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Double homicide details released

Posted: Friday, Jan 29th, 2010

Joanne Rinebarger and John Caudle in happier times
DEL NORTE — An argument over household chores allegedly triggered a bloody double homicide shortly before Halloween, according to recently released court records.

John Michel Caudle, 14, is accused of killing his mother, Joanne Marlee Rinebarger, 34, and stepfather Tracy Aaron Rinebarger, 38, during the late afternoon hours of Oct. 26, 2009, dragging them to the master bedroom of the family home and then watching movies and playing video games.

He is being tried as an adult, defended by Colorado Public Defenders Amanda Hopkins and Daniel Walzl. The people are represented by 12th Judicial District Deputy District Attornies Geoff Rieman and Daniel McIntyre, along with Special Deputy District Attorney Daniel W. Edwards of the Colorado Attorney General’s Office.

Arrest affidavits for Caudle were not made public until recently and reveal details about the crimes with which he is charged.

The youth is charged with two counts of first degree murder after deliberation; two counts of first degree assault with a deadly weapon, a handgun, against both his mother and stepfather; second degree aggravated motor vehicle theft involving a pickup truck belonging to Tracy Rinebarger, theft involving credit cards and currency belonging to Tracy, two counts of mandatory sentencing for a violent crime causing death and to counts of violent crime causing serious bodily injury using a deadly weapon.

Caudle has not entered a plea, as attorneys on both sides are debating technical details, including where he will be held while awaiting trial, since Colorado State law is specific on the difference between detention of juveniles and adults. Juveniles who are charged as adults are not allowed to be held in youth detention. Caudle was first taken to Alamosa Youth Track, then transferred to Pueblo Youth Services Center (Detention), where he is currently housed.

A formal advisement hearing, originally scheduled for Friday, Jan. 22, was postponed because of the weather. Caudle will be back in court Feb. 2 for advisement and a hearing on whether he should be housed in the Rio Grande County jail.

Deliberation detailed

His alleged deliberation before killing the Rinebargers is detailed in affidavit materials, taken from statements made by Caudle to staff at the Park County Sheriff’s Office and agents from the Colorado Bureau of Investigation.

Apparently, Caudle had taken two .22 caliber pistols from a gun safe in the home and hid them in his room two days before the deaths of his parents.

On Oct. 26, after returning home from school, the youth allegedly argued with his mother over assigned chores, went into his room, returned with the pistols and shot her to death shortly before 6 p.m.

Caudle allegedly told investigating officers that he hid in the laundry room of the home when he heard his stepfather returning from work. As Tracy Rinebarger walked past the laundry room and into the kitchen, he was shot in the head, the affidavit indicates.

Later that evening, Caudle dragged the couple into the master bedroom, taking cash, cards and keys to his stepfather’s 2008 Chevrolet Silverado from the dead man’s pockets.

The teenager then allegedly spent the evening watching movies and playing on the computer before going to school the next morning. Caudle left after school that day and intended to drive to an uncle’s house in Dacono, north of Denver. He was arrested in Fairplay after it was reported he was driving aggressively and erratically. 

Caudle was a freshman at Monte Vista High School and is described as a smart youth, even gifted and talented, who made few close friends and did not cause problems at school, though there was some indication of problems at home.

The remains of Joanne and Tracy Rinebarger were found on the bedroom floor at about 2:10 p.m. Oct. 27 by a male relative who had gone to the home to check on the couple.

For the complete article see the 01-28-2010 issue.

Click here to purchase an electronic version of the 01-28-2010 paper.

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