State troopers arrested two Cody teens a few miles from the scene of a triple homicide many are calling “senseless” that occurred about 11:15 a.m. Saturday in Clark.
Stephen Hammer, 19, and Tanner VanPelt, 18, have been booked in Park County jail in connection with the shooting deaths of a former West Park Hospital nurse Ildiko “Koko” Freitas, 40, and her parents, father Janos Volgyessi, 69, and mother Hildegard Volgyessi, 70.
A neighbor said Freitas and her husband John – who was away on business Saturday – were in the process of relocating to Loveland, Colo., but she was home taking care of her father who had recently suffered a heart attack.
The couple had no children, but lovingly cared for six Macaw parrots and many goats, cats and dogs.
Freitas was a 2011 University of Wyoming Outreach graduate who was listed on the dean’s honor roll.
Sheriff Scott Steward said the teenagers will be formally charged for the murders and other crimes 9 a.m. Tuesday in circuit court.
“This was nothing short of cold-blooded murder,” Steward added. He did not indicate what the motive could have been.
VanPelt graduated from Cody High School in 2012 and was a former “B” honor roll student and member of the choir for three years.
Officials could not say whether Hammer had ever attended school in Park County, but a high school student says he occasionally saw Hammer around town.
The reported triple homicide took place inside a home at 38 Big View Road next to the “Sugarloaf Butte.” The home is about five miles from the Belfry Highway past the Game and Fish Clarks Fork Hatchery near the town landfill.
“To get out here to Big View Road you really have to know where you are going,” neighbor Robert Bushman Jr. said. “We’re not on Google Maps.”
There are a total of four homes and a Kiwanis Club Hut along the dead-end gravel road. The area used to be owned by the railroad, but was subdivided into 40-acre lots many years ago.
A retired couple, who tend to keep an eye on the little traffic the street gets, told police they witnessed the teens arrive in a white vehicle and enter the home.
About 20 minutes later, they reported seeing one teen speed away in a black Audi that belonged to the homeowner and the second follow in the white car.
“They were just tearing down the road this time – trying to get out of there,” Bushman said of what his neighbors told him. “The dogs were chasing after them.”
About this time, Bushman said another neighbor and his friend were on their way home.
“They saw one of the dogs – a pitbull/boxer mix – that always seems to be getting out and stopped to pick the dog up,” Bushman said. “(The friend) went up to the house with the dog and saw the garage door still open.
“That was odd so he walked in and was calling, ‘Hello,’ when he saw a body laying on the ground,” Bushman added. “Then he saw blood and shell casings. He looked through an open door to the house and saw another body in the kitchen.
“That’s when he backed out, called the police and waited.”
A third body was found in the basement after deputies arrived on scene, Steward said. Vehicle descriptions were quickly broadcast to law enforcement.
“Troopers located the vehicles several miles from the scene and took both subjects into custody without incident,” Steward said.
The crime scene investigation is being conducted by members of the state crime lab and agents from the Division of Criminal Investigation.
In Clark, many question how this happened and why. Those who knew the victims say there was no reason for them to be killed.
“We were told little to begin with and don’t know much more now,” said Kurt McNabb, a pastor at the Bennett Creek Baptist Church in Clark. “Out here, it’s just bewilderment.”
“We are horrified that such a thing would have been done,” longtime Clark resident Sue Hoffert said. “We don’t expect anything like that to happen in this community.
“Now we are just looking for ways to help the family who has to deal with this.”
The reported triple homicide took place about one year after a woman in Cody was stabbed to death with a Phillips head screwdriver late Feb. 26, 2012.
Lifetime Clark resident Donald Tolman said the latest incident “makes us more cognizant of the changing world.”
“We don’t know neighbors up here as much as we used to, but we still felt secure,” he said. “And then this happens.
“Everyone here is going to be a little more anxious about people they don’t know,” he added. “We get quite a few people who are lost or want to go hunting or fishing. We are going to be more careful with them.”
(Heidi Hansen can be reached at email@example.com.)