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Arson, murder suspect, 14, used Facebook right before arrest

September 30, 2013|by Ryan Johnson | KWCH 12 Eyewitness News
  • Karla Vonachen and her daughter Audrey were both killed in a Hutchinson house fire last week. Police determined it was arson, and arrested the son of the family, Sam.
The Hutchinson News

A deadly house fire in Hutchinson last week has been ruled as arson, killing a mother and her daughter. The son, 14-year-old Sam Vonachen, has been charged with murder, attempted murder and arson.

A Facebook friend of his contacted us about some messages the teen posted on the day of the fire. The posts might give us a better idea of the timeline of what happened, and what was going through his mind on that day.


Just after midnight, fire crews were called out to the fire at the Vonachen home. Steve Vonachen, his wife Karla and their two children, Sam and 11-year-old Audrey, were inside the home when the fire started.

The Reno County District Attorney said an accellerant was poured around several rooms of the house.

Audrey died at a Hutchinson hospital just a short time after the fire started. Karla died in a Wichita hospital later in the afternoon.

Just after 5 p.m. Thursday, Sam posted a message on Facebook saying "My dad just got back form Wichita, Its just me and him now."

About an hour and half later, he had a conversation with a Facebook friend, who reached out to him with a sympathetic message.

Sam replied, "its fine."

Two minutes later, she wrote back that it was not fine, and that it was "so sad."

He replied, "I'm not sad, this is just part of life."

About an hour after that post, Sam was arrested for the murder of his mother and sister. Reno County District Attorney Keith Schroeder believes that what happened was premeditated.

"I think when those facts go out to those people who say, "Oh, this is just a 14-year-old boy,' they'll realize - hopefully they'll realize - he should be charged as an adult," Schroeder said.

Sam was scheduled to be in court this morning for a hearing to determine whether he would be moved to a youth shelter. He waived the hearing, meaning he will continue to be held in a detention facility.

So far, there has not been a motion to fim Sam as an adult, and there is no date set for his next court appearance.

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