Update: Investigators narrow leads in slain NC family case
Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 1, 2009
RALEIGH (AP) ó A western North Carolina sheriff searching for clues in the slayings of four family members said Tuesday that investigators are focused “in two directions” that could garner an arrest.
Catawba County Sheriff David Huffman said investigators are working nonstop to find a suspect in Thursday’s gruesome killings of Lisa Saephan and her three children ó 20-year-old Melanie, 18-year-old Pauline and 3-year-old Cody. The four were found stabbed or shot to death inside their home in Conover, about 40 miles northwest of Charlotte.
“Right now, we have evidence going in two different directions,” Huffman said, declining to elaborate. “But this is something that everybody wants to see taken care of as quickly as possible.”
He said no one has been ruled out as a suspect. Officials have said Saephan’s husband and the children’s father, Brian Tzeo, was at work when his family was killed.
Investigators believe the suspect entered the home through an unlocked back door. Having an unlocked door in the community, tucked among rolling hills and farmland, wasn’t uncommon in the family’s subdivision, Huffman said.
“In that neighborhood, that would be probably a common occurrence,” he said. “We’d never had a (major) call to that house, or in that development.”
Authorities have pursued more than 100 leads in their search for a suspect, including some after a sketch of a suspect was featured on Saturday night’s television broadcast of “America’s Most Wanted.”
Investigators found the family after Pauline’s friend called 911 on Thursday morning, screaming and sobbing as she told the operator Pauline had just been pulled into her home and stabbed by a man.
The friend had picked up Pauline for school that morning, but they went back to the house after the friend she had seen a suspicious man outside the house.
Her young brother was shot at the kitchen table, and her sister was killed after she called Pauline and told her not to return to the house. The mother also was found dead inside.
Tzeo has acknowledged he had an affair but that he and his wife were still living together and trying to work things out. Huffman said both Tzeo and the woman with whom he had the affair told authorities about the past relationship.