The Mont Vernon Murder refers to a thrill killing committed on October 4, 2009. The case gained national media attention due to the extreme brutality of the murders, and the randomness by which the victims were chosen. Some of the killers showed a lack of remorse for the murders, and and most of them were young.
At 4:15 AM on a Sunday morning, Police Sgt. Kevin Furlong was dispatched to a home in Mont Vernon, New Hampshire. He was dispatched for a robbery or an assault, but was not exactly sure what he'd be walking into.
When he arrived, he spotted a light on in the house. When no one answered, he broke through the front door. There, he found Jaimie Cates, an 11-year-old child. She had been stabbed and maimed, but was still alive. He told the officer "they killed my mommy". He carried the child outside and returned to the house to look for more victims, and the suspects.
Soon, he located the body of 42-year-old Kimberley Cates in her bedroom. She was slashed and stabbed and was found dead in a pool of her blood. Both victims were attacked with a machete, Kimberley hacked with 36 blows to her head and torso.
The afternoon of the murders, police already began investigating 4 people: Steven Spader, Christopher Gribble, William Marks, and Quinn Glover. Spader was a Boy Scout turned high school drop-out. He formed a club called "The Disciples of Destruction", and he was recruiting members. He told his "recruits" that the home invasion was a rite of initiation for the club.
Police were led to Spader by a friend of the teens who had called and said that Spader and Glover had visited his home and described in detail the crime they committed. The friend recounted the descriptions of entering the home and attacking a woman and child.
Police went to Spader's home that evening, where he was with Gribble and their friend, Autumn Savoy. He was questioned, but he first gave an alibi for the guys. Then, he changed his story and told investigators everything he knew about the crime, and claimed he had helped dump some of the evidence in the river.
The next day, the school resource officer contacted the detectives after a student told him he had been threatened by some of the suspects. He told the resource officer that the teens had discussed details of the murder with him, and said he accompanied Gribble to a mall to pawn stolen jewelry from the invasion.
Glover and Marks, 2 of the other accomplices, were high school students at Souhegan High School in Amherst. Both were questioned. Glover admitted that they were in the area around the time of the killing, but he asked for an attorney. Marks, however, provided details of the crime. He said he entered the basement, but couldn't get further access to the home.
Marks said he could hear the woman saying, "you don't have to do this," and then later, gained access to the bedroom and saw that the woman and child had been attacked. He also admitted that he helped canvas the street for a home to break into. He believed the home was empty. On October 6, all 4 accomplices were arrested and arraigned.
Jaimie Cates survived the attack. In court documents, she told investigators that she was sleeping in her mother's bedroom when her mother woke with a start after hearing a noise. When she went to check it out, she was attacked by a man holding a "sword". The 11-year-old tried to protect her mother, and the weapon was turned on her.
She tried to escape, but Gribble grabbed her and stabbed her multiple times. She was thrown against the glass door and she fell to the floor. He kicked her and slashed her face. She pretended to be dead while Gribble went to take care of her mother.
Gribble later admitted to investigators that if he had known Jaimie was still alive, he would have killed her so she didn't have to live with the aftermath of watching her mom get hacked to death. However, he also said he wanted to kill someone for a long time because "it's cool and different", so take that with a grain of salt.
LEGAL PROCEEDINGS AND AFTERMATH
Spader and Gribble were both sentenced to life in prison for their involvement in the attack and murder. 3 other accomplices, including Marks and Glover, who were present for the murder but didn't actually partake, were sentenced to varying prison sentences.
Because of Miller v. Alabama in 2012, Spader and Gribble, who were both minors at the time of the crime, were granted rehearings. Spader, describing himself as "the most sick and twisted person you'll ever meet", did not show up to his hearing and said he did not want a reduction in his sentence. His lack of remorse (because he considered it an "unnecessary form of weakness") led the State to believe he would commit more crimes upon release, and thus, his 76 year sentence was upheld.
Steven Spader is a psychopath, said Jeffery Strelzin. "That's the only explanation for why Spader and his friend were able to commit such a horrific crime and to show no remorse except for the fact that they were caught."
The Spaders had tried to get help for their son, whom they adopted at age 5, when he started having troubles in his teens. His parents said he was not unintelligent, not abused and was well-equipped to make the right decisions. He just didn't.
In 2014, Gribble sought a reduction in his sentence for his age, however, the court has not yet ruled on his behalf.
"They don't care about other people, and unfortunately, they took great satisfaction in inflicting pain and mayhem on innocent people, Strelzin said of both Gribble and Spader. He said they chose their victims at random so they could do it again.
The crime led New Hampshire legislation to expand crimes punishable by death to include murders during a home invasion.
Last year was 10 years since the attack where Jaimie Cates was left for dead after watching her mother be murdered in front of her. But now, she is thriving. At age 21, she was studying public health, about to graduate college. She played field hockey at the University of North Carolina Wilmington. She said she lives every day like it is her last.
Lt. James Geraghty, the lead investigator on the case, says this case stands out to him more than others because they had a live victim. He has watched Jaimie grow up, seeing her exhibit strength at every step.
Each year, David Cates holds a golf tournament on the anniversary of the attack for a scholarship in his wife's name, which has raised $250,000. He and other investigators from the case attend the tournament every year. "You can't meet David and Jaimie Cates and not walk away affected," he said.
We like to find some reason that crimes were committed. The killer was terribly abused as a child. The victim did something to enrage the perpetrator. There was money or infidelity or something involved. Not because it makes death any easier, but because if there's a reason for it happening, we can tell ourselves that it won't happen to us.
But this is a case that turns that logic on its head. Spader and Gribble weren't abused or tortured as kids, they grew up with Boy Scouts, church, and loving parents. And Kimberley and Jaimie Cates didn't do anything to anger the killers... they didn't even know them. A group of 4 people, 2 psychopaths and 2 people who were involved for other unknown reasons, entered a home of completely random people. They maimed an 11-year-old girl who had to fight for her life while watching her mother get hacked 36 times with a machete. For no reason. They didn't know each other. They were selected entirely at random by people who had no nurture-based reasons to be killers.
Now, Jaimie Cates is 22. And even though she is thriving academically, socially and athletically in college, part of her will always be the 11-year-old who watched her mom get murdered. Luckily, she can take some comfort in knowing that her killers are behind bars. But I can't imagine the strength it takes to be able to pick yourself up and keep living after that trauma.
RIP to Kimberley Cates. And to Jaimie, I hope she continues to live life to the fullest, while the 4 horrific people who took her mother from her rot in prison for life.