Local News

Elaborate murder plot led to Apex teen's death

Posted September 14, 2010 6:07 p.m. EDT
Updated September 15, 2010 11:32 a.m. EDT

— Wake County prosecutors continued building their case Tuesday against a 19-year-old Apex man whom they have called the mastermind behind a complex murder conspiracy likened to something from the movies.

Ryan Patrick Hare is on trial for first-degree murder and other charges in the Nov. 30, 2008, death of Matthew Silliman, an 18-year-old Apex High School student whose body was found two days later in an abandoned trailer in New Hill.

Prosecutors say Hare enlisted three friends – Drew Shaw, Allegra Dahlquist and Aadil Khan – to help lure Silliman to the site.

Dahlquist, Hare's girlfriend at the time, testified Tuesday that he had a plot to suffocate Silliman with a zip tie five days earlier, but when that failed, the friends convinced Silliman that they were trying to fake his death because someone named Roger was out to have him killed.

"He trusted us," Dahlquist, 19, said of Silliman.

She said Hare told her that Roger had given him an ultimatum: Kill Silliman or be killed.

Hare was willing to sacrifice his life for Silliman, she said, but she urged him not to because she was in love with him.

The friends eventually lured Silliman to the trailer, owned by Dahlquist's family, where he stayed several days.

Prosecutors contend that Roger does not exist and that Hare devised the scheme because he was jealous that Dahlquist also had feelings for Silliman.

"He didn't like how Matt would talk about me or look at me," Dahlquist said.

The two broke up briefly and argued about Silliman, whom she continued to see. Dahlquist went along with the plan, she testified, because she loved Hare and wanted him to know that he could trust her.

On the night of Silliman's death, prosecutors say, Dahlquist distracted Silliman with a tarot card reading while Hare hit him over the head with a hammer.

Shaw, 18, also testified Tuesday that he was "scared as hell" while he carried out his role in the alleged plot. His job was to wait outside the trailer with a baseball bat, in case Silliman tried to escape.

Things went in a new direction, however, he said, when Silliman was seemingly unfazed by the hammer blow.

"The plan had changed, and they convinced him to kill himself. That's what they told me," Shaw said.

Shaw said he eventually went inside the trailer, where he saw Silliman in the kitchen mixing white powder with wine and taking pills.

The group was laughing and joking about the hammer and "how Matt didn't die easily," Shaw said. Hare was also saying things in an effort to depress Silliman, who had a history of depression, a suicide attempt and bipolar disorder.

"Matt was trying to laugh it off, and Ryan was trying to make it out like he was never wanted," Shaw said.

Crying at times, Shaw said he did not want to Silliman to die and didn't want to be there but also admitted he didn't try to stop the plan from being carried out.

"For one, I'm kind of (expletive) scared," he said of his thoughts at the time. "I don't know what anyone's thinking. I don't know how serious anyone is. I'm like, 'If I make any kind of move …’ I feel like they might have killed me or something."

Shaw left soon after, and Silliman was still alive, he said. It was the last time he saw any of his friends before his arrest on Dec. 3, 2008.

He cried again at the end of his testimony Tuesday, when Wake County Assistant District Attorney Jason Waller showed him a photo of Silliman at the crime scene.

Silliman's hands and feet had been bound, his mouth duct-taped and a plastic bag tied around his head, authorities have said. An autopsy determined he died of asphyxiation and that he had lethal amounts of prescription drugs and alcohol in his system when he suffocated.

But Hare's attorney, Robert Padovano, said his client assisted in a suicide – that Silliman wanted to die and wanted his death to look like a crime to spare his family both emotionally and financially.

Padovano cross-examined Shaw at length about his motives for testifying at Hare's trial without a plea deal, as well as statements he made on Nov. 29, 2008, to go to Silliman and "get this over with."

At the time though, Shaw said, he didn't think the talk of killing Silliman was serious.

"(I figured) there would be a fight and what would happen would happen, and the drama would be over with," he said.