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Men charged in Pinyon Pines triple-murder for second time in two years

Riversidepapesmith
Cristin Smith and Robert Pape are being held without bail.
(Riverside County Sheriff’s Department)

For the second time in two years, Riverside County prosecutors want to put two men on trial for the deaths of a teenager, her mother and her mother’s boyfriend in Pinyon Pines.

Robert Lars Pape, 28, and Cristin Conrad Smith, 27, were charged Wednesday with three counts of murder and a special circumstance of committing multiple murders in the 2006 slayings of Becky Friedli, her mother, Vicki Friedli, and her mother’s boyfriend, Jon Hayward, prosecutors said. Their bodies were burned after they were killed.

The pair was charged with the killings in 2014, but prosecutors later dismissed the charges because of a legal issue that arose during the proceedings against Pape. New technology and newly uncovered evidence led to the pair’s re-arrest last week. Pape is scheduled to be arraigned Tuesday, and Smith, who was arrested in Sacramento, does not yet have a court date.

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According to prosecutors, the pair shot the mother and daughter and Hayward in the Friedlis’ home, then put Becky Friedli’s body in a wheelbarrow and set it on fire about 70 feet from the house in 2006. They then set the home on fire before fleeing, prosecutors claim.

The bodies were discovered by firefighters, who arrived to put out the blaze. For years, the case went unsolved.

After the sheriff’s investigation stalled, the victims’ families hired a team of private investigators and erected a billboard pleading for information on the case. In 2009, then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger approved a $50,000 reward for information leading to an arrest.

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FOR THE RECORD

June 20, 11:35 a.m.: This article incorrectly says private investigators were hired by the victims’ families. The investigators were brought on pro bono by community members, not the family.

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Pape and Smith were arrested in 2013.

Prosecutors said Pape and Becky Friedli, who was 18 at the time, used to be a couple. Friedli’s friend told police she was planning to go on a hike with Pape and Smith the night she was killed. In an interview with detectives, Pape said he and Smith decided to exclude Friedli and hiked without her.

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When investigators tested DNA on a business card found on a trail that led to the wheelbarrow and Becky Friedli’s body, it was a match for Smith, authorities said.

Because Smith was a juvenile at the time of the killings, he is ineligible for the death penalty. Prosecutors have not decided whether to seek capital punishment against Pape.

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