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Six Youths Charged In Murder Of Family

Wed., April 9, 1997

A couple and their 6-year-old daughter were shot to death near a highway rest stop by a gang of robbers as the family returned home from a conference of Jehovah’s Witnesses.

The couple’s 3-year-old son also was shot Sunday night and was in critical condition Tuesday.

Six young people, including two juveniles, were arrested Tuesday in Arizona by U.S. Customs Serice agents near the Mexican border. The six, ranging in age from 14 to 20 and all from the Paintsville, Ky., area, were charged with three counts of murder.

Vidar Lillelid, 34, and his wife, Delphia, 28, were found dead in a ditch Sunday night along a gravel road three miles from the rest stop.

Their daughter, Tabitha, was found alive in her father’s lap, but she died Monday. Her brother, Peter, was in his mother’s lap.

The family had stopped at the rest area on the way home to Powell, Tenn., Sheriff Terry Jones said. The Lillelids apparently were taken to the gravel road, removed from their van and shot, Jones said. The killers took their wallets and apparently stole the van.

A car belonging to one suspect’s mother was found in the ditch.

Ed Runyon, a friend of the family’s, was asked how the tragedy could be explained to the 3-year-old. “I don’t know what you’d say or how you’d go about saying it,” he told WBIR-TV in Knoxville, Tenn.

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