Cop to Christopher Vaughn: ‘Not a soul on this Earth that believes you’
By ERIKA WURST AND JON SEIDEL Sun-Times Media August 28, 2012 6:36AM
The Vaughn family, (upper left to right): Christopher, Kimberly, Abigayle, and (bottom from left) Cassandra and Blake are shown in an undated photo in front of Rosemont Theater in the Chicago area, where the Phoenix University graduation was held.
Updated: September 30, 2012 6:11AM
The faces of Christopher Vaughn’s three dead children stared up at their father from the desk in the tiny interrogation room.
An Illinois State Police special agent slid their photos in front of the Oswego man while he tried again to explain how his family’s dead, bloody bodies wound up in the family SUV that day in June 2007.
Vaughn had no answers. None that would satisfy Sgt. Gary Lawson or special agents Cornelious Monroe and Eileen Payonk. They grilled him for hours in front of a video camera.
And at the end of a long, blistering and sometimes profane marathon of questioning, their patience was gone.
“You don’t know s---, right?” Monroe said.
“You realize your family died today?” Payonk said. “These beautiful, beautiful little babies died today. They were just slaughtered.”
She told him to look at their faces — “look in their eyes.”
“You are the biggest p---- I’ve ever seen,” Monroe said.
Vaughn told his interrogators he left them in the car when he realized his leg was bleeding. He said he never heard a gunshot. And he said he didn’t know his family was dead until the cops told him so.
But when forced to guess how they died, he said Kimberly must have shot them all.
“There is not a soul on this Earth that believes you,” Payonk said.
Finally, looking weary and beaten in his hospital gown, Vaughn broke. He demanded to know if he was under arrest.
And then he stared Monroe in the eye as he crumpled two of his children’s photographs and threw them at the cop.
“Unlock the door,” Vaughn said, standing out of his chair. “I’d like to leave.”
Jurors in Vaughn’s trial on charges he murdered his wife and three children spent their entire day watching Vaughn’s June 14, 2007, interrogation. He watched it too, calmly following along on a transcript in the courtroom. It was filmed the same day police found 34-year-old Kimberly, 12-year-old Abigayle, 11-year-old Cassandra and 8-year-old Blake shot to death in the Vaughns’ red Ford Expedition.
Vaughn pulled it into a gravel driveway off a frontage road west of Interstate 55 that morning when his family was supposed to be on its way to a water park in Springfield. He told police his wife felt sick, and he tried to give her some privacy. Later Vaughn flagged down a passing motorist, and he said he thought his wife had shot him. He had minor gunshot wounds on his left leg and wrist.
Soon Vaughn found himself answering questions for police, and listening to Lawson call him “Lucky Chris.”
“Lucky Chris is telling me a story with so many f---ing holes in it it doesn’t make sense,” Lawson said.
Even when Lawson leaned toward him — handing him his kids’ photographs and telling them to keep them “close to your heart” — Vaughn maintained his innocence.
“Your family was slaughtered,” Payonk said.
“You’ve said that over and over,” Vaughn said.
He wouldn’t fill in the holes in his story.
“I don’t know what else you want to hear,” Vaughn said.
“The truth,” Payonk said.
She pointed to a picture of 8-year-old Blake, sitting on the table in front of them.
“Does he not deserve the truth?” she said.
Lawson told Vaughn a surveillance camera near the cell phone tower caught the shootings on tape — “cameras baby, cameras,” he said.
But Lawson told jurors that comment wasn’t true. The lie was an “investigative technique,” he said, and it came back to haunt him later in the tape when Vaughn insisted police look at the footage.
“Why can’t that one guy get the video camera he was talking about?” Vaughn said. “If it has the details that I don’t have?”
Vaughn stood by his marriage, however flawed it might have been. He said “divorce isn’t an option,” even though he admitted cheating on his wife and spending thousands at strip clubs. He said he’d been trying to make his marriage work and planned a surprise second honeymoon for the coming weekend.
“I think once you’re married, you’re married. You find someone you love, you have kids you love, and that’s your life,” he said.
When Lawson asked what Vaughn thinks should happen to whomever murdered his family, Vaughn replied with near certainty: “I think it’s an eye for an eye.
“Whatever they did, they deserve back,” Vaughn said.