The relatives of a 15-year-old New Mexico boy accused of killing his father, mother and three siblings have vowed to stand behind him as his case progresses. Nehemiah Griego’s older sister Annette Griego told the Associated Press, ”Nehemiah is a loving kid. He loved his family and he made a really terrible mistake and we don’t know why he did it. We don’t know whether he had a mental breakdown. We just don’t know. We don’t have answers.” Relatives described him as a normal boy who played guitar in the church youth band. The Griego family was prominent in the Christian community–father Greg Griego was a pastor at a local church and ministered to jail inmates.
According to Bernalillo County officials, Nehemiah used a semi-automatic assault-type rifle to kill his father as well as his mother and three siblings, ages 9, 5, and 2, on January 19. After the slayings, say police, Griego went to the church and told his girlfriend that his family had died in a car accident. Hours later, however, Griego allegedly told a church security guard that his family was dead in his home.
Local ABC affiliate KOAT 7 reports that police went to the home and found the bodies of Greg Griego, 51, Sarah Griego, 40, their son Zephania Griego, 9, and daughters Jael Griego, 5, and Angelina Griego, 2. When they brought Nehemiah in for questioning, he allegedly said he’d come home from a sleepover to find his parents dead. When asked about the AR-15 rifle and .22 caliber rifle found in the back of the van he drove to the church, Nehemiah allegedly said that he’d fired them outside “in anger” after finding his family dead.
Nehemiah later allegedly confessed that he’d been having issues with his parents and was experiencing thoughts of suicide and murder. On the night of the murder, Nehemiah allegedly admitted to police, he took the .22 and shot his mother as she slept. He then shot his little brother Zephania, who lay next to his mom. Then, Nehemiah “lost his sense of conscience” and allegedly went to the bedroom where his sisters were crying after hearing the gunshots, and shot them both. Then, according to police, he got the AR-15 and waited for his father to come home. When Greg Griego–the brother of former state Sen. Eric Griego–walked in around 5 a.m., his son allegedly shot him in the back several times.
According to his alleged confession, Nehemiah told police he reloaded the weapons after killing his family so that he could kill more people and eventually commit suicide by cop.
That alleged plan did not work out for Nehemiah, who is now locked up at a juvenile facility awaiting a Wednesday court appearance. He is charged with two counts of first degree murder and three counts of child abuse resulting in death.
Officials say the homeschooled boy had never been in trouble with the law before, and there is no record of emergency calls to the Griego home. According to what neighbors told the Albuquerque Journal, Nehemiah often wore camouflage and wanted to be in the Army.