Crime

‘Way too young.’ $1 million bonds set for 4 charged in slayings of 16-year-old girls

Police give update on shooting deaths of two 16-year-old girls in Winchester

Winchester Police Capt. James Hall speaks about the fatal shooting of two teen-agers.
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Winchester Police Capt. James Hall speaks about the fatal shooting of two teen-agers.

Four people were jailed Wednesday on $1 million bonds, each charged in the shooting deaths of two 16-year-old girls in Winchester.

The mother of one of the suspects said her daughter didn’t know anyone was going to die. She “is not a killer,” said Rachael Miller, the mother of Mikaela Buford.

The shooting happened about 9 p.m. Tuesday outside a two-story brick house on East Washington Street, about two blocks from Winchester’s Main Street, according to police.

Kayla Holland died at the scene, Winchester police Capt. James Hall said. Adrianna Castro was taken to Clark Regional Hospital, where she died, Hall said.

“There were a number of witnesses here at the scene, and we began interviewing those witnesses,” Hall said. “We were able to identify some suspects, and throughout the night we were able to make some charges on a few individuals.”

Police arrested Buford, 18, Denzel Hill, 24, and Darian Skinner, 22, on Wednesday morning. Each was charged with two counts of complicity to murder, Hall said. All were in the Clark County jail.

A fourth suspect, Ronnie Ellis, 18, was booked into the jail at 12:31 p.m., also charged with complicity to murder. Police had been looking for Ellis earlier in the day, Hall said. He said police are looking for a fifth person, an adult, but no additional arrest had been made as of mid-morning Thursday.

Buford allegedly drove Hill, Skinner and Ellis, Hall said. When the men got out of the vehicle, they began shooting at the apartment building, according to court records.

Buford waited while the shooting occurred and then drove the getaway car for one of the shooters, according to police.

The girls apparently had been visiting someone at the house when shooting erupted, Hall said.

It’s unclear whether the two girls were the intended targets, Hall said.

“We can’t say with any certainty. They may have been targeted, but at this time we don’t believe they were specifically targeted,” Hall said.

The girls were asked in a text message to “come out” and nothing would happen, according to a Facebook post from Gabrielle Holland, Kayla’s sister.

The shootings are “not indicative of Winchester,” Hall said.

“Not just to Winchester but anywhere,” he said. “If this occurred anywhere, it would be shocking.”

Robert Sams, 44, manager of the 28-unit Washington Street Apartments next to the shooting scene, said he heard about five gunshots and saw one body on the ground near a mailbox. Later, he saw another body at the bottom of some side steps.

“They’re way too young, man,” Sams said. “It’s awful stuff. The world’s coming to bad stuff, ain’t it?”

Clark District Judge Earl-Ray Neal entered not-guilty pleas for Buford, Hill, Skinner and Ellis on Wednesday afternoon and set $1 million bonds for each.

Neal scheduled a preliminary hearing for Nov. 15, when he will hear evidence and determine whether there is probable cause to send the cases to a grand jury for possible indictment.

After Wednesday’s arraignment, Rachael Miller spoke to reporters.

“Anybody that knows her knows that she’s not a killer,” Miller said of her daughter.

Miller said her daughter was driving a friend’s vehicle, and that Buford didn’t know that driving Skinner and Hill to the Washington Street address would result in the fatal shooting.

“I know everybody wants to portray her as this cold-blooded killer. My heart goes out to the families of the victims,” Miller said. “But I lost my kid, too.”

Miller said her daughter “had no problems” with the victims and “didn’t even know” Hill and Skinner. Buford attended George Rogers Clark High School with Ronnie Ellis.

Buford was friends on Facebook with Holland and Castro, but she wasn’t with at least two of the other suspects.

Miller said her family and her 16-year-old son have been threatened on social media.

Some of the girls’ relatives turned to social media to talk about their grief. “Me and my best friend just lost our lil sisters. I never would have imagined this,” Holland said on Facebook.

“Long live Adri && baby kay two of the most gorgeous goofy souls on the planet,” Keela Castro wrote.

Clark County Public Schools Superintendent Paul Christy said he couldn’t release information about Holland and Castro because of the police investigation.

But he said grief counselors were in all Clark County schools on Wednesday, not just at George Rogers Clark. The high school has an enrollment of 1,600 students; the district overall has 5,500.

“It’s just a tragic event,” Christy said. “It affects a lot of students, a lot of lives.”

A vigil for Holland and Castro is scheduled for 6 p.m. Thursday at the Clark County Courthouse.

Services for Castro are scheduled for Thursday at 11 a.m. at Scobee Funeral Home, according to the funeral home’s website.

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