WARWICK, R.I. -- A 15-year-old boy was ordered held Monday in the Labor Day weekend killings of a mother and her two daughters and was also charged in the unsolved 1987 slaying of a woman who lived on his street.
Craig C. Price, a former football lineman at his high school, showed little emotion as he was brought handcuffed to his arraignment in Family Court. Security was tight due to death threats against him.
His court-appointed lawyer waived a reading of the charges against him, but Judge Carmine DiPetrillo revealed later that Price had been charged with the July 1987 slaying of Rebecca Spencer, 28, as well as the Labor Day weekend slayings of Joan M. Heaton, 39, and her daughters Jennifer, 10, and Melissa, 8. He was also charged with two counts of burglary.
Price lives two doors from the home Spencer lived in and one street away from the Heaton home in the quiet, middle-class Buttonwoods section of the city. He was arrested at his home Sunday by police armed with a search warrant.
Police allege Price entered the Heaton home by removing a screen on a rear window, then beat and stabbed the family to death. Their bodies were discovered in the Metropolitan Drive home by relatives on Labor Day.
Spencer was stabbed to death by a nighttime intruder.
DiPetrillo ordered Price held at the state juvenile detention facility in Cranston pending a hearing Thursday. The suspect, wearing a T-shirt and stone-washed jeans, sat next to his father, John, at the arraignment. His mother, Shirley, sat behind him.
At an afternoon news conference, Police Chief Wesley Blanchard said a hand injury initially led investigators to focus on Price as a suspect. At first, Price 'satisfactorily explained' the injury, described as a cut consistent with a knife wound, but investigators determined the explanation was inaccurate, Blanchard said.
The chief said Price made incriminating statements to investigators that 'very stongly implicate himself and no others in both cases.'
Blanchard said his officers recovered 'weapons,' though he was not specific. He declined to comment on a possible motive, but said it did not appear the killings were related to drugs or satanism, as had been rumored.
'He is a good kid, a normal kid. I still don't think he did this,' said Scott Putman, 18, who said he lived at the Price home for two weeks recently, including the weekend when the Heatons were killed.
Putman said Price played sports partly because he was 'hyperactive' and earned the nickname 'iron head' on the field. 'When he hit you, he usually hit you with his head and it hurt,' Putman said.
Attorney General James O'Neil said the state cannot try Price as an adult because state law dictates he must be 16 or older. If convicted, he could be detained at the juvenile detention until his 21st birthday, O'Neil said.