Thursday, October 9, 2008

Broken Circle of Friends

by Connie Park

There is a quadruple murder trial going on here in Harris County, Texas, involving friends from Clear Lake High School—located in a suburb outside of Houston.

Residents of the upper-class neighborhood never feared violent crimes occurring. Until July 18, 2003, that is, when four young lives were taken from the community and families were changed forever.

Christine Paolilla, now 22, is on trial not only for the death of her best friend Rachael Koloroutis, 18, but also for three more victims who were shot multiple times and left for dead in their homes. Paolilla is facing life in prison since she was only seventeen at the time of the murders. In opening statements, Harris County prosecutor Rob Freyer stated that Paolilla shot her best friend, Koloroutis (pictured right), then returned to the home and pistol whipped her as she was crawling to get to the phone to call 911. The other murder victims were 18-year-old Tiffany Rowell, her 19-year-old boyfriend Marcus Precella, and his cousin Adelbert Sanchez, 21.

According to Sgt. Tom Ladd, a veteran homicide investigator for nearly three decades with the Houston Police Department, was taken aback from the “gory scene” where the victims were found in their home. He stated that all the victims sustained multiple gunshot wounds and that there were over 20 shots fired.

Investigators initially believed the murders were drug-related. According to witnesses, Sanchez and Precella were selling drugs out of their house and there were people in and out of the house. Investigators interviewed witness after witness and followed up with leads until all leads were exhausted. There was even a $100,000 reward raised by family members and friends for any information leading up to the murder charges of their loved ones.

As months went by, investigators diligently continued following up leads and any tips they would receive. Until one day in 2006, investigators received the call they were waiting for. The investigation led to Christine Paolilla and her boyfriend,
Christopher Snider, who were developed as suspects. On July 20, 2006, approximately three years to the date of the murders, Paolilla was arrested in San Antonio. Snider committed suicide in Greenville, South Carolina shortly after he learned he was charged with the quadruple murders.

Paolilla in her st
atement to Sgt. Breck McDaniel stated that Snider forced her to shoot and kill her friends and that she was afraid he would kill her if she didn’t. Defense attorney Mike DeGeurin (pictured left with Christine) told jurors in his opening statement stated that Paolilla was "a lost, sad little girl, alone in the world and she was influenced by bad guys who became her boyfriends.” He further went on to state that after Snider finished firing his gun, he forced a pistol into Paolilla’s hand and made her shoot the victims. Paolilla stated she heard multiple gunshots and heard the girls screaming. She just wanted the gunfire to stop. Paolilla stated that Snider held the gun in her hand and made her shoot her friends.

After Paolilla left the house, she went to work at Walgreen’s in Seabrook, Texas. She started crying and became hysterical when she saw blood on her hands.

But years later, after Paolilla married, she gave her husband, Justin Rott, another version of how the murders took place. According to Rott, Paolilla told him that she went back to the house after the shooting and found that Koloroutis was still alive. Rott said that Paolilla finished the job by beating Koloroutis to death while she was gasping and choking on her own blood. Cell phone records revealed Koloroutis attempted to call 911 on her cell phone at 3:12 p.m., a few minutes before she died.

Closing arguments will begin next week and one can only hope that justice will prevail.


Donna Pendergast said...


Small world. Sgt.Ladd and his brother were both witnesses on my Coral Watts case in Michigan. They both came up and testified to similar acts from Houston

Donna Pendergast said...

I forgot to mention----if you ever see him around tell him "The Queen Bee" said hello. I guarantee that his jaw will hit the floor. That was the term that he coined for me during the Watts case. Not originally intended as a term of affection-----I think that he later grudgingly came to like/respect me in his own gruff way----at any rate the nickname stuck.

FleaStiff said...

So was it drug related? And if the kids were rich, why were drug profits such a big deal anyway?

Upscale neighborhoods do not mean upscale moral values. Unfortunately.

Anonymous said...

FleaStiff said...
So was it drug related? And if the kids were rich, why were drug profits such a big deal anyway?

The home belonged to Tiffany's father who is a music professor at a nearby college.
She was living there until she finished high school so that she wouldn't have to transfer.

I worked with Tiffany and she confided in me that Marcus had been selling drugs and that she was tired of the whole scene and had tried to break up with him but that he became absolutely distraught since they were high school sweethearts.

She decided to give it another go. This was no more than three weeks before the killings.