Four teenagers — one armed with a machete and another with a knife — picked an isolated home at random and entered it intending to kill in a middle-of-the-night attack that left a woman dead and her daughter seriously injured, a prosecutor said Tuesday.
Kimberly Cates, 42, was killed in her bed early Sunday morning while her husband was away on a business trip. A neighbor said their 11-year-old daughter, Jaime, is in a Boston hospital and expected to live.
The killing stunned Mont Vernon, a rural town of about 2,000 residents near the Massachusetts border where Cates worked as a nurse.
The teens were arrested Monday and made brief court appearances late Tuesday morning in nearby Milford. They entered no pleas, and spoke only briefly to say either that they had no questions or planned to request court-appointed lawyers.
Steven Spader, 17, and Christopher Gribble, 19, both of Brookline, were charged with first-degree murder, conspiracy to commit murder and attempted murder and were ordered held without bail. William Marks, 18, and Quinn Glover, 17, both of Amherst, were charged with burglary, conspiracy to commit burglary and robbery and were ordered held on $500,000 cash bail.
Authorities released few details and sealed the affidavits supporting the charges.
Spader is accused of driving the teens to Cates' neighborhood sometime before 4 a.m. Sunday and cutting her with a machete in the head, torso, arms and legs. Gribble is accused of stabbing her with a knife. Both are accused of attacking Cates' daughter.
The teens picked the home at random and because it was on an isolated road, but all four knew of the plan to kill whoever was home, Assistant Attorney General William Delker said in court.
"Mr. Glover entered this home knowing that the participants intended to kill the occupants of the home if anyone was present. He entered the home armed with a deadly weapon, the homeowner was killed in her bed, and a young child was seriously injured," Delker said.
Kimberly Cates' husband, David, was out of town at time of the attack and flew back to be with his daughter, said next-door neighbor Yuki Chorney. Chorney said the two families moved to the neighborhood at about the same time in 2003, and Jaime Cates' frequently played with her daughter.
A town in shock
"We moved here because we wanted to live in a quiet, rural town where everybody knows everybody," Chorney said, holding back tears.
She said Kimberly Cates was meticulous about safety and locking doors, though she left windows open for air in the summer.
"The entire town is in shock," she said.
Deputy House Speaker Linda Foster has lived in Mont Vernon for 40 years and raised three sons there. She called it "a picture-perfect town."
Foster said she started locking her doors when a home on Main Street was robbed two decades ago. She attended Tuesday's arraignment.
"I had to see the faces of the people who ripped out the heart and soul of this community," she said. "These are not kids that came up from the big bad city. These are kids who grew up beside you. It's evil."
Glover's attorney described his client as a B student with no criminal record.
John David, 67, of Amherst, belongs to the same church as Glover's family and has known them for about five years.
He said Glover was a talented singer and guitar player who often performed at church functions, but said "he's always been a little bit withdrawn, maybe moody. Somewhat rebellious."
"We're totally astonished and in disbelief that this could be the boy we know," he said.
Two of the teens also were arraigned Tuesday on earlier charges. Marks pleaded not guilty to having marijuana in his car last month; Spader pleaded not guilty to pot possession on the same date.