Crime & Courts

Warrants: Teens read tarot cards before killing Eagle Scout

RALEIGH, N.C. -- Four teenagers charged with Matthew Silliman's death foretold his future using tarot cards, beat him on the head with a hammer, bound him with zip ties, and suffocated him with duct tape, according to search warrants unsealed late Wednesday.

Wake County sheriff's investigators found Silliman's body in a plastic bag on the bathroom floor of a mobile home in the New Hill community in southwestern Wake County on Dec. 2. The 18-year-old Eagle Scout was last seen at his Apex home Nov. 25.

Deputies seized burned incense and ashes from the mobile home where his body was, according to the warrants.

On Tuesday, a Wake County grand jury indicted Drew Logan Shaw, 16, Ryan Patrick Hare, 18, and Aadil Shahid Khan, 17, all of Apex, and Allegra Rose Dahlquist, 17, of Cary, on charges of murder in Silliman's death. The teens were linked by friends and courtships, and through social networking Web sites.

Although the search warrants do not name Dahlquist and Khan, they say that suspects living at their addresses confessed and implicated other people. One of the other suspects also confessed, according to the warrants, though which was unclear.

Suspects told Apex police that they attempted to use "medications commonly used for animals to plan the murder and read the deceased his fortune using tarot cards just prior to his death," the search warrants stated.

Wake investigators searched the homes and computers of the teens and a 2003 Toyota 4Runner, according to the court papers. They also took diazepam bottles from the mobile home. An overdose of the drug, a tranquilizer also known by the trade name Valium, can cause sleepiness or loss of consciousness, according to the Mayo Clinic.

The dozen warrants unsealed by Wake Superior Court Judge Donald Stephens did not spell out a motive for the crime. Authorities are combing through statements made by all four suspects to make sense of what happened, said Melanie Shekita and Jason Waller, Wake assistant district attorneys assigned to the case.

"I'm not even sure we understand it yet," Shekita said.

Dahlquist's defense attorney, Joe Cheshire of Raleigh, said Wednesday night that his client has admitted to participating in Silliman's death. He described her as remorseful and "having a really hard time."

"She's in adult jail. Her whole world is gone. Emotionally, she's a little girl who rode horses and helped with a pet-sitting service. She's not a bad person," said Cheshire.

All four teens are being held at the Wake County jail without bond. The attorneys and parents of the other suspects declined to speak or could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

Khan, Dahlquist and Silliman were all students at Apex High; Hare and Shaw attended Panther Creek High School.

Silliman and the suspects are from quiet, suburban neighborhoods whose residents are shocked by their arrests. The unoccupied mobile home where Silliman's body was found is owned by Dahlquist's family. The group of teens sometimes hung out there and played paintball in the surrounding woods.

It took authorities a day to confirm the deceased was Silliman. Arrests came even before authorities had identified Silliman's body.

An autopsy report that would fully describe Silliman's injuries is not complete, said Sharon Artis of the state Medical Examiner's Office. Wake County Sheriff Donnie Harrison said Wednesday that a preliminary report indicated the cause of death was asphyxiation.

-- The (Raleigh, N.C.) News and Observer