Trio plotted another murder before killing elderly couple, police say

2013-09-23T00:00:00Z 2014-08-12T09:33:59Z Trio plotted another murder before killing elderly couple, police sayBy Kimberly Matas Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star

A self-styled “Juggalo family” charged in the brutal stabbing deaths of an elderly Tucson husband and wife originally had targeted a couple on Mount Lemmon for murder, recently released police reports state.

Kyle Austin Drattlo, 20, Christopher Edward Terry, 23, and Brianna Harding, 21, were charged with the July murders of Drattlo’s grandparents, Erskin and Mary Louise Fulgham.

However, earlier on the day of the murders, the trio had talked about killing another couple and stealing their car, according to interviews two Tucson Police Department detectives conducted with the suspects after they were arrested.

Erskin, 87, and Mary Louise, 83, were found in their home late in the afternoon on July 23. Each had been stabbed repeatedly. In addition, Erskin had been beaten and stomped.

The three suspects were picked up early the next morning while driving the couple’s 2004 Buick through Nevada.

The Nye County sheriff’s deputy who stopped the trio for speeding in Tonopah, Nev., said Drattlo “insisted he had permission from his grandmother to borrow the car.”

Terry told the deputy they were going to a big family reunion in Wyoming, but the deputy said “the highway they were on was the wrong way to drive to Wyoming.”

After the deputy checked in with the dispatcher and learned the car was reported stolen out of Tucson and was associated with a double homicide, Drattlo made reference to leaving the Fulghams’ home, saying that “he must have left the front door open and he hoped his grandparents were OK. Kyle also said that his grandparents gave him $150 and kissed him goodbye.”

During separate interviews with two Tucson detectives, the suspects initially denied knowledge of the homicides. As questioning continued, they admitted knowing about the slayings and began to assign blame to the others members in their quasi “family.”

Harding said she and her fiance, Terry, met Drattlo in December 2012 and they had lived together in Drattlo’s apartment until June when they were evicted. She told detectives they all used Spice, a synthetic marijuana, smoking six bags a day at a cost of $20 per bag. Terry said he and Harding were homeless and made money panhandling.

Before they began turning on one another Drattlo told detectives “Chris and Brianna were his family now,” according to reports. Months earlier, when Drattlo’s mother kicked him out of her house, he “told her that he made a Juggalo family.”

In 2011, the FBI formally classified the Juggalos as a gang. Arizona is one of the top five states in the U.S. reporting the most Juggalo gang-related criminal activity, according to The National Gang Intelligence Center’s 2011 gang threat assessment.

The day of the homicides a Pima County sheriff’s deputy had kicked the trio off Mount Lemmon for panhandling. The deputy let Drattlo use his cellphone to call his grandmother for a ride.

Soon after, back in Tucson, Mary Louise and Erskin got a ride from a neighbor, who took them to the mechanic’s shop where their Buick was being repaired. After picking up their car, the Fulghams also stopped at a grocery store to pick up $200 wired to them via Western Union from their son in Nevada. Mary told her son the money was for car repairs, but he suspected his mother was getting the money for Drattlo.

Drattlo, Terry and Harding eventually found a ride off the mountain and arrived at the Fulgham home while Mary and Erskin were still at the repair shop.

All three told detectives that their initial plan was to “murk” a couple they had seen on Mount Lemmon, and steal their car. When detectives asked Drattlo what he meant by that, “he explained that meant they would kill a couple.”

Harding “admitted that they spoke about that, but that they were just ‘joking.’ ”

Terry “put the idea of murking on Kyle’s shoulders.”

Instead of carrying out their plan on Mount Lemmon, the three are suspected of attacking the Fulghams. Mary, who weighed 107 pounds and was 5 feet, 6 inches tall, was stabbed as she sat in the living room. Erskin, at 5 feet 8 inches and 130 pounds, and in need of an oxygen tank, was stabbed, beaten and stomped in the kitchen.

Drattlo and Terry both are taller than 6 feet and each weighs more than 200 pounds.

Drattlo said Terry ordered him to take away his grandmother’s cellphone and unplug the landline.

He told detectives Terry “first stabbed his grandmother while she sat in her chair. He said that she did not know the attack was coming. His grandfather saw the attack on his grandmother. Chris tried to suffocate his grandfather with a pillow. In the process the grandfather’s nose was broken. His grandfather was stabbed with two knives, then Chris stomped on his chest.

“Kyle claimed that he tried to help his grandfather during the attack and he received the cut on his right inner thumb.”

At one point during the interview with detectives, Drattlo referred to his grandparents, saying, “I love them to death.”

Terry, whose knuckles were scabbed over when detectives met with him, said he and Harding were taking a shower at the Fulghams’ house when Drattlo had a “blackout rampage” and stabbed his grandparents to death. Terry said “he heard ‘Papa’ make a ‘blood-curdling scream.’ ” He came out of the bathroom in time to see Drattlo stab his grandfather once in the chest, according to the reports.

Terry told detectives he didn’t call the police because he was afraid of Drattlo. Instead, he put on “his Spider-Man shirt” and a clean pair of pants and they left in the Fulghams’ car.

Evidence at the scene and information provided by Terry also showed that they tried to break into the Fulghams’ safe before leaving, but succeeded only in breaking off the handle.

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