12:39 EST 26 November 2012
Friends and family have expressed their outrage over the deaths of two popular students shot by a homeowner while they robbed his home – as he revealed he fired ‘more shots than he needed to’.
The bodies of cousins Haile Kifer, 18, and Nicholas Brady Schaeffel, 17, were found in Byron Smith’s basement in Little Falls, Minnesota on Friday – the day after they were shot dead on Thanksgiving.
When police arrived at his home after reports of suspicious activity, Smith, 64, confessed to shooting the teenagers repeatedly and stashing their bodies after they broke into his home, authorities said.
On Monday, he was charged with second-degree murder and police revealed he told them he fired more shots than necessary after his gun jammed and Kifer laughed at him.
While Minnesota law stipulates people are allowed to use deadly force when defending their homes, relatives, friends, police and prosecutors claimed Smith reacted too drastically by killing them.
‘A person has every right to defend themselves and their homes, even employing deadly force if necessary,’ Morrison County Sheriff Michel Wetzel said. ‘Circumstances of this case however, led deputies to believe that Smith went beyond that point.’
And as he was charged on Monday, his intentions to shoot the teens dead became clear.
In a criminal complaint, Smith said he was in the basement of his home when he heard a window breaking and footsteps. Fearful of other recent break-ins, he shot Schaeffel when he came into view.
When the teenager tumbled down the stars, Smith shot him in the face as he lay on the floor, looking up.
‘I want him dead,’ the complaint quoted Smith as telling an investigator.
He dragged the body into his workshop and then sat in the chair, the complaint said. When Kifer began walking down the stairs, he shot her and she fell down the stairs.
He tried to shoot her again with his rifle, but the gun jammed and Kifer laughed at him, the complaint noted.
‘If you’re trying to shoot somebody and they laugh at you, you go again,’ Smith, 64, told investigators, according to a criminal complaint filed Monday.
He then shot her several times in the chest with a .22-caliber revolver, dragged her next to her cousin, and with as she gasped for air, fired a shot under her chin ‘up into the cranium’.
‘Smith described it as “a good clean finishing shot”,’ according to the compliant, and acknowledged he had fired ‘more shots than (he) needed to’.
Smith said he left the bodies in his home overnight before calling a neighbor to ask if he knew a good lawyer. He later asked the neighbour to contact police.
Missed: Friends and teacher expressed their shock at deaths and described Haile as a popular role model
A prosecutor at Morrison County District Court on Monday morning called Smith’s reaction ‘appalling’.
‘Mr. Smith intentionally killed two teenagers in his home in a matter that goes well beyond self-defense,’ Morrison County Attorney Brian Middendorf said at the hearing.
Friends have taken to a memorial Facebook page for Kifer and Schaeffel to vent their anger about the deaths. Others spoke out at a vigil for the youngsters on Sunday night.
‘They were just really great people,’ friend Rachel Stauffer, 15, told the Minneapolis Star Tribune. ‘They could make anyone laugh.’
Carlee Davich, who coached Kifer in swimming at school, added: ‘She was always happy. She had a way that just made everyone happy. A lot of the swimmers and divers looked up to her.’
Emma Schmidt, a fellow classmate at Little Falls High School, said Kifer was talented and well-liked and ‘everyone’s wondering’ what she was doing in Smith’s basement.
Further insight into the lives of the cousins was given by Brady’s sister, Crystal Shaeffel, as she visited Smith’s home and spoke with his brother.
‘They were 17 and 18 years old, and didn’t need to die,’ she told Bruce Smith.
‘That all depends on your perspective,’ he responded, referring to a series of break-ins his brother had endured. In one in October, thieves stole $10,000 worth of guns and electronics, he said.
But Shaeffel insisted that her brother had no need to turn to burglary, as he made good money working for their father’s tree-trimming business.
She added that her cousin, who had undergone treatment for substance abuse, could have been after pills from the home.
‘Yes, she had an addiction problem and stuff, but that doesn’t mean she deserves to get murdered at 18 years old,’ Shaeffel said. ‘I understand they came there to rob them, or whatever, but shoot them in the shoulder and call the cops.’
On the Facebook page, friends agreed that the shootings were too severe.
‘It doesn’t matter what they were or weren’t doing there,’ Mike Boulley wrote. ‘They were KIDS that didn’t deserve to die. Defending your property against armed burglars is one thing, gunning down two unarmed teenagers is just inexcusable.’
Logan Ayres added: ‘It’s hard to see such nice people lose their lives to something that could of been so easily taken care of instead of murder. R.I.P. nick and halie you will be dearly missed.’
Smith, 64, a former government employee who reportedly worked in security for the U.S. State Department, was arrested on Friday and is being held on $2 million bail.
According to his friends, Smith said that he had didn’t go to police immediately after the shooting because he panicked about the deaths.
‘He was very traumatized by what had occurred and didn’t know who to call or what to do and that is very sad that the whole thing even happened,’ Kathy Lange told KSTP-TV.
His brother, Bruce Smith, said that this was the latest of eight burglaries in recent years.
Byron Smith said that he suspected that the two had been responsible for at least some of those past robberies.
Neighbours told the Star Tribune he kept to himself, but they complained that he regularly shot guns on his property and said they were concerned children playing nearby could be hurt.
using the number/letter grid:
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
A B C D E F G H I
J K L M N O P Q R
S T U V W X Y Z
A = 1 J = 1 S = 1
B = 2 K = 2 T = 2
C = 3 L = 3 U = 3
D = 4 M = 4 V = 4
E = 5 N = 5 W = 5
F = 6 O = 6 X = 6
G = 7 P = 7 Y = 7
H = 8 Q = 8 Z = 8
I = 9 R = 9
81935 29659 57
her path of destiny = 57 = Condolences. Heartbreaking.
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