WEST PALM BEACH — A 16-year-old boy and an accomplice hatched a plan to rob a man and his wife in their home on Thursday but instead shot the couple to death, police said today.
Bryant Vaughn, 16, of suburban West Palm Beach was arrested Saturday night in the murders of Linda Joyce Sampson and her husband, Aaron Leroy Sampson, both 61. Vaughn's accomplice, whom Assistant Police Chief Dennis Crispo said is "also a young individual," remained on the loose Sunday. Crispo wouldn't release that name.
Vaughn's arrest came two days after Linda Sampson, owner of a pastry and gourmet basket business, and her husband, who owned a moving company, were attacked in their home. Called to 3700 Australian Court about 8:35 p.m. on Thursday, police found Linda Sampson shot to death inside the house. Her husband was sprawled outside a neighbor's house, bleeding from a gunshot wound.
He was taken to St. Mary's Medical Center, where he died.
"This is just a horrible tragedy," Mayor Lois Frankel said Sunday afternoon. "Just another example of too many guns on the street."
Fingerprints found inside the Sampsons' house led investigators to Vaughn, whose criminal record includes arrests on trespassing and grand theft auto charges and stretches back to 2005, when, at the age of 13, he was accused of burglary and larceny in West Palm Beach.
During an interview with detectives, Vaughn said he plotted to rob the Sampsons and was in their house the night they were shot, Crispo said. The assistant chief added that Vaughn indicated he knew the Sampsons, which explained why the usually vigilant Aaron Sampson allowed Vaughn to approach him at his house.
"Why he targeted them I really can't get into at this point," Crispo said, citing the open investigation. "We can only go by what he told us."
Crispo wouldn't say whether police suspected Vaughn fired the shots that killed the Sampsons.
Vaughn's family members couldn't be reached for comment Sunday.
In addition to two first-degree murder charges, Vaughn faces charges of burglary and attempted robbery as well as unrelated violation-of-probation charges.
He was booked at the county Juvenile Assessment Center about 8:40 p.m. Saturday, records show.
As detectives searched for the second robber, the Sampsons' family struggled with the couple's "senseless" killing - and with the notion that someone so young might have been responsible.
"It is disturbing that it was a 16-year-old, and it appears as though they said they had planned this," said Frank Sampson, who described his younger brother as an active churchgoer who sat on the board and sang in the choir at St. John Missionary Baptist Church.
"That family, too. That family has to deal with this problem," Frank Sampson said. "And its going to cause probably just as much grief for that family as it's caused for our family."
He said there will be a wake from 4 to 8 p.m. Friday, at the church at 2006 A.E. Isaacs Ave. The funeral will be held there Saturday at 11 a.m. L.C Poitier Funeral Home of Pompano Beach is handling the funeral arrangements.