2 Cody teenagers arrested in triple homicide in Clark, Wyo.

2013-03-03T14:46:00Z 2013-12-24T09:46:19Z 2 Cody teenagers arrested in triple homicide in Clark, Wyo.Gazette Staff The Billings Gazette
March 03, 2013 2:46 pm  • 

Two Cody, Wyo., teenagers have been arrested in connection with a triple homicide at a home in Clark, a rural community in northwest Wyoming near the Montana border.

Park County Sheriff Scott Steward said Sunday that Stephen Hammer, 19, and Tanner Vanpelt, 18, are being held at the Park County Detention Center in Cody. They will be formally charged with the killings and other crimes on Tuesday, Steward said in a news release.

"This is nothing short of cold-blooded murder," Steward said.

He identified the victims as Ildiko Freitas, 40, and her parents, Janos Volgyessi, 69, and Hildegard Volgyessi, 70. All lived in Clark.

The slayings were reported at about 11:15 a.m. Saturday when a neighbor found two people shot inside a house. Sheriff's deputies and ambulance personnel were dispatched to the house, where a third body was found in the basement.

Witnesses told authorities that two slender white men entered the house on Big View Road and then two cars left the property at a high speed. One of the cars was recognized as belonging to Freitas, Steward said.

Witnesses provided descriptions of the vehicles and Wyoming Highway Patrol troopers located the cars several miles away and took the two Cody men into custody without incident.

A neighbor, Robert Bushman Jr., said some of his neighbors who saw the victims' dogs chasing two vehicles down the road became concerned and found the people shot in the home.

"The neighbors are shell shocked," he said.

Bushman said he lives across the road about 600 yards from the house where the killings took place. Big View Road is a dead-end road with four or five homes sitting on 40-acre lots, he said.

"We look out for unusual vehicles," he said, because the road doesn't get much traffic.

He said Saturday is his house-cleaning day, so he was busy in his house and didn't notice anything unusual. When he did look outside, he saw his neighbors' house surrounded by sheriff's vehicles and an ambulance. He first thought that Janos Volgyessi may have had a heart attack.

He said Clark has about 325 residents, two churches, a couple construction businesses and one elementary school. It is a quiet community where "everyone goes to church."

Clark, about 30 miles north of Cody off state Highway 120, is a community of widely scattered houses on a sagebrush prairie sloping up to the Beartooth Mountains.

Only an occasional vehicle was seen on the roads around the community Sunday as fierce winds whipped across the landscape. 

The triple homicide left residents on edge. When a Billings Gazette reporter rang the doorbell of one house in Clark on Sunday afternoon, a man gripping a black assault rifle pointed to the ground walked around from the garage.

Residents are suspicious of any unfamiliar cars now, he said before declining to be interviewed about the murders.

At the Edelweiss — a bar, cafe and convenience store on state Highway 120 across from the road to Clark — Lora Ryan was tending bar.

Ildiko Freitas had stopped by the Edelweiss a couple of times since Ryan began working there about four months ago.

Called "Koko" by some, Freitas was "a nice, pretty lady," Ryan said, adding that it broke her heart to hear of the death.

Friday night, Freitas came to the Edelweiss to meet several ladies, who then went to Cody for dinner, Ryan said.

Clark is a close, caring community, Ryan said. She was homeless when she stopped by the Edelweiss for a hamburger a few months ago. The owner hired her on the spot and someone else helped her find an apartment nearby.

Steward said the crime scene investigation is being conducted by the Wyoming State Crime Lab and Wyoming Division of Criminal Investigation.

 

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