Records: Drugs led to triple killings

Turf war ap­pears to be cause of Su­per Bowl night slay­ings in Jupiter.

The Palm Beach Post - - FRONT PAGE - By Han­nah Win­ston and Jorge Mil­ian Palm Beach Post Staff Writ­ers

JUPITER — Drugs were at the cen­ter of the fatal shoot­ings of three young peo­ple in Jupiter on Su­per Bowl Sun­day, ac­cord­ing to more than 1,000 pages of court doc­u­ments re­leased to The Palm Beach Post this week.

Whose drugs or turf were fought over that night and who fired the AK-47 as­sault ri­fle and the hand­gun that killed Kelli J. Do­herty, Sean P. Henry and Brandi El-Salhy are still un­clear more than eight months later.

Do­herty, 20, of Te­questa; Henry, 25, of Jupiter; and El-Salhy, 24, of Gainesville were shot and killed Feb. 5. Po­lice said the three were at a party at the rented Mo­hawk Street home where Charles Vor­pagel was liv­ing. Vor­pagel sur­vived the shoot­ing and was later charged in fed­eral court over the dozens of guns and drugs found through­out his home.

Christo­pher Vasata of Jupiter, who was shot twice that night and found in the road just a few streets away from the crime scene by a parked BMW, is charged with three counts of first-de­gree mur­der. In the newly re­leased doc­u­ments, Vasata told a fel­low in­mate that he and oth­ers went to rob those at the home that night but “his part­ner got trig­ger-happy and so they had to shoot ev­ery­one there.”

Though Vasata, 25, is the only

one in cus­tody, Jupiter po­lice have iden­ti­fied at least two other men — both with long ar­rest his­to­ries for drugs and vi­o­lence, in­clud­ing homi­cide — whose be­long­ings and DNA were found in the BMW. The Palm Beach Post is not nam­ing any of the oth­ers un­der in­ves­ti­ga­tion be­cause they have not been charged in the fatal shoot­ings.

The doc­u­ments re­leased this week by the Palm Beach County State At­tor­ney’s Of­fice — which in­clude in­ter­views, tips and ac­counts of the in­ves­ti­ga­tions by Jupiter po­lice and the FBI — pro­vide in­sight into the bru­tal­ity of the crime scene, the many leads po­lice fol­lowed in the days af­ter the shoot­ing, and the point­ing of fingers and chang­ing of sto­ries be­tween Vasata and Vor­pagel as they both sit be­hind bars.

The shoot­ings

Do­herty, El-Salhy, Henry and Vor­pagel were sit­ting around a fire pit in the back­yard at about 10:30 p.m. on Feb. 5 when neigh­bors said they heard what sounded like fire­crack­ers ring out in the neigh­bor­hood, which sits north of Toney Penna Drive be­tween Maple­wood Drive and Mil­i­tary Trail.

Vor­pagel, 27, told po­lice at least three masked and gloved peo­ple en­tered the back­yard and al­legedly said, “Pay what you owe, (ex­ple­tive).” He told po­lice one of the shoot­ers had gold teeth be­cause he saw them re­flect the fire. Cas­ings and bul­let frag­ments from the AK-47 and the hand­gun ap­peared through­out the back­yard the fol­low­ing morn­ing.

In­ves­ti­ga­tors found Do­herty’s body sit­ting in one of the seats near the fire pit, her eyes still open, with a cig­a­rette be­tween her fingers and one of her arms nearly torn off by rounds from the AK-47. El-Salhy was also dead. Her head was found par­tially in the fire pit. She had been shot in the chest. Henry’s body was found face down, a cig­a­rette still held be­tween his fingers and two bul­lets in the back of his head. A med­i­cal ex­am­iner said those two shots were not from a high-powered weapon.

Po­lice be­lieve Vasata also was shot in the back­yard, but it’s un­clear why, ac­cord­ing to the doc­u­ments. Vasata told po­lice he was there for a Su­per Bowl party and that he was sit­ting with the oth­ers when he was shot. Vor­pagel said not only was Vasata not at his house or in­vited over that night, but Vor­pagel wasn’t even host­ing a Su­per Bowl party. He didn’t have ca­ble TV to watch the game.

Vasata told po­lice he was dragged to a car fol­low­ing the shoot­ing, then pushed out of car into the road­way in Paseos, a neigh­bor­hood of sin­gle-fam­ily homes a few streets south of the shoot­ing scene..

It’s still un­clear who shot Vasata. Vor­pagel told in­ves­ti­ga­tors he thought it might have been Henry, who had a gun on him that night. When in­ves­ti­ga­tors ex­am­ined Henry’s body, a re­volver was found tucked into his waist­band, ac­cord­ing to the court doc­u­ments. Po­lice wrote that the gun was loaded, but did not ap­pear to have been fired.

In front of the home, Vor­pagel told in­ves­ti­ga­tors that Henry’s car, a Honda, was miss­ing.

The in­ves­ti­ga­tion

Af­ter the sun rose Mon­day morn­ing, po­lice found two blood spots by the back­yard pool at the Mo­hawk Street house. A BMW was parked in front of the house. Inside it were items be­long­ing to Vasata and two other men, in­clud­ing phones, busi­ness cards, guns and am­mu­ni­tion. The car was rented to Vasata by an­other man po­lice have in­ves­ti­gated, ac­cord­ing to the court doc­u­ments.

Sur­veil­lance-cam­era footage from homes in the area from that Sun­day night shows a car drive by Vor­pagel’s home at 10:32 p.m. and a minute later at least one per­son was stand­ing in the drive­way by the Honda, which then im­me­di­ately left the area. About 10 min­utes later, a car match­ing the Honda’s de­scrip­tion is seen on footage leav­ing Vasata in the road­way.

Even­tu­ally, Henry’s Honda was found aban­doned along In­ter­state 95 near North­lake Boule­vard. Inside the car was blood and a glove. Nearby were an AK-47, work gloves, a re­volver and a hoodie with keys in the pocket that were later de­ter­mined to be for the BMW found in front of the Mo­hawk Street house, po­lice records show.

Tips came in from all over, ac­cord­ing to the court doc­u­ments. One to the FBI sug­gested the deaths were con­nected to the MS-13 gang. An­other said one of the women’s ex-boyfriends had some­thing to do with it. But the name that kept com­ing up the most was the man who had “rented” the BMW to Vasata.

From his hos­pi­tal bed dur­ing the fol­low­ing days — where he was re­cov­er­ing from wounds caused by bul­lets that had en­tered through his but­tocks and ex­ited through his waist and scro­tum, re­spec­tively — Vasata spoke can­didly with of­fi­cers as­signed to watch him at his bed­side. Some­times it was about the nurses, other times about sports and even­tu­ally about the fatal shoot­ing.

One time he said he was look­ing at heaven and that he just killed three peo­ple, but then later claimed he didn’t say it.

“I’m look­ing at death row, a nee­dle in my arm. I’m look­ing at least at (three) life sen­tences. I’m lay­ing here and I haven’t even started my pu­n­ish­ment,” the doc­u­ments state.

At one point, he even asked one of the of­fi­cers if he could take a 15-year plea deal. An­other time, he said he’s “dealt with cops enough” to know not to say any­thing. Vasata had mul­ti­ple prior ar­rests on drug charges be­fore the night of the shoot­ing.

“I’ve prob­a­bly said too much al­ready,” Vasata said, ac­cord­ing to court doc­u­ments.

In each of his con­ver­sa­tions, Vasata changed his rea­son for be­ing at Vor­pagel’s home, how he got there and what he re­mem­bered.

In a recorded jail con­ver­sa­tion with his girl­friend, Vasata told her he is be­ing framed. But he also told a fel­low in­mate that what hap­pened that night just went wrong: Vasata said he and the oth­ers in­volved were sup­posed to rob the res­i­dents and leave, but then shots were fired and three peo­ple were killed.

In that con­ver­sa­tion, he claimed Vor­pagel was cut­ting into his drug busi­ness. Au­thor­i­ties found mar­i­juana and Xanax tablets pre­pared for sale at the Mo­hawk Street house when they ar­rested Vor­pagel in Fe­bru­ary, along with six guns, in­clud­ing an as­sault ri­fle and a loaded semi-au­to­matic pis­tol.

Vasata said Vor­pagel had pulled out a gun that Sun­day night and that’s when the shoot­ing started. Yet doc­u­ments show Vor­pagel’s hands were tested for gun-pow­der residue at a hos­pi­tal and came back neg­a­tive.

The other men

Many of the tips that came in to Crime Stop­pers of Palm Beach County named one per­son in par­tic­u­lar who was con­nected back to the scene that night and even al­legedly was at Vor­pagel’s house the night be­fore the shoot­ing. His busi­ness card was found in the BMW he had “rented” to Vasata.

Dur­ing in­ter­views, Vor­pagel said Vasata was at his home with Henry on Satur­day, the day be­fore the shoot­ings. Vor­pagel told po­lice he and Henry had sold drugs to­gether through the years and bought some co­caine from Vasata on Fri­day. Henry has no ar­rests, ac­cord­ing to Palm Beach County court records.

In an­other in­ter­view, Vor­pagel said he “couldn’t imag­ine who would want to kill (Henry.) (Henry) was a church­goer and just got back from Haiti,” where he had been on a mis­sion trip.

On the Satur­day be­fore the shoot­ing, Vor­pagel said the group talked about killing an­other man who was “rip­ping peo­ple off ” — the same man who “rented” the BMW to Vasata.

“Vor­pagel said he is cor­dial with the other drug deal­ers in the area and there were not any turf wars; how­ever, with (name) rob­bing ev­ery­one, it was hurt­ing their drug sup­ply,” po­lice wrote in their re­port.

The other per­son whose be­long­ings were found in the BMW had been pre­vi­ously ar­rested for homi­cide but the charges were never filed, ac­cord­ing to court records. He was ar­rested a few months af­ter the Jupiter slay­ings for ob­struc­tion when he tried to stop po­lice from car­ry­ing out a war­rant for his DNA. His DNA matched one of the gloves out­side of the Honda on I-95, ac­cord­ing to the re­port.

It’s un­clear if ei­ther of the men will be ar­rested in the triple homi­cide.

Vasata told an in­mate Vor­pagel was cut­ting into his drug busi­ness.





Chris Vasata has been charged with three counts of first-de­gree mur­der.


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