The Murder of Rick and Suzanna Wamsley
On December 11, 2003 Rick and Suzanna Wamsley were found shot and stabbed inside their Mansfield Texas home. A 9-1-1 call had come from the home around 11:40 pm but no one had spoken and it appeared the caller had hung up. Police arrived at the home some four minutes later. They first attempted to receive an answer at the front door but when that failed they discovered the garage door was open. Once inside they also found the door leading into the home was open. Officers went inside. They found Suzanna Wamsley dead on the living room couch. She had a gun shot wound near her left ear and a medical examination would show she had been stabbed close to twenty times in the chest and neck. The stab wounds would be found to be postmortem. Suzanna's husband, Rick would be found near the front door of the home. He had been shot in the face, as well as in the back. He too was stabbed nearly twenty times.
Rick and Suzanna had been married in 1978 and had two children, Sarah and Andrew. It was said that the family was fairly wealthy and their children had been given pretty much anything they wanted or needed, well until lately. Many would later say that when it came to their children the couple were very strict in their rearing and that as the children grew up so did the tensions between the parents and the children. Sarah had apparently had issues with drugs as well as mental health issues. It was unclear whether she was living in the home at the time the murders occurred. As far as nineteen year old Andrew, he had moved out of the home after it seems that his parents had not approved of his relationship with his new girlfriend, Chelsea Richardson. Some say that the disapproval came from the fact that Chelsea did not come from a prestigious family or in layman's terms she was from “the wrong side of the tracks.” Rick and Suzanna had essentially cut their son off financially but that may not have been solely because of Chelsea as it seems Andrew and his parents had other issues as well.
Andrew was now living with Chelsea with at least her mother, if not her father also, that was unclear, as well as a good friend of Chelsea's, Susana Toledano. Susana was living in the Richardson home because she had own issues with her mother. She was still in high school and by most accounts she had become overly dependent on Chelsea and her family not just for a home but for transportation to her job and other places.
It appears that at least by the following March, although there had been no arrests, or apparently leads in the case that at least one person suspected that Andrew was involved in the deaths of his parents. His sister, Sarah, had filed a petition in the court to block Andrew from inheriting his parents' estate saying she suspected that he was responsible. The estate was said to be worth about $1.5 million but research was sketchy as to whether this was their worth as in assets or whether the bulk of this was in the form of life insurance. Of course we hear stories every day in which people are killed for insurance benefits so on the surface it does not matter. However, I am curious because determining this would give a better idea as to the wealth in which the family had and the lifestyle in which the children were raised.
On April 5th nineteen year old, Susana Toledano was arrested on a warrant from Texas while she was in Illinois and charged in the murders of the Wamsley's. I am a little unclear just how this came about. It would later be said that forensics showed that several strands of hair in Rick Wamsley's hand was matched through DNA to Toledano but just how they had her DNA in the first place seems to be unclear as well as how things led to her. At any rate, Toledano was sent back to Texas but not before talking to authorities. The following day twenty-four year old, Hilario Cardenas, an IHOP manager, was also arrested. Two days later Andrew Wamsley and Chelsea Richardson were arrested as well.
It would be Toledano's story that would lead to the other arrests in the case. According to Toledano a conspiracy to murder Rick and Suzanna Wamsley began two months prior to their deaths. She would claim that Andrew and Chelsea had been the masterminds and that they had all but guilted and pushed her to commit the act. She would also say that a previous attempt had been made and that Andrew's sister Sarah was also in the original plot of murder. The motive of course was the vast estate that Andrew would inherit upon not just the deaths of his parents, but also his sister. Toledano said the plot was openly discussed at length and it was Hilario Cardenas that had provided the gun and also helped in the planning. The original plan had failed when in November Andrew had taken Toledano out and there was an attempt to shoot at the couple's vehicle's gas tank as it was moving. Inside were Rick, Suzanna and Sarah. There had been a police report of the incident but there were no leads and nothing had ever come of it.
On the night of the murders Toledano claimed that she, Chelsea and Andrew had entered the Wamsley home using the garage door opener at around three in the morning. They had found Suzanna sleeping on the couch in the living room. She was shot in the head and died almost instantly. From the master bedroom Rick had heard the shot and gotten out of bed. As Toledano, and apparently the others, headed towards the door he was headed their way. He was shot in the head but he still kept coming and started to fight Toledano. According to her, while they were wrestling she had dropped the gun and Chelsea had picked it up and shot him again in the back. It appears that he was still breathing even at that point but had stopped fighting, or really even moving. The group went into the kitchen and retrieved a knife. They started stabbing Rick and then apparently deciding that since he had been more difficult to kill than they had expected they should make sure Suzanna was also dead and began stabbing her also.
In January of 2005 Toledano would plead guilty to murder. Part of her agreement required that she testify against Andrew and Chelsea. She would be sentenced in May of 2006 to life in prison with parole after thirty years. She is eligible for parole in 2034.
Hilario Cardenas was originally thought to have been more involved than he was and his charges were reduced from their original. He too would plead guilty to conspiracy to commit murder. He was sentenced on the same day as Toledano and receive a sentence of fifty years. He first became eligible for parole apparently in 2009 to which it was denied. The same resulted at hearings in 2014 and 2016. His next hearing is in June of 2017. However, the Department of Corrections shows his projected release as being in August of 2024.
Andrew and Chelsea were both offered plea deals that would have resulted in life sentences but they both chose to go to trial where the prosecutor was asking for the death penalty. Chelsea would go on trial in May of 2005. A few fellow inmates testified at her trial that she had admitted committing the crime. The jury would take three hours to deliberate before finding her guilty. They took another two hours to deliberate her sentence before recommending death. She was sentenced to death on August 10, 2005 becoming the first female from Tarrant County Texas to be on death row. In November of 2011 her death sentence was overturned based on the fact that psychological documentation on Toledano had been with held from the defense. The courts felt that they could have made a difference. Apparently the new prosecutor all but agreed and instead of having a new sentencing hearing her sentence was commuted to a life sentence. Her mother continues to believe in her innocence. I suspect that at some point she will be eligible for parole but I found nothing to give a time frame.
On March 5, 2006 Andrew was found guilty in the murders of his parents. Unlike Chelsea, Andrew's jury recommended a life sentence over the death penalty. I suspect that this may have also played a role in helping Chelsea's sentence being reduced. Andrew will be eligible for parole in the year 2044.