Teens Accused of Killing Grandparents for Their Inheritance

Brendan Lee Johnson and his girlfriend, Cassandra Ann Rieb, face first-degree murder charges for doing the unthinkable: strangling Brendan's grandparents to death. Cops say Brendan, who is 19, admitted that he and 18-year-old Cassandra made plans in early May to sneak into his 70-year-old grandparents' Colorado home and smother them with pillows while they were asleep. As if this isn't horrifying enough, things got even more twisted when Charles and Shirley Severance put up a fight after realizing their own flesh and blood was trying to murder them.


The teens somehow believed they could get away with killing the elderly couple so that Brendan could inherit $20,000 and their small house, worth about $47,000, according to reports. Guessing Brendan and Cassandra either planned to split the money or live as outlaw lovers constantly on the run because police say Cassandra told them she and Brendan agreed to split the job: "One gets one and one gets the other."

After sneaking into the Severances' house early in the morning, grandpa woke up and fought off his grandson's attempt to suffocate him. The teen told cops he then resorted to choking Charles, and it is thought he ultimately died of a heart attack.

Meanwhile, Shirley offered the teens the combination to their safe, but that wasn't good enough for them. Both Brendan and Cassandra strangled his grandmother and then Brendan took a knife from the kitchen and stabbed her, according to reports.

And now for their insane post-murder plans: they reportedly cleaned the house, gathered up "evidence," and fled to Nebraska. They say they wanted to cut up and burn both bodies, but Charles' corpse proved too heavy to carry. They instead ended up burning Shirley's body in a fire pit and later unearthing it and taking part of it with them to Nebraska.

Police discovered Charles' body nine days later.

How could this young man betray his family and hurt them in such a significant way? I can't even imagine how Brendan's mother, who is Shirley's daughter, feels knowing her son and his girlfriend took away one of the most important people in her universe. It's just sickening.

In addition to murder, the teens face aggravated robbery, forgery, and theft charges and are being held without bond.

What could have gone wrong here to drive Brendan and Shirley to even consider murdering his grandparents?


Image via Dustin Moore/Flickr

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