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Seemingly Sheltered From Evil, Oregon Teens Face Murder Charges

Crime: 'Good kids' grew up in rural area without telephones, TV or the Internet--but with drugs and guns aplenty, witnesses testify at pretrial hearing.

June 06, 1999|JEFF BARNARD | ASSOCIATED PRESS

WOLF CREEK, Ore. — They grew up without telephone, television or the Internet, in a home they helped their parents carve out of 52 acres behind locked gates deep in the southern Oregon mountains.

Always together, usually on their dirt bikes, Josh Cain and half-brother Trevor Walraven were known around town as good kids, who were mostly home-schooled, helped in the family business and did odd jobs for neighbors.

They were so well-regarded that when authorities charged the teens with murdering a popular lodge owner and joy riding in his sport-utility vehicle last summer, many thought it was some kind of cruel joke.

But the evidence that has come out as the case moves toward trial pulls back the curtain from a seemingly sheltered existence. It reveals elements of teenage life in 1999 that are frighteningly familiar: drugs, guns and the violent lyrics of Marilyn Manson.

In the cabin the boys shared outside their parents' main home, detectives say they found bongs for smoking marijuana and letters from Josh asking Trevor about getting him some pot, LSD and methamphetamine.

There was also a copy of lyrics, apparently in Josh's handwriting, from the song "Portrait of an American Family" by Marilyn Manson:

"Dealing with insanity, smoking pot, hating this [expletive] world, murder is the answer, I only kill to know I'm alive."

Detectives began focusing on the boys because they were seen driving the vehicle owned by Black Bar Lodge owner Bill Hull, who disappeared July 26 after attending Sunday church services.

His decomposing body was found nearly a week later covered with brush in a remote clear-cut. An autopsy revealed he had been shot once in the top of the head with a copper-jacketed hollow-point .38-special bullet.

Eileen Zink, who knew the boys as the director of the Wolf Creek Teen Center and is the mother of Trevor's girlfriend, firmly believes their explanation for why they were driving Hull's 1997 Chevrolet Suburban: They had found it parked on a lonely logging road not far from their home, with a key in the ignition and a wallet in the glove compartment.

"These are not troubled kids," Zink said. "Even if God stepped down here today and said, 'Eileen, those boys did that,' I would question God himself because he was trying to trick me."

Josh, 19, goes on trial for murder Tuesday. No trial date has been set for Trevor, 15, who is accused of pulling the trigger and is charged as an adult with aggravated murder.

They lived 10 miles down Grave Creek, a tributary of the Rogue River dotted with mining claims dating back to the Gold Rush.

The boys' parents, Karen Cain and Doug Walraven, began building their home in 1983, going no further than their cash on hand, living first in a trailer and then a small cabin. It was 1997 before the main house was well enough along for the parents to move in, and the boys took over the cabin for themselves.

Both boys were home-schooled most of their lives. Josh went to 10th grade at Glendale High School, where he signed up for football. Rather than finish high school, he got his equivalency diploma and enrolled in 1997 at the University of Oregon.

When Josh went to school, so did Trevor. His junior high teachers described him as bright, a bit of a class clown, but a boy the other kids looked up to.

If he wore a particular bracelet, they all wanted one just like it. He liked skateboarding. He shaved the sides of his head, leaving the top long enough for a ponytail. His only brush with the law was for riding his motorcycle on the freeway without a driver's license.

Their parents made their living traveling to swap meets about 20 times a year, selling antique gas station paraphernalia and Raggedy Ann collectibles.

When the boys were young, they came along. As they got older, they earned money helping other people set up their booths.

Last summer, while their parents went away, the boys stayed home.

When the parents returned from swap meets in Idaho and Portland last July, the boys told them that intruders had come into their home and stolen the .357 Magnum that Josh kept in his underwear drawer in the cabin, as well as Trevor's .22-caliber revolver. Some rifles and a shotgun in the gun safe in the main house were untouched.

Cain said she had bought the .357 Magnum 10 years earlier as an investment, but prosecutors pointed out that it was just before Doug Walraven went to the federal penitentiary in Minnesota for two years on a marijuana-dealing conviction. She later gave it to Josh for Christmas.

When Hull was reported missing, investigators began getting reports that his Suburban had been seen around Grants Pass and Wolf Creek. Investigators soon tracked it down to Josh and Trevor, and were waiting to talk to them when they got back from a three-day joy ride to Eugene and Reedsport.

They claimed a friend from California named Fred had let them use it. When that story unraveled, they said they had found it a couple of miles from their house.

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