Robert Lars Pape Photo courtesy Riverside County Sheriff’s Department
Robert Lars Pape
Photo courtesy Riverside County Sheriff’s Department

On Tuesday, March 11, investigators from the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department Central Homicde Unit arrested both Cristin Smith and Robert Pape. The following day, both men were charged with the 2006 triple murder of Jon Hayward, 55, Vicki Friedli, 53, and Vicki’s daughter, Becky Friedli, 18, in Pinyon Pines.

“I’m elated. Very, very happy, finally after seven-and-a-half years,” said Ron Friedli, Becky’s father and Vicki’s former husband. On Tuesday afternoon, Ron received a telephone call telling him about the arrests. He just had finished testifying before a criminal grand jury convened to investigate the case.

The death penalty may be invoked for one of the suspects if eventually found guilty.

Pape is Becky’s former boyfriend. Ron speculated that Pape’s motive was Becky’s breaking off of their relationship. “They had dated about a year earlier and he broke it off for another girl,” said Ron. In the spring of 2006, he wanted to resume the relationship.

Cristin Conrad Smith Photo courtesy Riverside County Sheriff’s Department
Cristin Conrad Smith
Photo courtesy Riverside County Sheriff’s Department

While dating, the other girl re-entered the picture, according to Ron. Escaping the situation, Becky went to live with her half-sister, but eventually returned to her mother’s home in Pinyon.

“If I can’t have her, no one can,” is how Ron described his interpretation of Pape’s motive.

An affidavit from the Riverside County District Attorney’s Office stated that Haywood died from a 12-gauge shotgun wound to the chest. Vicki’s death was caused from a wound to the head, possibly from a Glock handgun.

In October 2007, both a 12-gauge shotgun and a Glock handgun were found during a search of one of the suspect’s homes.

Hayward’s and Vicki’s bodies were found inside the burning house. Becky’s burning body was found in a wheelbarrow outside.

Javier Garcia, a friend of Becky’s, has said that she told him on the night of the murders that she was waiting for Pape and Smith. The three were going to take a hike.

Pape and Smith have claimed they decided not to hike that night. While they claimed their cell phones were off that night, “their cellular phone activity places them roughly in the proximity of the Friedli home before and after the time the victims were killed and the house set on fire, not near the locations they claimed to be at,” according to the affidavit.

The DA’s release also adds, “a business card was found [at the crime scene] on which investigators located DNA that matches Smith, who claims to have never been to the Friedli home. The chance that such a DNA match could happen at random is one in 320,000.”

In December 2013, the Sheriff’s Central Homicide Unit presented its case to the DA for a potential filing decision. After its review, the DA’s office decided to constitute a criminal grand jury to review the case. The grand jury proceedings remain confidential until the indictments are unsealed, according to John Hall, senior public information specialist for the DA.

The murder counts for Hayward’s and Vicki’s deaths have enhancements of personal use of a firearm. A special circumstance allegation for both defendants also alleges multiple murders. That allegation makes Pape eligible for the death penalty, according to the DA’s Office. DA Paul Zellerbach will make that decision later.

Smith was a 17-year-old juvenile at the time of the murder and therefore is not eligible for the death penalty, according to the DA’s press release.

While Ron acknowledged that the fire probably destroyed significant evidence, which prolonged the investigation, he credited the work of private investigator Luis A. Bolaños, who has been investigating the case for more than two years, with helping to arrive at this step.

Bolaños said he used more than 70 volunteers, and keeping the story in the forefront made a difference. Yet no one could explain why it took this many years to bring a charge.

“I knew this information right from the beginning — within two years,” Bolaños said. “I received phone calls and some witnesses were never interviewed. I have no answer, but I’m glad with today’s results.”

Smith was arrested at the Palm Springs Airport and Pape arrested in Salton City. Both subjects were booked for homicide at the Robert Presley Detention Center in Riverside, according to Deputy Albert Martinez, public information officer for the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department.