Tragedy grips community: Two Pocatello High students accused of killing

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POCATELLO – Bail was set Thursday at $1 million each for two teens charged with fatally stabbing 16-year-old Cassie Jo Stoddart, writes Jimmy Hancock in today’s Idaho State Journal.

Hancock wrote:
Brian Lee Draper and Torey Michael Adamcik, both 16, were arrested late Wednesday and were each charged with one count of first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit first-degree murder. The two Pocatello High School students were arrested after taking polygraphs, or lie-detector tests, Wednesday.

“The parents brought them in to be polygraphed and during the interviews of that and (with) other evidence we had received, that’s when, for the lack of a better word, the dominoes began to fall,” said Bannock County Sheriff Lorin Nielsen.
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Tragedy grips community: Two Pocatello High students accused of killing classmate
By Jimmy Hancock – Journal Writer

POCATELLO – Bail was set Thursday at $1 million each for two teens charged with fatally stabbing 16-year-old Cassie Jo Stoddart.

Brian Lee Draper and Torey Michael Adamcik, both 16, were arrested late Wednesday and were each charged with one count of first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit first-degree murder. The two Pocatello High School students were arrested after taking polygraphs, or lie-detector tests, Wednesday.

“The parents brought them in to be polygraphed and during the interviews of that and (with) other evidence we had received, that’s when, for the lack of a better word, the dominoes began to fall,” said Bannock County Sheriff Lorin Nielsen.

Nielsen said the boys did not confess to the murder but were “cooperative.” Although still minors, the two were charged as adults.

“They will be treated for all intents and purposes from today forward as adults,” said Bannock County Prosecutor Mark Hiedeman. “Idaho law allows any murder case, even though it’s against juveniles, to be charged as adults.”

Stoddart, a Pocatello High School junior, was housesitting for relatives in the 2 1/2 Mile Road neighborhood in Bannock County northeast of Chubbuck. She was found dead Sunday around 1 p.m. when those relatives returned home from a weekend away.

Police held the cause of death close as they investigated the murder, but Thursday authorities revealed the girl was stabbed todeath, likely Friday night. Although he would not give a precise timeline of events, Nielsen did give a loose idea of the comings and goings that night.

“The mother dropped off (Stoddart) and her boyfriend at the residence,” Nielsen said. “Two of their friends came over and they spent some time together. They allegedly had left. The boyfriend had also left with his parents late in the evening.”

Nielsen said the two friends were Adamcik and Draper, but he wouldn’t say what time they returned and allegedly killed Stoddart. He also had something to say about the boyfriend.

“I know there has been an awful lot of speculation about her boyfriend who was there,” Nielsen said. “As of right now we have not found evidence to connect him to this.”
Torey Adamcik

Nielsen went on to say the boyfriend, whose name has not been released because he is a minor, is not a prime suspect, but is a person of interest similar to other people surrounding the case including the family member who found Stoddart Sunday.

Nielsen said the boyfriend took a polygraph test and was found to be “not deceptive.”

By Thursday afternoon Draper and Adamcik were in front of Sixth District Judge O. Lynn Brower for an initial hearing. The boys were seen in the courtroom via closed-circuit television. Brower informed the two of the charges against them and then turned to attorneys to discuss bail.

The Bannock County Prosecutor’s Office said earlier in the day it would seek $1 million bail for each teen. In Brower’s court, however, Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Zachary Parris asked the judge to withhold bail entirely.
Brian Draper

Parris cited the heinous nature of the crime, concerns for the safety of the community as well as the safety of Draper and Adamcik as reasons the two should remain in custody. He also mentioned concerns over the two fleeing.

The attorneys for Adamcik and Draper, Bron Rammell and David Martinez, both of Pocatello, requested the boys be released on their own recognizance or $100,000 bail maximum. Brower set the bail at $1 million each giving no explanation for the amount.

Although Idaho law allows a death sentence for first-degree murder, because of their age, the maximum penalty the teens are facing is life in prison, said Vic Pearson, of the Bannock County prosecutor’s office.

Also in the courtroom were several Pocatello High School students. While they all said they knew Adamcik only in passing, a couple of the students knew Draper very well.

“Brian would brag last year that he plans different ways to get away with murder,” said Skyler Pulley, a 16-year-old sophomore. “He always wanted to stab someone. He also talked about doing a school shooting.”

Pulley said no one ever reported this talk to authorities as far as he knew. He said it might be because Draper was also considered a class clown of sorts.

“He was the guy always pulling a practical joke,” Pulley said.

Neither Nielsen nor Hiedeman at a press conference Thursday would give information about their case against the two youths, saying it would compromise their ability to prosecute them.

Hiedeman said he must think about the whole process including that time when jury selection comes.

“We don’t want to taint a jury any more than we have to,” Hiedeman said. “Press conferences like this will taint a jury enough without us talking about any lurid details or any evidence we may have to present. We want a jury to be able to see that and hear that for the first time in court and not to see it on the front page of the paper.”

One teen once lived near site of two-year-old murder

By Greg McReynolds – Journal City Editor

POCATELLO – The gray two-story house where Torey Adamcik grew up sits unoccupied on a quiet street lined with mail boxes and pickup trucks.

From the upper windows of his former home at 835 Nixon St. there is an almost direct line of sight to the small white house less than 100 yards away where Nori Jones was found dead two years ago Thursday. Jones’ murder remains unsolved.

Adamcik, 16, was one of two teens charged Thursday with first-degree murder in the killing of Cassie Jo Stoddart. He moved away from the house last year and new owners purchased the home.

Stoddart, a 16-year-old Pocatello High School student, was killed almost exactly two years after Jones and while police have yet to reveal many details of Stoddart’s death, police acknowledge that both died in violent stabbings.

Pocatello Police Chief Ed Guthrie did note the anniversary of Jones’ death during a press conference Thursday, but didn’t go any further.

“What I can say is we have found nothing of evidentiary value that connects these two incidents,” he said. “We have found nothing to connect them.”

Vic Pearson, Bannock County assistant chief criminal deputy attorney, also said there was currently no connection between the cases.

While police downplayed any connection between the two murders Thursday, neighbors in the area were left wondering about the similarities between the two deaths.

“I can see her house from my house,” said Lynette Chavez, who used to live next door to Adamcik.

She remembers Nori Jones as the woman who came to her daughter’s rescue.

“About a year before (Nori’s) death, my 12-year-old daughter was hit by a car,” Chavez said.

She said Nori is the one who called her at work.

“She was just so calm,” Chavez said. “She was our angel. Nori just held her the whole time until the ambulances got there. I still have a picture of me and her and my daughter on my fridge.”

Besides remembering Jones as an angel, Chavez also remembers the fear that accompanied Jones’ death.

“Detectives told me whoever did it knew her schedule,” she said. “I’ve always felt like if someone knew and was watching, it could be a neighbor … It just makes you wonder.”

Teens shocked at identity of accused

By Casey Santee – Journal Writer

POCATELLO – News that two Pocatello High School students were in jail for the murder of a classmate spread across campus like wildfire after school Thursday.

As students discussed the arrests of Brian Draper, 16, and Torey Adamcik, 16, their collective reaction was of shock and anger.

The PHS juniors are charged with first-degree murder for allegedly stabbing 16-year-old Cassie Stoddart to death while she was housesitting for relatives on Whispering Cliffs Drive this weekend. Her aunt and uncle discovered Stoddart’s body when they returned home from vacation Sunday afternoon.

Senior Mellyssa Swan attended classes with the suspects and didn’t notice anything unusual about them.

“This is my senior year and since I’ve been here nothing like this has happened,” Swan said. “It makes you think of reality. Life could be over in a second.”

Swan said one of the counselors approached her after she heard about the arrests.

“I had a look of shock,” Swan said. “I got lightheaded. I knew Cassie, too. She was sweet and generous.”

PHS Principal Don Cotant said it will take students and staff time to heal from the week’s traumatic events. He said it is disturbing to learn such serious issues exist between students.

“We don’t know what precipitated this,” Cotant said. “We are very saddened – not only for the victim, but also for the families of those arrested.”

Senior Jason Allmond said he couldn’t believe anyone could be driven to commit such a violent crime.

“I’m at a loss of words right now,” Allmond said. “A bunch of questions are running through my head right now – mostly why. Why her? Why someone so young?”

Victim’s uncle: Family relieved at arrests

By Casey Santee – Journal Writer

POCATELLO – The family of slain 16-year-old Cassie Stoddart struggled with a flurry of emotions Thursday following the arrest of two of her classmates on first-degree murder charges.

Cassie’s uncle, Paul Sisneros, said family members were stunned and relieved that the alleged killers – Torey Adamcik, 16, and Brian Draper, 16 – were in police custody. Of course, they also felt anger toward the suspects.

“We hope they caught the guys responsible,” said Sisneros, who is speaking on behalf of Cassie’s mother, Anna Stoddart, and her stepfather, Victor Price. “It’s pretty shocking if that’s the case. A couple young kids. If it was them, we hope they get the maximum penalty.”

Sisneros said there have been so many developments since the discovery of Cassie’s stabbed body Sunday afternoon, that the family hasn’t had time to mourn. However, in the midst of the chaos, non-stop calls of support from family and friends were a constant reminder of how many lives Cassie touched.

“It’s been good just to hear from people,” Sisneros said. “We’re all going to get through this. It’s a touchy subject. Especially with how brutal it was.”

A memorial to Cassie painted by her fellow students on a boulder outside Pocatello High School also offered family members some comfort.

Cassie’s father, Ronald Stoddart, of Los Angeles, and his wife, Yolanda Stoddart, of Pocatello, saw the tribute while driving along South Arthur Avenue Thursday morning. They slowed down and thanked several art students still working on the memorial in the autumn sunshine.

Ronald Stoddart said he was in a state of denial when Bannock County Sheriff Lorin Nielsen told him over the phone that Cassie was the victim of a possible homicide. When he arrived in Pocatello from Los Angeles Tuesday, Nielsen confirmed Stoddart’s worst fear.

“I feel empty,” Stoddart said. “We’re very relieved they caught the perpetrators, but my biggest emotion now is anger.”

Pointing to a photo of Cassie on a shirt pin he was wearing, Stoddart noted how beautiful his daughter was.

“They took that from her because of a selfish act that I don’t understand,” Stoddart said.