October 26, 2009
Monte Vista, Colorado
John Caudle (14) kills his mother and stepfather
Caudle prepared for the shootings the night before, by taking two .22-caliber handguns from the home’s gun safe and stored them in his bedroom. When Caudle came home after school on October 26, he later told authorities, his mother Joanne Rinebarger (34) began to berate him about his chores and for not bringing her a glass of soda she had requested. Caudle “just looked at” his mother while she began to call him names.
“What names?” Detective Amy Frank asked Caudle later.
“A-hole. Jackass. Stupid idiot. Donkey. Dumb,” Caudle listed.
“All the negative feelings that I had repressed my whole life came out,” Caudle further explained. “I went to my room and got one of the guns. I came out and started shooting her.” Joanne was shot 9 times. “I tried to shoot her in the head so she wouldn’t feel anything. She screamed. She kept screaming.”
After killing his mother, Caudle waited for his stepfather Tracy Rinebarger (38) to come home from work about an hour later. “I saw my stepfather’s truck at the end of the driveway. I was scared because I knew that he would kill me for what I had done.” Tracy saw blood in the home and called out Joanne’s name. Meanwhile, Caudle concealed himself in the laundry room. When Tracy began to scream after finding Joanne’s body, Caudle shot him. “I shot him in the back of the head and he was still alive, so I shot him in the front of the head.” Tracy was still breathing after being shot twice, and Caudle stuffed his nostrils with earplugs to expedite his stepfather’s death. He then dragged the bodies of his parents into their bedroom and closed the door.
Caudle drove his stepfather’s truck to school the following morning. In the afternoon, he drove the vehicle to visit his uncle’s house in another county, though he was pulled over after driving erratically. The same day, the bodies of Joanne and Tracy were found by Joanne’s father. Caudle confessed to the crimes during a taped interview with police.
At the conclusion of the confession, Detective Frank asked Caudle if he felt better “getting this off [his] chest”. Caudle replied, “I feel worse.”
Caudle was tried as an adult for the murders of his parents and faced the possibility of life in prison.
The defense argued Caudle had been abused by his mother and stepfather which had led to their murders. Testimony was presented by Colorado Bureau of Investigations agent Jodi Wright who interviewed Joanne’s mother, who called Joanne “too strict,” said she was “never fair,” had “isolated [Caudle] from other children,” and was “very controlling” of her son. A fellow detainee at the Pueblo Youth Detention Center where Caudle was held before his trial testified, “He said he felt more like a slave than a son,” a sentiment which Rio Grande County Undersheriff Charles Chick had heard in 2006. Caudle had run away from his mother’s house and, after Undersheriff Chick had found Caudle, stated “he was treated like a slave.”
The prosecution contended Caudle had planned to shoot his parents because he was resentful at his mother for asking him to perform his chores, and dismissed the thought the killings were in response to abuse. “In order to have self-defense,” Special Deputy District Attorney Dan Edwards told the court, “you have to have the imminent risk of serious bodily injury. There is no evidence of that. His reasoning was because he was called names. There is no question in this case that the defendant murdered his mother and stepfather with intent after deliberation.”
Caudle changed his plea to guilty of second-degree murder (for his stepfather’s death) and reckless manslaughter (for his mother) in March 2011. He was sentenced to 22 years in prison for Tracy’s death and 6 for Joanne’s, with the sentences to run concurrently.
“Monte Vista Teen Sentenced In Double Homicide.” CBS Denver. June 7, 2011. Accessed: October 26, 2020. https://denver.cbslocal.com/2011/06/07/monte-vista-teen-sentenced-in-double-homicide/
“John Caudle, 16, sentenced in slayings of mom, stepdad in 2009.” The Denver Post. June 7, 2011. Accessed: October 26, 2020. https://www.denverpost.com/2011/06/07/john-caudle-16-sentenced-in-slayings-of-mom-stepdad-in-2009/
“Del Norte Teen Pleads Guilty To Killing Mom, Stepdad.” CBS Denver. March 25, 2011. Accessed: October 26, 2020. https://denver.cbslocal.com/2011/03/25/del-norte-teen-pleads-guilty-to-killing-mom-stepdad/
Blevins, Jason. “John Caudle: Calculating murderer or battered kid?” The Denver Post. February 25, 2010. Updated: May 6, 2016. Accessed: October 26, 2020. https://www.denverpost.com/2010/02/25/john-caudle-calculating-murderer-or-battered-kid/
“Boy, 14, suspected of killing parents.” Times Herald [Port Huron, Michigan]. October 29, 2009