Two Nevada teens have been charged as adults after a game of Russian roulette turned deadly.
Kody Harlan, 17 (left in photo), and Jaiden Caruso, 16 (right in photo) were arrested and charged in connection with the death of 17-year-old Matthew Minkler.
The teens all played the deadly game on the morning of June 8 in an abandoned house in Henderson, about 16 miles from Las Vegas, according to KLAS-TV in Las Vegas.
Caruso faces a charge of murder with a deadly weapon, and Harlan was charged with accessory to murder, while both face robbery and destruction of evidence charges.
A group of teens were hanging out in the kitchen of the 3,717-square-foot house, according to arrest reports cited by the Las Vegas Review-Journal, when Caruso pulled out a .375-caliber revolver to play Russian roulette, except there was a twist. Instead of letting every teen hold the gun to their own head, Caruso held it for them, and pulled the trigger, the report said. Everyone scattered when Minkler was shot, and no one called 911.
Caruso and Harlan allegedly returned to the scene to clean up the mess. Caruso made snapchat videos with his cell phone, police said, including one where he spoke into the camera and said “Bro, I just caught a body.”
In another video, someone speaks in the background and inquires about what to do with Minkler's corpse. Caruso doesn't reply, according to police, but just walks to the sink and cleans his hands and shoes.
The teens allegedly hid Minkler's body in a closet under a plastic sheet. In what detectives described as a heinous act, the words "Fuck Matthew" were spray painted on the closet door.
Minkler's mother told the Review-Journal she doesn't think the death was accidental.
“We know this wasn’t Russian roulette,” Jamie Shanklin told the paper Wednesday. “My kid was shot in the chin, like they were shutting him up."
Caruso, she said, was not her son's real friend.
“(Caruso) had a ‘beef’ with my son," she told the paper. "He pretended they were friends.”
Caruso and Harlan stole $300 from Minkler's wallet after the shooting, police said, and they used the money to replace Caruso's shoes and buy drugs.
Henderson police didn't find out about the murder until later that evening, after a car chase. Police attempted to pull over a stolen Mercedes driven by Harlan, they said. The car ran a red light and crashed. A number of teens jumped out of the car and started running away. Cops caught Harlan, and he told them about the murder, they said. Police found the wallet and the gun in the car, and when they interrogated Caruso, he admitted his involvement, police said. He said the shooting was accidental and he was high on Xanax when it happened.
Henderson police officer Scott Williams told the Las Vegas Review-Journal that police were still searching for the other teens involved.
“That’s one of the most concerning things about this whole case. Why have these kids not told their parents?” he said. “Having them come forward is not only helpful for us, but these kids witnessed this traumatic event. They need counseling to get that off their chests.”
The act, he said, shook the department, because of its depravity.
“This one will stick with you,” he said, “because it’s so sinister.”
[Photo: Henderson Police Department]
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