A Kentucky couple who took in an incorrigible 15-year-old relative now accused of killing them had put their foot down when he wanted to date a 12-year-old girl, police and family members said.
An adult son found Gary and Barbara Holloway dead in their bed Tuesday. Soon after, police issued an Amber Alert for the teen who was living with them and for the girlfriend the couple had forbidden him to see. Police said they feared both might be in grave danger.
A day later, in one of the strangest cases to arise from the system designed to find abducted children, the 15-year-old was charged with murdering his cousin and her husband, who welcomed him into their home three months ago when his mother said she could no longer control him.
"They gave him everything in the world," said Elizabeth Osborn, a friend of the Holloways' son, Stephen. "He kept getting suspended from school, and they still gave him everything."
Family members said the boy was an eighth-grader at the local middle school and habitually got in trouble for bringing cigarettes to school, bullying other children and talking back to his teachers.
Barbara Holloway, his second cousin, had taken him in three months ago, said her sister, Ruby Whitehead. Family members said his father is in prison.
"He's always been abandoned his whole life," said Osborn. "... I guess the first people who showed him love, he didn't know how to take it."
Barbara Holloway would sometimes have to pick him up an hour after school had started because he had been suspended.
Then there was the relationship with the 12-year-old, which Osborn said both the Holloways and the girl's mother tried to end. There was no indication the girl was involved in the killing, and police said she was released after they questioned her.
"We had been trying to fight it and keep them apart," Osborn said. "Barb had grounded him from seeing her or talking to her."
The state medical examiner's office said Wednesday preliminary autopsy results showed Gary Holloway, 50, died from multiple gunshot wounds and Barbara Holloway, 51, died of a single gunshot wound.
Authorities caught up with the teen and his girlfriend a few hours after the Amber Alert was issued. A volunteer firefighter spotted them in the couple's stolen car, the 15-year-old behind the wheel.
The teen was being held at the Adair County Youth Development Center. Besides murder, he is charged with fleeing and evading, wanton endangerment, criminal mischief, reckless driving and driving without a license. Authorities have not said whether he will be charged as an adult. The Associated Press generally does not identify juveniles charged with crimes.
Osborn said she and Stephen Holloway discovered the bodies Tuesday when they went to check on the couple because they could not reach them on the phone. She said $1,000 had been taken and someone had dropped off the couple's dog at an adult day care center.
Osborn and Holloway called police, who issued the Amber Alert, which described the Holloways' car. Volunteer firefighter Moe Hensley told The Associated Press he heard the alert several times on his way home, then spotted the car and called a dispatcher, who contacted state police.
There was a short chase when police tried to pull the car over about 15 miles from where the Holloways were found, and the 15-year-old drove off the road. Police say he and the 12-year-old ran away but were caught quickly.
Police defended issuing the alert, saying they did not know exactly what had happened.
"We had to consider every possible scenario, the possibility that they were perpetrators as well as victims," state police trooper Bill Gregory said.
Whitehead, Barbara Holloway's sister, questioned the decision to issue the Amber Alert.
"It should have been more like, `We need these two people caught right away,'" she said. "... Not an Amber Alert that made people think they were in danger because they were never in danger."
Lovan reported from Louisville, Ky.