FOX 11 News has learned that a grand jury began hearing testimony today in the unsolved murders of Becky Friedli, her mother Vicki and her mother's boyfriend in Pinion Pines in September 2006.
As we reported last month, the Riverside County Sheriff's Department referred the case to the District Attorney's office for review and possible prosecution. Becky's father, Ron Friedli, kept the investigation alive with the help of a volunteer group of former police investigators.
Becky Friedli, her mom Vicki, and her mom's boyfriend, Jon, died a particularly horrible death. Vicki and Jon died first. Becky apparently came home to discover their bodies, tried to run, was chased down, murdered, her body put in a wheelbarrow, and brought back to the house. Her body was doused in gasoline and then she and the house, with mom and the man she considered a step dad, was torched.
This all happened in September, 2006, in the remote mountain community of Pinion Pines, south of Palm Desert. Since then -- questions, suspects, leads, conflicting stories, unverified alibis, allegations of incompetence against the Riverside County Sheriff's Department, conflicts-of-interest charges against the District Attorney's office. Bottom line, here we are in 2014 and no one has ever been arrested.
The family, as you might imagine, has suffered unimaginable pain and, frustrated with what they believed was the lack of progress by law enforcement, turned to a private investigative team led by a former Sheriff's deputy, Luis Bolaños. He claims that key witnesses were never interviewed, a charge a Sheriff's homicide Lieutenant denies. He claims because one of Becky's friends, with insider knowledge of the crimes, is the son of a Riverside County D.A. investigator and a California State Senator, there's a conflict-of-interest and an outside agency should take over. The D.A. recently announced, without much specificity that it has (finally) received the case from the Sheriff's (after almost 8 years), but additional investigative work is needed. That in itself is not uncommon. What is uncommon is that the acrimony and charges flying back and forth between current and former law enforcement. It seems that a grisly triple murder involving an 18-year-old girl would be of the highest priority for law enforcement. Instead, it appears that only because of pressure from Bolaños's group, and coverage he's generated in the news media, that this ''cold case '' is hot again. Hopefully it will result in some answers for the families of the victims (I don't like the word 'closure '' though plenty use it).
P.S.: There's been a $50,000 reward for years, still unclaimed. Maybe, finally, someone will do the right thing. Because whoever killed those three certainly shouldn't get away with it.