JOLIET, Ill. (STMW) — For the first time, jurors heard in Christopher Vaughn’s own words what happened that early June morning.
Just hours after his family was found shot and killed, Vaughn came face to face with investigators who were eager to find out what happened. Prosecutors played a video of that meeting Monday as the second week of Vaughn’s murder trial kicked off.
Vaughn, dressed in a white hospital gown with a bandaged wrist, showed no emotion when officers broke the news that his family was dead.
“Your wife and your kids are all dead,” Illinois State Police Sgt. Gary Lawson told Vaughn.
“No, that’s not possible,” Vaughn said.
“They’re all shot Chris, they’re dead. No longer here.”
“That’s not possible … can you just bring (Kim) in?” Vaughn said.
“Did you kill your wife? Did you kill your kids?” Lawson asked.
“I could never,” Vaughn said.
Kimberly Vaughn and the couple’s three children were shot and killed on the morning of June 14, 2007, as they were making a trip to a Springfield Water park.
Vaughn admitted the trip was a last-minute one, planned after Kimberly Vaughn said he wasn’t spending enough time with his kids. He maintains that someone in a McDonald’s restaurant told him about the park and recommended they go.
On no sleep, and wearing the same clothes he wore the evening before, Vaughn said he set the couple’s alarm for 4 a.m., woke the kids, who fell back asleep in the car on the way from Oswego to the park.
Vaughn said Kimberly got ill as they drove down Interstate 55, and that was why he pulled over the family SUV on the frontage road where the family was found shot. Why he pulled off into an even more secluded gravel road has been a mystery until Monday when jurors heard Vaughn say he followed a deer to that location.
Vaughn maintained his innocence throughout the interview with the investigators, which jurors saw just a snippet of. More than 11 hours of tape were taken between June 14 and 15.
“How did they die?” Lawson asked Vaughn.
“They’re not dead … this is some weird show … my kids are fine.”
Earlier in the interview, Vaughn said he and Kimberly had been arguing the night before, and he told investigators that she was upset about an affair he allegedly had in Mexico.
Vaughn is on trial for the murder of 34-year-old Kimberly and their three children: 12-year-old Abigayle, 11-year-old Cassandra and 8-year-old Blake. Police found their bodies that morning in the family’s red Ford Expedition after Vaughn flagged down a passing motorist.
Nursing minor gunshot wounds in his wrist and thigh, Vaughn said his wife shot him. He has argued that Kimberly fired a gun at him and the children before turning the gun on herself.
Prosecutors aim to prove Vaughn — who visited a shooting range the night before — masterminded the plan to kill his family and live in isolation in Canada.
Defense attorneys, though, say Kimberly Vaughn was suicidal, possibly as a result of medications she was taking for various health issues.
The first witness to take the stand Monday was a co-worker of Vaughn, Allan Hsu, who talked about a night out with Christopher Vaughn in Utah on June 2, 2007. Hsu said he headed back to the hotel at 1 a.m., but Vaughn didn’t.
“You went back out?” Hsu wrote in an email to Vaughn. “You can’t tell me something like that and leave me hanging.”
Vaughn wrote back that what occurred was “Nothing that I can mention by email,” but that it “Got interesting.” He said he got back to hotel at 5 a.m.
Hsu said he never found out what Vaughn had done that night in Utah. Vaughn’s family was shot and killed less than 2 weeks later.
(Source: Sun-Times Media Wire © Chicago Sun-Times 2012. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)