Teen charged for grandmother's assault before double homicide

Police had responded several times to their residence for the 17-year-old running away, as well as an assault on her grandmother when she was 16.

LAWRENCEVILLE, Ga. – Prior to her grandparents’ homicides last week, police had responded several times to their residence for the 17-year-old running away, as well as an assault on her grandmother when she was 16.

On Saturday, the teenage girl, who we are not naming because she is a juvenile, was taken to the hospital with self-inflicted knife wounds, her grandparents were dead and her 19-year-old boyfriend’s sister was assaulted with a baseball bat.

Police started their investigation into the teen couple immediately.

However, it wasn’t the 17-year-old’s first run-in with police or violence.

“We responded to the location numerous times for her being a runaway and at least once for a physical dispute with her grandparents,” Gwinnett County Police Cpl. Deon Washington said.

On Nov. 30, 2016, Police Officer JC Guevara responded to their Furlong Run home in Lawrenceville, Ga., just before 10 p.m., for a domestic call. He met with Wendy and Randall Bjorge, as well as their 16-year-old granddaughter. The three resided at the white, two-story, middle class suburban home.

Wendy told the officer that she and her granddaughter were arguing about her granddaughter’s behavior, including staying out late and showing “disrespect towards” Wendy.

During the altercation, Wendy said, her granddaughter threw water on her. The officer observed liquid on the ground and Wendy’s pajama shirt was wet.

Wendy, 63, also told the officer that her granddaughter was home-schooled.

During the officer’s interview with Wendy, he noted in his report, the teenager was very vocal.

“I heard her several times, while Ms. Bjorge would speak, some smart aleck remark. During which time, I had to intervene  several times… to be quiet and not speak when an adult was talking.” 

Randall, 63, who was on scene during the argument in its entirety, also had a wet shirt. He told police that he was attempting to keep his granddaughter off his wife. And said that he was concerned that his granddaughter would turn violent, since she took martial arts.

According to him, there had been violence between the two in the past, including the teen striking Wendy several times. And this day, he said, was no different.

The teenage girl struck Wendy several times, he said. However, Guevara did not report any visible bruises on the 63-year-old grandmother and she did not complain of any injuries. There was, however, a small red mark on her left arm.

The officer interviewed the teen, who was also wearing a wet shirt. She admitted there was an argument, but she denied hitting her grandmother.

She said she asked her grandmother not call the police and they argued about it.

Guevara did not take the teen into custody, however, he wrote a report and forwarded it with a juvenile complaint form to the juvenile courts.

The then-16-year-old was charged with simple battery, simple assault and unruly juvenile. The primary weapon used was a "blunt object," possibly a hand, fist or another object.

According to police, the teenager habitually ran away from home.

In fact, on April 1, Wendy posted on her Facebook page a plea to find her granddaughter.

“please spread the word… PLEASE BE ON THE LOOKOUT FOR [granddaughter]”

Wendy also posted a “Missing and Endangered” poster which stated the last time she was seen was on Dec. 18, 2016.

MORE | Teen couple investigated in sister’s assault, grandparents’ deaths

Police believe her grandparents may have been dead for days when they found them on Saturday night.

They immediately started investigating their teenage granddaughter and her 19-year-old boyfriend after learning that the same day, they had allegedly beaten his sister and her boyfriend.

Here's how the violent rampage began and came to, what police call, a "brutal" and deadly end.

Gwinnett County Police Department responded to a 911 call at 8:30 p.m., to Rambling Woods Drive in Lawrenceville, Ga., where Tomoko Rider said her son, Johnny Rider beat her daughter with a baseball bat.

Tomoko called 911 and advised police that she was driving her daughter, Mindy Rider, and her boyfriend, to the hospital for their injuries. She also told dispatch that her son had made threats to kill her and her daughter.

Once they arrived on the scene, police peered inside the lower level of the house from the front porch, and reported seeing items strewn about inside. They spotted blood smeared on the wall and door frame in the bathroom.

They rang the doorbell and announced themselves as law enforcement, Officer R.M. Litwin said in the police report.

“I then leaned in the door slightly to look around because it was unknown if there may be an injured party still on scene. As I leaned toward the door I immediately began to cough. After a moment Officer Leigh realized that someone had sprayed pepper spray in the residence,” Litwin said.  

Once back outside, Tomoko arrived back at her home and approached the officers to tell them in person what had happened.

Mindy, Tomoko told police, was hit in the head with a baseball bat after an argument with her brother and his girlfriend—a girl that Tomoko said she had never seen before. Johnny had not been home for about two weeks prior to the incident.

Tomoko told Litwin that she received a call from Mindy that Johnny was there and trying to steal from them.

According to her, when Mindy threatened to call the police Johnny attacked her.

Mindy told police that when Johnny arrived home, she confronted him about her room being ransacked and items missing, including a watch. At first, she said, he seemed to agree, but then headed back to her room with a can of bear pepper spray, spraying Mindy and her boyfriend.

He grabbed her boyfriend and began striking him while yelling for his girlfriend to get a baseball bat, she said. The 17-year-old girl returned with a bat and that’s when Mindy said she intervened.

Johnny's girlfriend struck Mindy in the back and head with the bat and Johnny struck her several more times with his fist and with the bat, per what Mindy told police.

Johnny and his girlfriend continued to beat Mindy and her boyfriend until they could break free, per the police report.

While on the scene, officers found the bear spray on the couch, as well as two air rifles and a machete on a dog cage, which were all removed from the house for safety.

Mindy was released from the hospital, but suffered multiple bruises and received seven staples in her head.

“I’m totally flabbergasted that this was going on,” Beth Lenz, who lives next door, said.

“[There were] lots of people going back and forth. I’ve seen a couple of arguments,” she recalled Monday afternoon about her neighbors. 

While on the scene, police located the Bjorges’ car, a Mazda Tribute SUV, in the garage. They found the driver's side door open and the interior lights on, but unoccupied.

Officers had been to the Bjorges’ residence earlier in the week for family-requested welfare checks, but were unable to make contact. Because of the assault to Johnny’s family, police decided to check on his girlfriend’s grandparents again.

Just a mile and a half away, police entered the Bjorges’ home, where the 17-year-old lived with and was home-schooled by her grandparents. 

Officer J.A. Sanders and Sgt. Brewster found Wendy and Randall, both 63, dead upstairs in their Furlong Run home Saturday night, just after 11 p.m. They believe the married couple may have been deceased for days. Their Lawrenceville, Ga., home had been ransacked. 

"Their deaths were apparent homicides," Det. D.C. Smith said.

According to the police report, the primary weapon used was a "blunt object," possibly a hand, fist or another object.

Detectives and Crime Scene officials worked throughout the night looking for Johnny and his girlfriend.

On Sunday morning, with his family's assistance, police located them at the Residences at McGinnis Ferry on McGinnis Ferry Road, in Suwanee, Ga., inside a friend’s apartment.

When the suspects refused to come outside, the Gwinnett County SWAT team entered the home and located the suspects who were suffering from self-inflicted knife wounds.

Johnny and his girlfriend were hospitalized at Gwinnett Medical Center-Lawrenceville.

As of Tuesday afternoon, charges related to her grandparents’ double homicide have not been filed, however, Rider has been charged and booked into jail, on battery charges for the assault on his sister and her boyfriend.

His girlfriend, who remains in the hospital, has not been charged.

The motives are still unknown, pending further investigation.

© 2017 WXIA-TV


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