Robert and Michael Bever
It is not often that I do a case here that has not fully gone through the court system unless it is a long unsolved case. However, I feel as if there really is not much more to know about this case despite the fact that Michael Bever, at last check is set to go to trial in June of 2017. His brother, Robert, has already pleaded guilty to the crime that the brothers committed together. Robert did so in order to prevent facing the death penalty but since Michael, who is being tried as an adult, was a juvenile when the crime was committed he is not facing death. Michael's lawyer has fought against the law that allows him to be charged as an adult saying that a sentence of life without parole should be unconstitutional. So far his efforts have been unsuccessful so barring some sort of compromise it looks as if his trial will commence as scheduled.
At about 11:30 pm on the night of July 22, 2015 911 in Broken Arrow Oklahoma received a call from a child who stated his brothers were attacking the family. In the background the operator could hear yelling and screaming and then the line went dead. The call was traced and the operator attempted to call the home back but did not receive an answer so police were dispatched. When officers arrived at the home they saw blood on the porch. When they knocked on the door they heard a faint sound of someone calling for help and they made their way inside.
The voice officers heard belonged to thirteen year old Crystal Bever. Her throat had been slit and she had stab wounds to her stomach and arms. The only other person alive in the home was Crystal's two year old sister, Autumn and she seemed to be unharmed. However, inside the home lay the bodies of Crystal's parents, David and April and three of her siblings, twelve year old Daniel, seven year old Christopher and five year old Victoria. They had all been stabbed multiple times. Initially police believed that it was Crystal who had made the 911 call but later they would learn that it had come from Daniel just before his death. Apparently the brothers, eighteen year old Robert and sixteen year old Michael, discovered that Daniel had called authorities and decided that they would kill him and then leave. They believed that Crystal was dead and while they had planned to kill Autumn also they knew she would not be able to tell authorities anything. They ran out the back door and headed to a wooded area behind the home and apparently hunkered down. Within an hour of the 911 call they would be found covered in blood and dirt. They were arrested without incident.
Neighbors of the family were interviewed and described them as very quiet and private. In fact many of the neighbors did not even know their full names until they were published in the newspaper. According to the neighbors the Bever children were homeschooled and the parents did not let them associate with any of the neighbor children. However, there had been a few who would say that the behaviors they saw (although it did not seem to be specific in what they were talking about) from Robert and Michael were “unsettling.”
Inside the home they would find knives, hatchets and other knives. Authorities would say that Robert also had a knife on him and that at least some of them had been used as weapons against the victims. A later search of the home would be prompted by a comment that Michael made at some point. It seems rather quickly authorities discovered that the murders of the family was only part of a larger plan and Michael had expressed, through what authorities called a “spontaneous utterance,” that the full plans were on a flash drive inside the home. You do not hear the phrase spontaneous utterance very often but in legal terms it is something that is described as being said by someone in a time of fear, or shock. When it comes to testimony inside a courtroom we have all heard that “hearsay” is not allowed. However, I can tell you as a former law student that the hardest rule to understand is the hearsay rule. Hearsay is defined as anything that is said outside the courtroom. So, when you know that and you know anything about courtroom procedures then you know hearsay is sometimes allowed and it is not a blanket dismissal. One of those rules allows spontaneous utterances to be admitted. It is believed that when someone expresses something while in a state of shock, or excitement or even fear, that they tend to be more honest statements. It was this statement by Michael that allowed the authorities to get an additional search warrant on the home to look for the flash drive.
Over the next several months investigators would learn through interviews and other things about the family and about the plans that the Bever brothers had. According to the defense attorney's for the brothers, inside the Bever home was not pleasant. While prosecutors have gone on record in saying that there was no sign of the physical and mental abuse alleged by the brothers from their parents, the defense has countered saying that surviving sibling, Crystal, has verified this. It is uncertain which story leans more towards the truth. If we consider the reactions and comments by the neighbors, as well as supposed statements by Crystal, and add the point that what truly goes on behind closed door is often only known by those who live within the walls, it seems plausible that there was some abuse going on of some sort. I should be clear in saying that this is not an excuse for murder, as well as despite their claims, it has never apparently been said that the murders occurred as a direct reaction to any abuse.
Fairly early on prosecutors announced that they intended to charge Michael as an adult. According to state law any juvenile between the ages of fifteen and seventeen charged with first degree murder are required, not just suggested but required, to be charged as an adult. They also intended to charge both boys with five counts of first degree murder and one count of assault and battery with intent to kill. This meant Robert was eligible for the death penalty and the prosecutors apparently intended to seek it. Due to Supreme Court rules while Michael could be sentenced to life in prison without parole, he could not face the death penalty.
Robert would fully confess to the crimes saying that he personally had planned them since he had been about thirteen years old but that only that he and Michael had planned them “for some time.” The intention was to kill everyone in the home and then commit a shooting spree outside of the home. They planned to go to several random spots and kill five random strangers until they had eventually killed at least fifty people. They both seemed to have a fantasy about serial killers and considered crossing state lines. They also apparently wanted to “rival” the Columbine shooting. They “sped” up their plan when they had a delivery of ammo arrive at the home on July 23rd. Their plan was interrupted when they discovered that Daniel had called 911. It was this call that apparently saved two year old Autumn's life.
Piecing together first what Crystal could tell them and then later what Robert would say the authorities discovered that while one of the brothers lured each victim to him by pretending they were in danger then they both would participant in killing them. Crystal was apparently their first victim but to their surprise she fought harder than they expected and killing her was not as easy as they thought it would be. According to the story while they were attacking Crystal, their mother, April would come upstairs. It was then that they attacked her. After that they moved on to David, then Daniel (who had called 911), Christopher and then Victoria. They knew they were short on time at this point and left two year old Autumn unharmed. I believe that is because they believed everyone else was dead and she would be unable to tell authorities what had happened. I also believe that while they could have gotten much further in distance, and possibly even continued with their plan, they stayed in the woods to watch as authorities entered the home.
Robert would plead guilty in September of 2016 in his effort to avoid the death penalty. He was sentenced to five life terms without parole and one additional life term for the attack on Crystal. It was then that Michael's trial was given a June 2017 date. It is unclear if that will remain true. Prosecutors have said the main reason that they offered a plea in this case was to prevent Crystal from having to testify and reliving the horror of that night.
I found interesting that it was stated that after the murder “much of the home was declared a biohazard” and many of the walls removed down to the studs. I searched and found nothing to indicate why this was. It is unlikely that the blood alone in the house would have caused this unless there was a reason for it. It could have meant the home had mold... but I cannot say for sure. Because of the style of the house and the similar crimes that had taken place many of the neighbors dubbed the home “The Broken Arrow Amityville Horror House.” At some point it appears that the town was talking of buying the home, tearing it down and creating a memorial to the family while extending it to a park that was adjacent to the property. Whether that was done or not is unclear, however, apparently on March 18, 2017 the home was destroyed by a fire that has only been described as an “unknown origin.”
One article I read stated that Crystal specifically has been adopted by a new family. I was unable to determine who this was or when it happened. I would like to assume that the same people adopted two year old Autumn. While I am curious about the situation I am also respectful enough to know this should not be made public and the girls should be allowed to recover and live their lives as normally as possible.