense, you have to have the imminent risk of serious bodily injury. There is no evidence of that," Edwards said. "His reasoning was because he was called names. There is no question in this case that this defendant murdered his mother and stepfather with intent after deliberation."

Colorado Bureau of Investigation agent Jodi Wright — under cross examination — described an interview last month with Miller, Caudle's maternal grandmother. Miller told Wright her daughter Joanne was "too strict," was "never fair," yelled often, withheld food from Caudle, "isolated him from other children" and was "very controlling" of her son.

Miller said her grandson "didn't have anyone to turn to."

Rio Grande County Undersheriff Charles Chick testified that he went to the Rinebarger home in early 2006 after Joanne called saying her son was trying to run away. Chick said Caudle told him "he was treated like a slave."

Conversations revealed

Fellow youth-detention resident Malouff went further and said Caudle had told her he was whipped with wire and burned with cigarettes. Prosecutors noted, however, that Caudle also told Malouff lies, including that he had used a shotgun in the killings.

Malouff testified that prosecutors agreed to only charge her as a juvenile rather than an adult in connection with the death of her 7-month-old son in exchange for detailing Caudle's confession to her.

Caudle told investigators that his violent outburst stemmed from his mother's insistence on chores. Yet he said that after he killed his parents, he mopped the floor, threw bloody mop pads into the laundry garbage bin and finished doing laundry. He unloaded his stepfather's 2008 Chevy Silverado pickup before driving it to school the next day. (Later that afternoon, Park County sheriff's deputies picked him up driving erratically as he passed through Fairplay.)

District Judge Martin Gonzales ended the day-long hearing emphasizing that a preliminary hearing was not a mini-trial, but a proceeding to determine whether there is sufficient probable cause to go to trial.

Citing Caudle's admission that he loaded two pistols and stored them in his room the day before the shooting, the "ambush nature" of the killings and the evidence supporting Caudle's confession, Gonzales said he had "no problem" binding Caudle over for trial on nine counts that carry the possibility of life in prison without parole.

"These were violent crimes, there is no doubt about that," said Gonzales, who also declined to set any bail for Caudle, who is being held in the Rio Grande County Jail.


Accused remembered fondly by friends, surrogate kin

By Jason Blevins - The Denver Post

February 26, 2010

DEL NORTE — John Caudle's surrogate grandparents say they never feared the teen, but instead reached out to a child in need of love.

"For the nine years I knew John, there was not a mean bone in his body," said Cecile Dinsmore, who embraced Caudle as one of her own grandchildren during his years in Mountain Home, Ark., in the late 1990s.

"John suffered for almost 15 years with a very abusive mother. Whatever happened was building up. He was a kind, gentle boy. Very intelligent. Very inquisitive. I would welcome him into my home right now."

Caudle is accused of shooting his mother and stepfather, Joanne and Tracy Rinebarger, at their rural Monte Vista home on Oct. 26 last year. He is charged as an adult and faces life in prison if convicted.

Dinsmore said it was not one incident but a lifetime of struggling that triggered Caudle's violent, deadly explosion.

"He would get punished for everything he did. She denied him food. He was never rewarded," she said. "It was like he couldn't take it anymore."

Caudle weighed 97 pounds when he was arrested.

When his mother, then Joanne Galla, overdosed on prescription drugs seven years ago, the Dinsmores took John to Florida for a month. They went to Walt Disney World.

"He was happy with us," said James Dinsmore, noting that almost every weekend for nearly nine years, Caudle would "escape" to their home.

About a year ago, James said, Joanne Rinebarger asked whether the Dinsmores would take Caudle, whose biological father has never been involved in his life.

"She was going to put him on a bus. He was 13 at the time," James said. She called back a while later and said they'd changed their mind.

In Colorado, Caudle is remembered as a playful pal, fiercely loyal to his friends.

"He was always there for me when I needed him," said Roby Creech, 15, who has known Caudle since sixth grade. "There were some people who were always picking on me and sometimes he would help me, say things back to them."

Creech said Caudle never spoke of trouble at home. They'd play video games together and ride four-wheelers.

"He was always saying the funniest stuff that made me laugh so hard," Creech said. "Everyone who hung out with him, a few people who knew him well, they always thought he was funny and weird, but weird in a good way. I hope I see him again someday."


Monte Vista teen recounts killing parents

By Jason Blevins - The Denver Post

February 25, 2010

DEL NORTE — John Caudle "just didn't want to take it anymore."

In an emotional police interview re-played in a Rio Grande County District courtroom today, the 15-year-old accused of killing his mother and step-father last October in their rural Monte Vista home, told investigators he was done with the chores, the names, and the abuse.

"I didn't want to hurt anymore," he said in the interview, taped the day police found the bodies of his mother and stepfather, Joanne and Tracy Rinebarger.

Caudle told the investigators he had returned from school Oct. 26 and "just looked at" his mother. She railed him about chores. He was already grounded for two weeks for "pitching a fit" about yard work. She called him names, he said.

What names? asked Det. Amy Frank with the Park County Sheriff's Office.

"A-hole. Jackass. Stupid idiot. Donkey. Dumb," said Caudle, who only explicitly named the words at Frank's prodding.

Days before the Oct. 26 murders, he had taken two .22-caliber pistols from the family's gun safe and put them in his room.

On this day, he used them.

He raised the gun toward his mother. He told investigators he fired six times. The coronor reported she was hit nine times.

"I tried to shoot her in the head so she wouldn't feel anything," he told Frank. "She screamed. She kept screaming."

An hour after killing his mother, Caudle said his stepfather returned from work. Tracy Rinebarger walked in the door and saw blood. He screamed his wife's name. Caudle was hiding in the laundry room. When Rinebarger ran by on his way to the back bedroom, Caudle fired.

"I shot him in the back of the head and he was still alive, so I shot him in the front of the head," Caudle said in the interview, played today for his preliminary hearing in Rio Grande District Court in Del Norte.

Rinebarger was still breathing.

"He wouldn't stop," Caudle said.

Caudle told investigators he stuffed his step-father's nostrils with ear plugs. Caudle dragged his step-father's body to the back bedroom and laid him alongside the body of his mother.

Tracy's parents, Ron and Patricia Rinebarger, bowed their heads in the courtroom when this part of the video was played. Friends and family reached over to the front row of the courtroom and grabbed their shoulders.

Caudle, dressed in jail pants and shackled around the legs and waist, also lowered his head as members of his defense team draped their arms over his slumping shoulders.

Unable to sleep that night, Caudle told Frank he showered, watched movies, played on the computer and finished laundry.

The next morning he drove his stepdad's 2008 Chevy Silverado pickup to Monte Vista High School, where he was a freshman. Later that afternoon, Park County sheriff's deputies picked him up driving erratically as he passed through Fairplay.

During the more than two-hour interview, Caudle was seen on tape occasionally sobbing and embracing his grandmother, Verla Miller of Salida, who huddled motionless in the interview room.

"Do you feel better getting this off your chest?" Frank said.

"I feel worse," Caudle said.


Couple's slaying, son's arrest shock Monte Vista

By Jason Blevins - The Denver Post

November 8, 2009

MONTE VISTA — Several hundred San Luis Valley residents gathered in a high school gym Saturday to mourn the loss of born-and-raised local son Tracy Rinebarger and his wife, Joanne, found dead in their remote home Oct. 27.

Absent from the tearful service was Joanne's son, 14-year-old John M. Caudle. The gangly freshman at Monte Vista High School was in jail, held on suspicion of killing his mother and stepfather. Schoolmates describe the teen as smart — even nerdy — and fond of cracking jokes. He had the odd habit of sucking his thumb.

"He was a good kid. I can't see this happening. I can't understand it. He was a good kid," said Joanne's mother, Verla Miller.

As Rio Grande County sheriff's deputies investigated a grisly scene in the family's home outside Monte Vista on the afternoon of Tuesday, Oct. 27, Miller got a call from another county. Park County sheriff's deputies had picked up her grandson in Fairplay on charges of reckless driving. He was in his stepdad's Chevrolet pickup. Could she come get him, a deputy asked her.

As she drove to fetch her grandson, Park and Rio Grande county law enforcement conferred. By the time Miller reached her grandson in Fairplay, he was a murder suspect and she sat through his initial questioning by deputies.

"I thought he could talk to me about anything," said Miller, a pastor at Salida's First Christian Church. "But I guess I wasn't that close."

Two lives stolen

Tracy Aaron Rinebarger, 38, and Joanne Marlee Galla, 34, were married in December 2005 after a romance that first sparked online. It was his first marriage and her second. He was born and raised in the San Luis Valley, graduating from Monte Vista High School in 1991. Several of his track records from high school still stand. He was a football star and a scholar, and worked as a potato inspector for the U.S. Department of Agriculture. He loved the Pittsburgh Steelers, as evidenced by the James Harrison jersey that hung at his memorial. He hunted, fished and was an avid bowler, bowling in a league every Sunday night at the Monte Vista alley.

Rinebarger was described as a big-hearted man who would "do anything for anybody," said the Rev. Dawn Simpson, who lived across the street from the Rinebargers.

Joanne was born a twin in Aurora in 1976. She grew up in Denver and Evergreen. In the late 1990s, she lived in northern Arkansas, where her 13-year-old daughter, Shayla Galla, still lives.

In a letter read at the memorial service, Joanne's twin sister, Jolene Galla, wrote that her sister was "a warrior" who "battled through life."

The letter noted broken relationships and struggles with drug abuse and a

hard life that forged a "bright, beautiful, independent and determined person."

The gymnasium where Tracy once played basketball echoed with sniffles and sobs. Five placards displayed a timeline of lives stolen. A freckled Tracy as a young boy. A grinning Joanne with her sister and older brother. Giddy wedding photos.

The Rinebargers declined requests for comment.

After marrying, the Rinebargers and Caudle lived in their modest rural home next door to Tracy's parents on the Rinebarger ranch, which abuts the Rio Grande National Forest south of Monte Vista. Neighbors said they were quiet and rarely reached out.

"She was very sweet. A heart of gold," said neighbor Gayle Murphy, who with her husband and sons bought 40 acres from Tracy's dad, Ron Rinebarger, several years ago. "I never met Tracy. They kept to themselves for the most part."

Judge closes hearings

According to locals, it was Ron Rinebarger who discovered the bodies of his son and daughter-in-law around 2 p.m. Oct. 27, after Tracy's USDA co-workers reported his rare tardiness at work. Memorial service pamphlets noted the couple's death as Monday, Oct. 26. Students said Caudle was in school for at least part of the day on Tuesday, the day after his parents were killed.

The day after Caudle's arrest Oct. 27, his public defender, Daniel Walzl, asked the court to close his client's proceedings. The request was supported by Deputy District Attorney Geoffrey Rieman, who argued in his motion for a closed courtroom that potentially sensitive information discussed during the teen's early hearings "may potentially cause alarm or outrage within the community."

District Judge Martin Gonzales agreed to close hearings and issued a gag order on attorneys, court personnel and police from four counties and three towns, restricting their ability to discuss any aspect of the case.

The gag order also applies to Rio Grande County Coroner Rusty Stroh mayer, who declined to discuss the couple's cause of death.

Caudle's attorney requested a 30-day extension before prosecutors file formal charges, and Gonzales agreed. Caudle, who has not been officially identified by authorities because of his juvenile status, will remain in detention until his next hearing Dec. 1.

Suspect smart and shy

Caudle's fellow students describe him as smart and occasionally goofy. He was shy and quiet when alone. But when he was with his small group of friends, he could be boisterous and rowdy.

He was fond of cracking jokes, and many remember him triggering hearty laughter on the bus ride to school some mornings.

Tall and lanky, with a buzz cut and eyeglasses framing a baby face, Caudle hardly casts a killer's shadow.

"He didn't look like he could do something like that," said Massiel Ochoa, 16.

Caudle was a voracious reader, often carrying dense books with him everywhere. Several students said he would suck his thumb while reading, especially on the bus to school every morning.

"He would read and read and read," said Chris Marquez, 14, who remembers how Caudle always scored the highest in the class on accelerated reading quizzes that followed each assigned book. "He was really smart."

Joanne's uncle, Daniel Miller of Pueblo, said he remembers Caudle as "easygoing and gentle."

"He was funny and enjoyed being around people," Miller said. "This thing surprised me."

School officials declined to say anything beyond confirming Caudle's freshman status at Monte Vista High School. In a statement released the day after Caudle's arrest, school leaders said counselors were assisting students and teachers. A week later, those counselors returned when a popular teacher committed suicide.

Students say Caudle, with a few exceptions, was rarely in trouble at school. However, several sources who knew the family but asked not to be identified said there was some discord at home, with Caudle often arguing with his mother.

Local authorities, citing the court's gag order, declined to say whether they had ever been called to the home for domestic issues.

Despite the dearth of official and confirmable news about what likely ranks as Monte Vista's most gruesome crime, there is no question the double-murder has shocked the town of about 4,000.

The Rev. Simpson, in her memorial address, called it a "tragedy for the community."

"There is nothing that can give us a reason why this happened," she said. "And we may never have an answer."

 

 

 
 
 
 
contact