JOLIET, Ill. (CBS) — An Oswego man charged with killing his wife and three children in 2007 might have been researching ways to fake his own death.
As WBBM Newsradio 780’s Regine Schlesinger reports, at the time of the murders, Christopher Vaughn, 36, had a magazine article about staging crime scenes and “making the death appear to be a suicide,” which was confiscated by police.
Vaughn, 36, also spent a half-hour at a Plainfield shooting range the night before the murders, the documents say, firing at targets with a gun later seized by police from between his dead wife’s feet.
LISTEN: Newsradio 780’s Regine Schlesinger reports
The documents show the Vaughn family’s trip to Knight’s Water Park in Springfield also was planned the night before the murders, reached after Vaughn’s wife accused him of spending too little time with their kids.
Meanwhile, an exotic dancer told police Vaughn had written her a poem about “ancient souls” and bad timing, and Vaughn might have explored the possibility of faking his death.
Finally, it appears the Oswego man wrote an ominous blog entry just weeks before the shooting about “wrapping up a few last things” before disappearing into the remote wilderness.
Vaughn is charged in the June 14, 2007, murders of his wife Kimberly, and their three children – Abigayle, 12; Cassandra, 11; and Blake, 8. Early that morning, state police found the four bodies inside the family’s SUV while it was parked on an Interstate 55 frontage road in Channahon Township.
He maintained that his wife shot the children, then killed herself.
While prosecutors haven’t set forth a motive in the murders, Vaughn’s wife had a $1 million life insurance policy that listed him as a beneficiary. Vaughn also confessed to an affair in December 2006 after a trip to Mexico. Court records show the couple had been fighting, and he would sometimes sleep at the office.
Prosecutors have said Vaughn was frustrated with his life and wanted to live in the Canadian wilderness. The records show someone using his e-mail address set up a blog site for a user named “dewoodsman,” and at least one man knew Vaughn as “Flint.”
Some “dewoodsman” posts can still be found online. Though Vaughn isn’t identified as their author, they appear under his user name and are signed with his e-mail address. One, signed “Flint,” was posted one month before Vaughn’s wife and children were killed.
“I am working on wrapping up a few last things and then I am headed out for the long walk,” it reads. “I’ve been taking continually longer and more remote trips figuring that when the time comes I’ll be ready.”
Will county prosecutors and Vaughn’s public defenders declined to comment Monday on the “dewoodsman” entries found online.
Court records show Vaughn’s former private attorneys, who left the case earlier this year, asked a judge not to admit several pieces of evidence.
Among them was the article found in a magazine for private investigators about the effect of television on criminal suspects who stage crime scenes based on Hollywood portrayals. A portion of the article talked about making deaths appear like suicides. The cases referenced involved rape-murders made to look like hangings.
Vaughn, a private investigator, told police “clearly and unequivocally” he never read it.
He did not deny, however, that he spent a half hour at Mega Sports Shooting Equipment and Range in Plainfield the night before his family was killed. His attorneys said his visit was irrelevant.
The Sun-Times Media Wire contributed to this report.