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Coeur d’Alene double killing leaves family grieving

Coeur d’Alene police investigators were working at the scene of Monday’s double killing in Coeur d’Alene on Wednesday. (Kathy Plonka)
Coeur d’Alene police investigators were working at the scene of Monday’s double killing in Coeur d’Alene on Wednesday. (Kathy Plonka)

Anthony Samuel said the family knew something was wrong with his half brother, Eldon G. Samuel III. But no one suspected it would end with him accused of a grisly double homicide in Coeur d’Alene.

Eldon Samuel III, 14, is jailed in Kootenai County on $1 million bond facing charges that he killed his father, Eldon Samuel Jr., and his 13-year-old brother, Jonathan Samuel, on Monday night.

“Eldon, he was never sane,” Anthony Samuel said of his half brother. “We all knew he was not exactly right, but we’d never think that this would happen.”

The boy had a history of violence.

He picked fights with people and beat up his younger brother, who had Down syndrome. He once shoved a pencil through Jonathan’s jaw, Anthony said.

When the younger Eldon was 10, his father taught him to shoot a BB gun, Anthony said. “They had a pet chicken once,” he said. “He started shooting the chicken over and over and over.” The family has had a difficult past, but Anthony Samuel said his father was a recovering drug user and was trying to make amends, partly by moving to Coeur d’Alene, where the father moved with Eldon and Jonathan into a home owned by St. Vincent de Paul North Idaho.

The boy told police after his arrest that his father hit him. Anthony Samuel said he knew his dad was violent when he was high on drugs, but never hit him or his sisters.

His father had kicked his drug habit in recent years and was trying to be a good father to all his children, Anthony said. “He was starting to get his life back on track,” Anthony said. “I was proud of him because he took responsibility for the boys.”

His father got the boys enrolled in school after moving to Coeur d’Alene to be closer to his father, Eldon Samuel Sr. The small family would watch rented movies together, Anthony said. “He was starting to be a good dad,” he said.

Anthony also alluded to police reports that his father was trying to reach Jonathan after he was shot the first time. “He was actually trying to save my brother,” he said.

Anthony discounts Eldon’s report to police that their father talked about zombies and beat him. His father would dress up as a zombie on Halloween, but that was it, Anthony said.

Anthony claims that it was the mother of his half-brothers, Tina, who was abusive. Court records show that Tina J. Samuel pleaded no contest to a charge of willful cruelty to a child in 2012 in Stanislaus County, Calif.

She has declined requests for an interview.

“He maybe spanked him, but that’s all I know of what happened there,” Anthony said of his father’s behavior. “He pulled them away from an abusive home, so I don’t see why he would do that.”

Anthony describes Jonathan as always happy. He loved to build things with Legos and his favorite movie was “Godzilla.” Anthony said he understands why Jonathan was hiding under the bed while the attack unfolded. “He’d get scared if you talked too loud or did anything sudden,” he said. “I can imagine that’s why he was hiding.”

His father did keep guns in the home but usually kept them locked up, Anthony said.

Now Anthony is left to process the deaths of his father and Jonathan and wonder how he can afford to make the trip from New Mexico to Coeur d’Alene for the funerals. “The last time I saw (my dad), he gave me a suit and helped me get my job,” Anthony said. “I just can’t still believe it.”



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