A Will County jury needed less than an hour to declare Christopher Vaughn, a former St. Peters resident and graduate of Francis Howell High School, guilty of murdering his wife and three children in a desperate effort to free himself of his obligations for a new life in the Canadian wilderness.
Vaughn, dressed in his daily court attire of cowboy boots, sports coat and white shirt, showed no emotion when the verdict was read or as he was led from the courtroom. Kimberly Vaughn's family members were emotional, several crying in response to the ruling.
The jury's ruling means members believed Vaughn intentionally put a gun below the chin of his wife Kimberly, a St. Charles West High School graduate, and shot her in the head before turning the weapon on Abigayle, 12, Cassandra, 11, and Blake, 8, shooting each child in the head and torso. The mass execution was carried out in the pre-dawn hours of June 14, 2007, on a gravel driveway off an desolate Interstate 55 frontage road in rural Channahon.
Vaughn, 37, of Oswego, sustained superficial gunshot wounds to his left thigh and wrist, which prosecutors maintained were self-inflicted to bolster his story that his wife had shot him.
Defense attorneys presented a vigorous defense for Vaughn, making the case that it was Kimberly Vaughn who was the true er, faking an illness in order to get her husband to pull off on the quiet road so she could carry out her murder-suicide plan.
Her aim, the attorneys said, was to shoot her husband and children before turning the gun on herself. Her motivation: despondency over a crumbling marriage and unfaithful spouse and suicidal tendencies brought on by medication she was taking to treat migraine headaches.
According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the Vaughns met at a miniature golf course in St. Charles and married in 1994, a year after they met.
They then lived in St. Peters from 1999 to 2001 before the family moved to Washington.