A Georgia teenager wanted to start a new life with her boyfriend. Then, she killed her mother and brother for tax refund cash.
Now, she will remain behind bars for decades.
Recently, a Monroe County Judge sentenced Candace Walton, 18, to life in prison with the possibility of parole for the burning death of her mother, Tasha Vandiver, 36, and her brother Gerald Walton, 21. Walton pleaded guilty to malice murder, felony murder, first-degree arson and theft.
During the morning hours of Feb. 27, 2020, first responders and the firefighters responded to a fire incident at Vandiver’s residence on Old Zebulon Road in Monroe County, Georgia. Upon arrival, the house was already engulfed, and firefighters recovered two bodies at the scene.
Later, investigators discovered Vandiver’s 2007 Chevy Malibu was not at the premises. As a result, an all-points bulletin was issued for the missing vehicle. Authorities initially thought Walton was the female victim after Identifying Gerald Walton, who was also a special needs person.
"He just loved life. He would never say anything negative...just to be around him, he was just happy all the time, and I think that is probably what we need to take away from that. Love one another no matter what," said Gerald Walton’s former teacher Ellen Criswell, according to 13WMAZ.
Later, U.S. Marshalls stopped the Chevy Malibu in McCracken County, Kentucky, with Walton behind the wheel. Investigators believed she was on her way to live with her boyfriend, Kaleo Pangelinan, whom she met when he moved to attend school in Monroe County.
The defendant had $2,300 in her possession at the time of her arrest. Walton was later extradited to Georgia to face trial.
According to prosecutors, Candace Walton, then 16 years old, had stolen her mother’s tax refund before setting their house on fire while her mom and brother were asleep. However, they told the court Walton had expressed remorse for the incident and accepted full responsibility for her actions.
“There was a tax rebate that was cashed by the mom that was stolen, we believe by Candace, and she stole mom’s car, the cash rebate, and was driving to Oregon to visit the boyfriend essentially to start over a new life,” said Monroe County District Attorney Jonathan Adams, according to the Associated Press.
Pangelinan was also arrested in 2020 in connection to the crime, but he is still awaiting a trial. The defense lawyer for the co-defendant argued his client was innocent and had nothing to do with his girlfriend’s crimes. However, prosecutors presented text messages between the defendants to the court, with Pangelinan telling Walton how to carry out the homicide.
Walton was sentenced to an additional 10 years for the arson conviction. However, she will be eligible for parole after spending 30 years in prison.
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