Teen Killed by Neighbor When He Sneaked Into the Wrong House After Partying

Caleb GordleyHe was being a normal teenager. Sneaking out of the house, disobeying his parents, dabbling in rebellion. Caleb Gordley wanted to go to a party last Saturday, but his plans got snuffed out when his mom and dad grounded him for not cleaning his room.

But, in authentic teenage hardheadedness, he went anyway. There, the 16-year-old started drinking—to the point of being drunk—and when his friends dropped him off after their night of festivities, he stumbled to a window to sneak back up to his bedroom.

Except his friends dropped him off at the wrong house, and he was too wasted to notice, particularly since this home, like many in housing communities that have popped up around the country, looked almost exactly like the one he lived in two doors down. 

He triggered the alarm and the homeowner, Donald West Wilder II, came out to investigate. He didn’t know Caleb, and he fatally shot him on the staircase that the boy mistakenly believed was leading up to his room.

Speculation is running rampant about what really happened in those wee hours of the morning, around 2 a.m., when no one else was awake and a man was startled out of his sleep by a teenager staggering around in the lower level of his home.

Was the kid really so much of a threat that the only option was to shoot him? Could there have been another way to respond to the situation, especially considering the shooter had been a volunteer firefighter for 20 years and had ostensibly been trained to deal with threatening, even dangerous situations? 

Then again, the anxiety of fear and the element of surprise can rattle even the most level-headed emergency responder when the drama is unfolding in their own home.

Caleb’s parents, who are ever so gracious, have publicly acknowledged that the shooting was a terrible accident and have forgiven Wilder for killing their son. They’re grieving the senseless loss of Caleb’s life, but I can’t begin to imagine the guilt that their neighbor must be feeling. It’s a loss for everyone and for at least three people, life will never be exactly like it was before last Saturday night.

My heart goes out, but I hope this is all there is to the story.

Do you think gun laws should protect Wilder from prosecution? 

accidents, crime, death, guns, in the news

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Kzint... KzintiFeline

I don't understand why he would be prosecuted.  He shot an intruder that broke into his home during the middle of the night.  There was no way he could know the intent of the intruder.  I would certainly use deadly force if I woke up to find an intruder in my home in the middle of the night.

sand008 sand008

Its an unfortunate situation, and its a perfect scenario to protect yourself from an intruder.I think this article should of focused more on underage drinking. Not gun laws.

miche... micheledo

Yes, he should be protected.


Instead of talking about gun laws, why not talk about teens doing drugs and drinking??  This kid made a stupid choice - the first one was going against his parents.  If he had done the right thing, NONE of this would have happened.

Mrscj... Mrscjones

how about you hell stop before you kill somebody. He was a drunk teenager who probably could barely walk and you think shooting someone who was taking anything or harassing its ok because he had the nerve to act like a teenager

Angie... AngieHayes

It was an unfortunate situation, too bad guns aren't illegal.

mleil... mleilanim

Are you kidding? I seriously SERIOUSLY hope your mind is not so flipping twisted that you're actually suggesting we blame the homeowner here? This kid was being rebellious, period. It might be a practice amongst SOME teens but it is definitely not NORMAL to sneak out of your house. Had he listened to his parents he'd be alive right now. Hell why don't you just blame his friends while you're writing your next award worthy piece? You're beyond ridiculous.

And as for the above comment....yeah lets outlaw guns so then only the outlaws have them. Your intelligence cup must have been split with the authors.

Laura Jerpseth

Victim blaming. Victim blaming everywhere.


Have fun if your child gets killed doing the same thing this teen did.

NoR_C... NoR_CaL_MoMmY

What an unfortunate situation. I believe he will be protected since an intruder came into his home. It was self defense. The guy was awoken from a dead sleep and probably was so freaked out that he just shot him. Yes, he could have tried to talk to the intruder but clearly he was scared and in the moment did what he thought was best. My question though is if he set off an alarm why did the kid keep try to walk upstairs? It's very sad for all involved. This man will never forgive himself. He spent his life saving lives. Running into burning building as people are running out. He shouldn't get jail time for this. A lot of burglars carry guns and if u don't shoot them first, they will shoot you. He probably thought he was just protecting himself :(

nonmember avatar k

I know the first thing I'd do if there was an intruder in my home in the dead of night would be to have a conversation with them ... "Would you like a cup if tea before we sit down, sir?" (!!?!) People are crazy if they think Wilder did anything wrong. My house, my family; shoot first, ask questions later.

zandh... zandhmom2

It's a sad situation but I don't think the homeowner is in the wrong.  He had ever righ to protect his home and family from someone he didn't know coming into his home in the middle of the night. 

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