Jul 29, 2014
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Two Arrests Made in 2006 Triple Murder Near Palm Desert

Two Arrests Made in 2006 Triple Murder Near Palm Desert

Two men suspected in a 2006 triple killing near Palm Desert made their initial court appearances Wednesday on murder charges.

Cristin Conrad Smith and Robert Lars Pape, both 25, were arrested Tuesday in connection with the deaths of Vicki Friedli, 53, her boyfriend Jon Hayward, 55, and Friedli's 18-year-old daughter Becky.

The three were killed Sept. 17, 2006, at their home on Alpine Drive in Pinyon Pines.

Smith pleaded not guilty to the charges, but Pape's arraignment was rescheduled to Tuesday, the same day Smith has a felony settlement conference scheduled in Indio. Both are charged with three counts of murder, also with two sentence-enhancing firearm-use allegations and special circumstance allegations of committing multiple murders. Pape could be eligible for the death penalty if convicted because he was an adult at the time, Riverside County District Attorney's Office spokesman John Hall said. Smith faces life in prison without the possibility of parole if convicted.

Smith was arrested at Palm Springs International Airport about 2:15 p.m Tuesday, and Pape in Salton City shortly after 4 p.m. Both are being held without bail at the Robert Presley Detention Center in Riverside, according to jail records.

Pape was charged in a grand jury indictment handed down Tuesday and unsealed today in Riverside. Smith was originally named in the indictment but was stricken from the document today because he was 17 at the time of the murders, Hall said. A criminal complaint was filed against him instead.

Hayward was shot in the chest and Vicki Friedli in the head, while the cause of her daughter's death was unknown. Becky Friedli's charred body was found in a wheelbarrow outside the burning home, while her mother's body and Hayward's were found inside, according to authorities.

Pape and Becky Friedli had dated for 15 months before they broke up in January 2006. Friedli had told a friend three weeks before she was killed that Pape had told her "that if he couldn't have her, nobody could," according to an affidavit quoted by the Desert Sun.

The grand jury that reviewed the case heard testimony from about 30 witnesses in five days, Hall said.

Among those called to testify was Javier Garcia Jr., the son of former Assemblywoman and California Senate candidate Bonnie Garcia, his attorney told the Desert Sun.

Javier Garcia was close friends with Becky Friedli, and on the night of the killings, told him she was going to hang out with the two suspects. The next day, according to the grand jury affidavit, one of the suspects told Garcia that they decided not to go hiking, as planned.

But according to the affidavit, cell phone activity placed both suspects near the home, in a remote area off Highway 74. Both suspects' phones were shut off between 7 and 11 p.m. according to the document, which described the move as "an unprecedented anomaly" in comparison to their usual phone activities.

The affidavit said detectives found a business card with traces of Smith's DNA on it near the wheelbarrow and put the chances of the traces being random as "1 in 320,000."

The Desert Sun reported that three 12-gauge shotguns and a holster for a Glock handgun were found at the suspects' homes in October 2007.


— City News Service.

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