Dec. 22, 2008— -- A group of teenagers in North Carolina suspected of murdering a friend allegedly read him his fortune from tarot cards shortly before beating him in the head with a hammer, tying him up and suffocating him with duct tape, according to recently released search warrants.
Investigators say they are still searching for a motive in what they have called the bizarre killing of Matthew Silliman, an 18-year-old Eagle Scout whose body was found in an unoccupied trailer in rural North Carolina earlier this month.
Four friends of Silliman's -- Aadil Shaaid Kahn, 17, Allegra Rose Dahlquist, 17, Drew Logan Shaw, 16, and Ryan Patrick Hare, 18 -- have been charged with his murder.
All four suspects are being held without bond in the Wake County jail. They face up to life in prison if convicted. Lawyers and relatives of the four teens either did not immediately return calls or declined to comment.
According to police documents, three of the suspects confessed to some role in the murder and implicated the fourth defendant. Although court documents do not identify which suspects confessed, Hare's lawyer, Robert Padovano, said the other three suspects had given statements to the police, but Hare had not.
The murder has baffled the small community near Raleigh, N.C. Jason Waller, a Wake County Assistant District Attorney, said police and prosecutors were "definitely looking into" allegations that one of the suspects, Shaw, was affiliated with a group known as the juggalos, fans of the Detroit-based rap/hip-hop group Insane Clown Posse.
As first reported by ABC News station WTVD, some Insane Clown Posse lyrics appeared similar to the alleged crime.
According to WTVD, in the song "Murda Cloak," one line reads: "I tied a ***** up, I had to duct tape the ***** face." The song "Wax Museum" says: "It seems my cards of tarot have dealt you a very odd hand," and the song "Like It Like That" says: "Sometimes my dome feels like a cherry bomb. I gotta pound his ***** head with a hammer to keep him calm."
Influence of Violent Lyrics?
The Insane Clown Posse, whose style of music is sometimes referred to as "horrorcore," wear face paint and write songs that contain often violent lyrics. The San Francisco Chronicle once described their performance as a "laughably juvenile rap-metal/performance-art ensemble."
Though the term juggalos merely refers to fans of the group, some self-described juggalos have been linked to gangs and violent crimes, according to law enforcement officials and published news reports.
"Ninety percent are just true fans that casually enjoy the music. Some say they see each other as family because they can connect with one another, whether through Internet or concerts," said Det. Michelle Vasey of the Arizona Department of Law Enforcement's Gang Intelligence Unit, who said she has tracked the group's activities in Arizona for about two years.
"But there's so much constant violence and mayhem in the lyrics, and maybe 10 percent of these kids are going out there and starting to put graffiti out, committing gang-related crimes," she said.
The band says on its Web site that it does not condone violence.
"They use their Insane Clown personas to reflect on the insane world around them, and this world is indeed filled with violence. Their music is an expression of their experiences and ideas, and a reaction to violent emotions, not an endorsement of the violence itself," the Web site says. "For instance, when ICP tell stories of violent acts, they are just stories -- expressing an emotional response not intended to be seen as an actual suggestion."
Shaw describes himself on his MySpace page as "just a down a** juggalo."
'Bizarre' Teen Murder Case
Prosecutors say they are still piecing together what happened and why.
"It is bizarre when you get four teenagers and their friends in a situation like this," said Waller. "It's going to take some time to sort out what went on here. We're working through it."
The suspects told investigators that "they attempted to utilize medications commonly used for animals to plan the murder and read the deceased his fortune using tarot cards just prior to his death," a police search warrant affidavit says.
Police recovered burned incense and ashes, syringes, tarot cards and the drugs Potassium Bromide and Diazapam from the trailer, which was owned by Dahlquist's family. Potassium Bromide is a sedative and anti-convulsant sometimes used to treat seizures in dogs; Diazapam is the active chemical in Valium.
Police believe Silliman, who was reported missing by his parents on Thanksgiving, was killed Nov. 30. Alan O'Neal, his scoutmaster, described Silliman as "extremely creative, intelligent, with lots of energy and a great heart."
"He was always very caring for everybody around him. He would jump in and help with anything, he was very caring toward younger scouts," he said.
It is unclear how Silliman came to be at the trailer. In the months before his death, he dyed his hair red and began wearing what were described as "goth" clothing. He was briefly institutionalized, O'Neal confirmed, though it was not immediately clear why.