National News

Death penalty could be sought against teen who aided in grandparents' murder

Posted July 3

— Gwinnett County prosecutors may seek the death penalty for the boyfriend accused of killing his girlfriend's grandparents with her in April.

On Thursday, Johnny Rider, 19, and Cassandra Bjorge, 17, were both indicted in the murder of Wendy and Randall Bjorge.

District Attorney Danny Porter told the Daily Post the county plans to seek the death penalty for Rider. He said Bjorge isn't elligible for the death penalty, since she's not yet 18 years old.

Police found Cassandra Bjorge's grandparents dead in their home off Furlong Run in the early hours of April 9. The couple had been dead for about a week.

Warrants allege that Cassandra Bjorge and Rider had kicked, punched and beat her grandparents with a tire iron. They're accused of finishing the job by stabbing the elderly couple in the throats.

And they didn't run away. Porter said many of the charges in the indictment stem from the fact that Cassandra Bjorge and Rider were allegedly in and out of the house that she once shared with her grandparents after they killed the elderly couple.

"They broke into her grandparents house and, over a period of time, killed both the grandmother and the grandfather," Porter said. "And then (they) stayed in the house for a period of time and sealed it up . They taped up the windows and things to prevent discovery of the body."

Other members of the Bjorges' family noticed the 63-year-old couple's absence early in the days preceding April 9. They began asking Gwinnett police to check on their house.

"Gwinnett County Police responded to the location several times beginning April 6 and attempted welfare check by the request of family members," said Gwinnett County police Cpl. Deon Washington. "At the time, there was no obvious cause to enter the location by force."

Initially, it was reported that a violent domestic incident at Rider's family house off Rambling Woods Drive in Lawrenceville on April 8 that led police to figure out what happened to the Bjorges.

Actually, Porter said that was another murder attempt.

"In the course of the investigation, we also learned that (the murder of the grandparents) was the first in the seires of murders they intended to commit," he said.

Rider and Cassandra Bjorge reportedly returned to Rider's family home on April 8 intending to kill his parents. But the Rider family fought the couple off and called the police.

When officers got to the house on Rambling Woods Drive, they didn't find Rider or Bjorge, but they did find a car they soon discovered belonged to the elderly Bjorge couple - the couple nobody had heard from in several days.

"Because of the crime at hand, officers decided to again make a welfare check at their home," said Gwinnett County police Detective D.C. Smith at the time.

This time, when nobody answered the door, officers went inside, where they found Wendy and Randall Bjorge.

Smith said detectives and crime scene personnel worked through that night to find Bjorge and Rider. Eventually, officers found them hiding out in the 800 building at the Residences at McGinnis Ferry in Suwanee.

They refused to come out for police, so officials sent the SWAT team into the apartment, where they found that Cassandra Bjorge and Rider had tried to kill themselves by cutting their wrists.

Both teens were treated at Gwinnett Medical Center before they were arrested.

Now, Rider could face the possibilty of death at the hands of the court system.

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