Family Plot

Rick and Suzanna Wamsley were strict with their children. Police say their son paid them back with murder.

Andrew, Chelsea and Toledano befriended Cardenas, who often worked during the hours they came into the restaurant. Married, with a 4-year-old daughter, Cardenas liked talking with the teens about everything from Yu-Gi-Oh tactics to tropical fish.

During these late-night sessions, police allege, the four of them hatched a monstrous plot that had nothing to do with "Blue Eyes White Dragon" or "Zombra the Dark."

Standefer says the conspiracy started with methods of murder that required a minimal amount of personal involvement--like cutting the brake lines on vehicles--and from the beginning targeted not only Rick and Suzy, but Sarah, too. "Andrew intended on killing her as well," Standefer says. "That way he wouldn't have to split the money."

Plotting at the IHOP: Andrew Wamsley, 19; Chelsea Richardson, 20; Hilario Cardenas, 24; and Susana Toledano, 19
Plotting at the IHOP: Andrew Wamsley, 19; Chelsea Richardson, 20; Hilario Cardenas, 24; and Susana Toledano, 19
Rick and Suzanna Wamsley pose at a New Year's Eve party. Their daughter Sarah, shown in her high school yearbook photo, was allegedly targeted, too.
Rick and Suzanna Wamsley pose at a New Year's Eve party. Their daughter Sarah, shown in her high school yearbook photo, was allegedly targeted, too.

The crime was set in motion, Standefer says, when Andrew got tired of their failed efforts at sabotaging cars and asked Cardenas to get them a gun.

On Sunday, November 9, at about 2:30 p.m. Rick Wamsley was driving north on Interstate 35, taking Suzy and Sarah to a late lunch at Chili's in Burleson. He was exiting the freeway when something slammed into the car with a loud thud. In the restaurant parking lot, the Wamsleys found a bullet hole in the left rear panel of their Jeep Laredo.

The Wamsleys filed a police report. Rick told a detective that he remembered a white Mustang like Andrew's passing the vehicle shortly before he heard the noise. But other cars had also passed.

"The officer didn't think Rick was being forthcoming," Standefer says. "According to Sarah, immediately after this happened, Suzy got on the phone to Andrew and said, 'Where the fuck are you?'"

Over their meal at Chili's, Rick and Suzy refused to talk about the incident. "It's a traumatic event," Standefer says. "Sarah wants to talk about it, and they don't."

Police found no witnesses and made no arrests. It seemed to be a random drive-by shooting.


A jet of water splooshed skyward.

Blam! Blam! Blam!

Ruth Brustrom watched in drizzling rain as Andrew and Toledano blasted away with a handgun at a target in her pond.

It was a nasty day sometime in mid-November 2003. Andrew had called, saying that Toledano wanted to practice her aim with a handgun. Brustrom allowed the target practice but insisted the teenagers shoot into the water so stray bullets wouldn't hurt her neighbors.

Andrew and Chelsea had decided to get more aggressive, Standefer says. "The information I received was that he or his girlfriend had seen on TV that if you shoot a car's gas tank, it would blow up," the detective says.

Andrew, Chelsea and Toledano were all in the Mustang when they took a shot at the Wamsleys for the first time, says Standefer, who believes that Toledano was probably carrying the weapon.

"Andrew was pretty upset that Susana [Toledano] had missed," Standefer says. He demanded that all three of them take target practice. "They went so far as to rank themselves," Standefer says. "Who was best?"

In order: Andrew, Toledano, then Chelsea.

By mid-December, Andrew and Chelsea hadn't been out to Brustrom's place in a while; their frequent calls had suddenly stopped. Concerned, Brustrom finally reached Andrew on his phone.

"He doesn't act like anything's wrong," Brustrom says. Andrew handed the phone to Chelsea. "She was bawling," Brustrom says. Between her tears, Chelsea told Brustrom that her boyfriend's parents had been murdered a few days earlier.

Brustrom had seen the news reports of the Mansfield slayings, but she hadn't connected the Wamsley name to Chelsea's boyfriend until now.

"He can't wait to come out," Chelsea told Brustrom. The young couple needed to get away.

Sometime around Christmas, Chelsea and Andrew finally visited Brustrom. Andrew seemed normal, as if nothing out of the ordinary had happened. But he quickly warned Brustrom: "Don't say anything to anyone about the gun."

Early on, police considered Todd Cleveland a "person of interest" in the slayings because of the bitter custody dispute in which Rick and Suzy were increasingly playing a role. Cleveland, however, passed a polygraph test and was soon cleared.

The Wamsley children remained under suspicion because they had the most to gain--more than $100,000 in cash and a $1 million life insurance payoff, to be split between the two siblings.

Andrew and Chelsea had driven up to the Turnberry house at about 8:30 a.m. on December 12, telling police they'd learned of the murder investigation on television. Both voluntarily went to the police station.

Standefer thought Andrew showed little emotion for someone whose parents had been murdered, even if they'd had their differences. The two said they'd last seen Rick and Suzy on December 9, when they'd asked the Wamsleys' permission to go on a camping trip. Permission was given, but cold weather prompted them to stay at Chelsea's house instead. Standefer says the couple described a night filled with a movie, Putt-Putt golf, then visiting a friend, but they had no alibi for the estimated time of the murder.

Andrew initially allowed a search of his car but withdrew his consent, leading police to impound the Mustang. In the car, police found evidence that a large amount of human blood had once been there--mostly in the back passenger seat but on the two front seats as well. But the seats had been thoroughly cleaned; the blood couldn't be identified further.

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