Christopher Vaughn is behind bars for murdering his wife, Kimberly, and their three children, Abigayle, Cassandra, and Blake, inside their sports utility vehicle in Will County, Illinois.
On June 14, 2007, law enforcement officers were dispatched to a service road near Interstate Highway 55 in Channahon Township, about 40 miles southwest of Chicago.
When they arrived on the scene, they found Kimberly, 34, dead inside the family’s red Ford Expedition. Her body was in the passenger seat, and she had been shot once in the head.
Authorities also found her children, Abigayle, 12, Cassandra, 11, and Blake, 8, dead in the back seat.
Each child had been shot twice.
Christopher sustained superficial gunshot wounds to his leg and arm, and he was transported to the St. Joseph Medical Center in Joliet, where detectives met with him for questioning.
He told detectives that he and his family, originally from Missouri, left their home in Oswego before dawn.
They were on their way to a water park in Springfield. It was supposed to be a surprise trip, but they never made it.
Christopher, a then-32-year-old computer security consultant, pulled the vehicle over when his wife said she was feeling sick.
According to the Chicago Tribune, when they were on the side of the road, Christopher got out of his vehicle with the intention of fixing the luggage rack, but when he noticed the blood on his leg, he panicked.
Christopher limped away from the SUV and flagged down a passing motorist for help.
When Christopher learned he was suffering from multiple gunshot wounds, he claimed to have had no memory of how it occurred, nor did he remember hearing gunshots.
He later asked if authorities had informed his wife about the shooting.
At the scene, detectives found a 9 mm semiautomatic handgun belonging to Christopher. He bought it in Washington state, where he and his family lived, just before moving to Illinois in May 2006.
When Christopher was discharged from the hospital, he went to the Illinois State Police District 5 offices, where detectives questioned him further.
He was not considered a suspect in the case; therefore, when the interrogation was over, he “left on his own free will,” police said.
Christopher later became their prime suspect when they interviewed multiple witnesses and ascertained incriminating evidence on his computer and phone records.
Evidence at the scene also suggested that Christopher was the shooter. Investigators said they “used DNA analysis to examine blood splatter patterns and have also looked at bullet trajectories and gunpowder residue.”
An investigation led police officials to believe that Christopher put the gun under Kimberly’s chin and shot her. He then fatally shot Abygayle and Cassandra while they were sleeping.
It was reported that he shot Blake as he was raising his hand in an effort to protect himself from the bullet.
On June 23 of that same year, officers arrested Christopher at a funeral home in St. Charles, Missouri, just hours before the memorial service for Kimberly and her children began.
Christopher was initially held at the St. Charles Detention Center, where he was isolated from the other inmates until he was extradited to Illinois.
When he arrived in Illinois, Christopher was booked into the Will County Jail, where he was held without bond and placed on suicide watch.
He was charged with eight counts of first-degree murder—two for each person he killed.
The Dispatch reported that the following month, Christopher was indicted on four counts of first-degree murder. Four of the eight first-degree murder counts were dropped.
In July 2007, he pleaded not guilty to the charges.
During a hearing in September 2007, Christopher learned that prosecutors would pursue the death penalty if he were to be found guilty.
He apparently showed no emotion after hearing the announcement.
During the trial, which lasted nearly six weeks, Christopher’s defense team said he was innocent of the crimes and that Kimberly was the shooter.
A private investigator stated that when Christopher remembered what happened, he said Kimberly shot and killed their children before turning the gun on herself.
Christopher articulated that he was standing outside the car when he heard gunshots. When he re-entered the vehicle, Kimberly shot him twice, then told him “you killed the kids” before fatally shooting herself.
According to his defense team, Kimberly had become “unstable from a shifting blend of medications, including some linking to increased in violent or suicidal behavior.”
Prosecutors contended that Christopher was the shooter. They stated that after he pulled the SUV over, he exited the vehicle, retrieved his gun from the rack on the roof, and put it in his jacket.
After getting back in the car, he shot and killed his wife and children.
It is their belief that Christopher murdered his family so that he could escape to Canada and live in the wilderness.
In September 2012, a Will County jury deliberated for less than an hour before finding Christopher guilty of fatally shooting his family.
In a statement, Will County State’s Attorney said, “In the successful prosecution of Christopher Vaughn, we called 90 witnesses to the stand in our case-in-chief, and the jury returned a guilty verdict in 60 minutes.”
That same year, in November, Christopher was sentenced to four consecutive life terms with no chance of parole.
Christopher’s attorneys are reportedly still trying to prove his innocence.