Men accused of burglarizing Magdzas home chargedTwo men accused of burglarizing the home where an Iraqi war veteran shot his pregnant wife and 1-year-old daughter before turning the gun on himself made initial appearances in Douglas County Circuit Court on Tuesday.
By: Maria Lockwood, Superior Telegram
Two men accused of burglarizing the home where an Iraqi war veteran shot his pregnant wife and 1-year-old daughter before turning the gun on himself made initial appearances in Douglas County Circuit Court on Tuesday.
Travis Lee Sherman, 21, and Nicholas Erving Doty, 22, both face a charge of felony of burglary for allegedly breaking into the empty home where Matthew, April and Lila Magdzas died to steal a gaming system, games and movies.
District Attorney Dan Blank requested $2,000 cash bail on each case Tuesday. Court Commissioner Rebecca Lovejoy ordered $500 cash bail for Doty and $1,000 cash bail for Sherman. A condition of release for both men was that they have no contact with a witness in the case.
Doty has a commitment warrant on file for $900 in unpaid fines relating to approximately 10 ordinance violations – including truancy, underage drinking, shoplifting and harassment – Blank told the court. Sherman’s history with the law is more extensive, including convictions for misdemeanor theft, misdemeanor entry into a building and felony burglary, according to online court records. Blank noted that Sherman also has 40 non-criminal adjudications for traffic and ordinance violations since 2007.
A third person of interest to police in connection with the burglary, 18-year-old Echo Banks, appeared in court Friday for a bail/bond hearing. She was released on a $1,000 signature bond. An initial appearance for Banks is set for Wednesday.
According to the criminal complaint, Doty and Sherman are accused of breaking into the home at 2011 N. 22nd St. They emptied ammunition out of a backpack found at the residence, then filled it with the X-box 360 game system, controllers and games, according to the complaint. Sherman originally told Superior Police Detective Michael Jaszczak that they took the items from the garage, but changed his story. He said they entered the house by reaching inside a window and unlocking the backdoor. He told Jaszczak he also took a cell phone picture of the crime scene while at the residence.
A witness overheard Doty and Sherman talk to Banks about going to the house where the murder/suicide happened to see if there was “anything good in the house.” The witness also told Superior police that on the evening of Aug. 20, she saw Doty and Sherman with a military backpack that had an Xbox 360 game system, controllers and games in it.
A backpack with the name Magdzas written on the strap and many of the missing items were recovered from the residence where Sherman and Banks were staying, according to the criminal complaint.
“It’s good somebody came forward with the information,” said Capt. Chad La Lor of the Superior Police Department, noting that thanks to the lead they were able to make arrests and recover some of the stolen property.
Autopsy results from the Aug. 17 murder/suicide are not back yet, La Lor said. Superior police have also requested medical records and records related to Magdzas’ military service in Iraq.
About a dozen people attended a prayer vigil Sunday in response to the deaths of Matthew Magdzas, 23, April Oles-Magdzas, 26, and their 1-year-old daughter, Lila. Put on by the Superior Area Ministerium, the simple, non-denominational service at Concordia Lutheran Church included a couple prayers, a few Scripture readings, a song, candlelight and a time of silence.
The small turnout was a surprise to organizers, according to the Rev. Joel Hueneman, pastor of United Presbyterian Church.
“Given the significance of the effect of the deaths on the community, we expected a bigger response,” he said. “I think people are deeply affected by it. It’s amazing the connections these two families have in Superior.”
About two years ago, members of the Superior Area Ministerium put in place a plan to hold a vigil service if any local homicide should occur. Sunday’s service was the first time that plan was put into place by the ministerium, which includes pastors from churches in Superior and the surrounding area.
They are ready to put on a similar service if there is ever a need. It’s important, Hueneman said.
“It tells the community the church is there and cares about it,” he said. “We believe God’s love can overcome evil; as a community, we get together to support people who are hurting.”
Although few people attended the service, Hueneman noted that any pastor in town would be glad to sit down and discuss the violence and its impact. They have no answers, he said, but they would be happy to talk about it.