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Three Arrested In Death Of Highland Park Man

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Colin Nutter with his sister Sara. (Credit; Twitter)

Colin Nutter with his sister Sara. (Credit: Twitter)

UPDATE: 6/7/2013 1:15 p.m.

CHICAGO (CBS) — Three people, including two Highland Park High School students, have been arrested and charged with first-degree murder in the death of a 20-year-old Highland Park man.

The body of Colin Nutter, who was a 2011 graduate of the school, was found in Wilmette on Monday evening near the Edens Expy. by a woman walking her dog.

District 113 Supt. George Fornero sent an email to parents saying the school will cooperate fully with any investigation.

“Our hearts go out to Colin’s family. This is an unconscionable tragedy, and we realize that no words can heal the pain of their loss,” he said. Students are currently on summer break.

Investigators believe the slaying occurred in Highwood and called the evidence against the three overwhelming.

Benjamin Schenk, 20, Philip Vatamaniuc, 17, and Michael Coffee, 17, have each been charged with first-degree murder. (Credit: Highwood Police)

Benjamin Schenk, 20, Philip Vatamaniuc, 17, and Michael Coffee, 17, have each been charged with first-degree murder. (Credit: Highwood Police)

Benjamin Schenk, 20, and Philip Vatamaniuc, 17, and Michael Coffee, 17, have each been charged with first-degree murder, Lake County state’s attorney Michael Nerheim said. All are from Highland Park.

Bond was set at $5 million for each suspect. Their next court date is July 1.

The three men arranged to purchase marijuana from Nutter and were driving in Nutter’s Dodge Stratus on Monday. Nerheim said Schenk, who was sitting in the back seat, is the one who shot Nutter in the back of the head.

The day before, Schenk allegedly told a friend that he was going to kill somebody and needed items, such has rubber gloves, to carry out the crime.

Nutter’s body was placed in the trunk and driven to Wilmette, where Vatamaniuc and Schenk dumped the body near the Edens, Nerheim said.

The next day, the three defendants drove Nutter’s car and left it in 3900 block of West Madison in Chicago.

The three suspects were captured on police surveillance tape at that location, authorities said.

The three also used the Nutter family’s stolen Ford Focus to drive to and then return from Chicago. That car was later located in Highwood near the 200 block of Oakridge Avenue, near an apartment where the three would hang out together. Police also recovered a bloody trunk liner from Nutter’s Dodge in a trash can in Highwood.

CBS 2’s Roseanne Tellez reports, Daniel Vatamaniuc, the father of Philip, was in a state of disbelief over the news, saying it was completely out of character.

“From the bottom of my heart, I know he didn’t do that,” he said. “He’s a very sensitive guy and very friendly. He’s not a violent kid.”

Vatamaniuc says Schenk, the alleged triggerman, was not a close friend. But he said Coffee, who lived nearby in Highland Park, often played video games with his son after school.

The motive for the murder was not immediately known, police said. Authorities indicated additional arrests were possible.

Nutter’s family home in Highland Park was burglarized a month ago, and three young people were charged in the case.

The three murder suspects were not involved in that crime, police said.

Schenk’s criminal record includes being charged with felony and misdemeanor burglary in unrelated cases.