Cop to Christopher Vaughn: ‘Your wife and your kids are all dead’
By ERIKA WURST Sun-Times Media August 27, 2012 12:08PM
Christopher Vaughn, of Oswego, is on trial in Will County for the murder of his wife, Kimberly, and their children in 2007. | Will County Sheriff's Office via AP
Updated: September 29, 2012 6:09AM
In a small investigation room at Illinois State Police headquarters in Lockport on June 14, 2007, Christopher Vaughn was offered a donut, water and some horrible news.
“Your wife and your kids are all dead,” Illinois State Police Sgt. Gary Lawson told Vaughn, who sat emotionless before him.
“That’s not possible,” Vaughn said, wearing a white hospital gown and a bandage on his wrist.
“They’re really shot, Chris. They’re dead. No longer here,” Lawson told him, and he insisted Vaughn knew exactly how and why it happened.
Just hours after his family was found shot and killed on a desolate frontage road in Channahon, 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.
It was the first time jurors heard Vaughn’s recollection of that morning’s events, which started innocently with a road trip to a Springfield water park, but ended in murder. Vaughn’s parents gripped each other’s hands in the courtroom galley as their son appeared on screen.
“Did you kill your wife? Did you kill your kids?” Lawson asked, peppering Vaughn with questions about his marriage and the problems with it.
“I could never,” Vaughn said. But Kimberly, he added, wasn’t capable of such a crime either.
“I didn’t do it, Kimberly didn’t do it ... if what you’re saying is true, find whoever did it,” Vaughn said.
“Let’s not make up imaginary people,” Lawson shot back.
The Oswego man admitted to investigators there were problems in the couple’s marriage. He told officers that he came clean to his wife about an affair he had six months earlier in Mexico. Because of that, she’d lost trust in him, he said. His long businesses trips, coupled with Kimberly’s recent graduation from the University of Phoenix, were also putting stress on the marriage.
As reconciliation, Vaughn said he was planning a surprise trip out of town with his wife to celebrate their 13th anniversary.
“Lucky 13,” Vaughn told investigators. “We were working really hard to patch (our relationship) back up.” Which is why, he said, he made those last-minute plans to take the family to the water park that morning.
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 and packed the car.
As the kids drifted back to sleep in the back seat of the family’s SUV, Vaughn said Kimberly felt ill and asked him to pull over so she could get sick. He maintains that was how they ended up 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.
When they arrived, Vaughn said he exited the SUV to check on the vehicle’s rooftop carrier. When he got back in, he noticed his leg was bleeding and he left to get help, he said. He told a passerby who called for help that he thought his wife had shot him.
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 on June 14 and 15.
“How did they die?” Lawson asked Vaughn.
“They’re not dead ... this is some weird show ... my kids are fine.”
Vaughn is on trial for the murder of 34-year-old Kimberly, 12-year-old Abigayle, 11-year-old Cassandra and 8-year-old Blake.
Vaughn’s defense team aims to prove that Kimberly fired a gun at him and the children before turning the gun on herself.
Prosecutors maintain that Vaughn — who visited a shooting range the night before — masterminded the plan to kill his family and live in isolation in Canada. But Vaughn from the beginning denied he killed anyone.
“I didn’t shoot anybody. My gun is at home,” Vaughn told Lawson.
“Then how did they die?” Lawson said.
“They’re not dead,” Vaughn replied.