Over Skype, four teens conspired to beat a Palos Township couple to death and steal money, prosecutors alleged today.
John and Maria Granat were found beaten to death in their bedroom on Sept. 11 and prosecutors say their teen son and three of his friends killed the couple.
Christopher Wyma, 17, of Bridgeview, Mohammad Salahat, 17, of Chicago Ridge, and Ehab Qasem, 19, of Hickory Hills were all charged with two counts of first degree murder.
On Sept. 11, the couple was found dead in the blood-spattered bedroom of their home on the 12700 block of 81st Court in an unincorporated area of Palos Township near Palos Park. Their son John Granat, 17, was charged with their murders on Sept. 13.
Police said they were able to get several of the teens to confess and lead them to the murder weapons, stolen cash and other evidence.
The three teens appeared at the Bridgeview courthouse Tuesday morning. Dressed in street clothes, the teens stood before Judge Peter Felice.
The courtroom was overflowing with family members and press as the trio learned their request for bail was denied. At one point Salahat could be seen nervously talking to himself, while the other two stood silent. If convicted, they face the possibility of life in jail without parole.
According to Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart, the three teens assisted John Granat with the murder of his mother and father in a quest to steal money from the couple.
Granat gave several conflicting stories to police after the murder, including one that he was with Qasem, Wyma and Salahat the night before he alerted police to his parents' deaths, said assistant state's attorney Peter Troy during today's hearing.
At the time, all three denied they were with Granat on the night of Sept. 10 and testified to that fact before a grand jury, Troy said.
Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart said investigators began following leads several weeks ago that led to today's charges. The three teens were brought in for videotaped questioning on Sunday and admitted to their roles in the killing, Dart said.
The three teens conspired with Granat to kill his parents and steal a large sum of cash that was kept in the home as a result of his father's construction business, Troy said.
The four teens conversed over Skype on Sept. 10, at which point the plan, which they named "Concert", was put into motion, Troy said.
Qasem and Wyma were driven to the Granat home by Salahat who waited in the car during the murders, Dart said. The two teens were let into the home by Granat.
Wyma and Qasem then climbed the stairs to the dark bedroom where they beat the couple with baseball bats, Troy said. Wyma beat John Granat while Salahat beat Maria Granat, Troy said.
During the attack, John Granat awoke and the two worked together to kill him, Troy said. They then left the bedroom and went downstairs where the younger John Granat gave them a knife to "finish them off," Troy said.
Qasem then went back into the bedroom and stabbed Maria Granat several times. He then gave the knife to Granat who stabbed his mother multiple times.
According to the medical examiner's report, Maria Granat was stabbed 20 times.
The three teens then ransacked the house and found large sums of money in file cabinets and safes, Dart said. They also burnt the gloves they wore during the killings, Troy said.
The group then went to Wyma home where they cleaned the bats and knife and divided the cash, Troy said.
About $35,000 was taken from the Granat home, of which $21,000 has been recovered by investigators from the accused quartet.
Dart said the teens told investigators where the murder weapons and bloodied clothes were thrown away. The knife was disposed near the home, while the bats where found in the forest preserves, Dart said.
Dart said that while Salahat was in the car during the murders, he was fully aware of the plans.
Salahat's attorney Joel Brodsky said his client was 16 years old at the time of the crime and emphasized he remained in the car during the murder.
John Russell is representing Wyma and said that the teens family was shocked at the charges.
Granat and Wyma were students at Stagg High School, Qasem graduated from the school last May and has been attending Moraine Valley Community College. Salahat is a junior at Oak Lawn Community High School.
Granat also appeared briefly in court today where his arraignment was delayed. They are all expected to appear in court on Oct. 31.
UPDATED at 1:10 p.m. with additional information from Tuesday's hearing.