Vaughn Computers Show Very Different Lives
An evidence recovery technician shows data that indicates Kimberly Vaughn was interested in fixing her marriage while her husband may have been getting ready to leave it.
It was a tale of two laptops Thursday, as an evidence recovery expert detailed the contents unearthed in Kimberly and Christopher Vaughn's computer hard drives.
In Kimberly's Compaq, Lisa Calarese testified, were Google searches that turned up such topics as romance tips and ways to save a failing marriage, and 133 pages of content that included the word "husband."
Conversely, in Christopher's Dell were Google searches for such topics as gentlemen's clubs, making moccasins and wilderness living, and 129 pages of emails exchanged with an online friend about plans to forge a new life in Canada.
Christopher Vaughn, 37, of Oswego, is on trial for allegedly murdering his wife and three children, ages 12, 11 and 8, as a means of unburdening himself of the family keeping him from pursuing his dreams. The defense, however, maintains it was a suicidal Kimberly Vaughn, then 32, who shot her unfaithful husband before turning the gun on her children and herself.
While Calarese offered no opinions as to what the information she found means, she did detail the words she searched at the direction of the Illinois State Police when looking for potential evidence that could be used in the case.
In Kimberly's computer, for example, she looked for such topics as "infidelity," "divorce," "suicide" and "husband." She found nothing that indicated the woman had looked for information on getting a divorce or what to do in the case of a cheating spouse, but had many hits for such topics as seeking help for marriage problems and relationship counseling.
The only mention of suicide was part of an online discussion on gun regulations for a class Vaughn was taking through the University of Phoenix; the topic was broached by a classmate, not Vaughn.
However, among the many notes with the word "husband" was one Vaughn wrote to her spouse in which she said, "I appreciate everything you do for me and the kids. ... Thanks for being a good husband, father and best friend."
In another, written in October 2006, she talked about being at a party with pilots, flight attendants and other people who traveled a lot and being asked how she knew she could trust her husband, who was often out of town for his job.
"Chris doesn't put himself in a position to cheat," she wrote. "He's not out cruising the bars. He's not the type."
She also noted in various notes that the family's move from Seattle to the Chicago suburbs had been hard on her, in part because she left many friends behind. In another, she makes reference to her husband knowing when she's upset because her jaw line goes rigid and she gets very quiet. That's when he would know, "Monster Mommy's going to come out."
On Christopher Vaughn's computer were found many references to Springfield and to Knights Action Park and Caribbean Water Adventure, which is where the family was headed when the shootings occurred. Calarese also found information on the Missouri bed and breakfast where he said he planned to take his wife for a 13th wedding anniversary surprise the day after the water park trip.
There were also references to a woman named Maya Drake, a former stripper he met at a gentleman's club whom he tried to track down online and whom he referred to in an email as someone he might like to take with him when he moved to the wilderness.
Calarese also found Google searches for Scores, Diamonds and other gentlemen's clubs and to Mega Sports, a Plainfield gun retailer whose shooting range he used the day prior to the family being killed.
Much of what Vaughn had in his computer was encrypted, and Calarese had to obtain a "token" from Vaughn's employer to unlock it, she said. In those encrypted files were lists of information on equipment, cooking, hunting, clothing and other wilderness living topics, photos from the "scouting" trip he made to Canada in May 2007 and other topics related to starting a new life in the wild.
In other testimony from the trial, Illinois State Police fingerprint expert Wilburn Wilkins said he was unable to find any usable fingerprints from the murder weapon, spent cartridges or unused bullets but did find two fingerprints and one palm print -- all from Christopher Vaughn -- on the gun's magazine.
Wilkins also lifted a print from a private investigators' magazine article on ways murder can be made to look like suicide, but it did not belong to either Christopher or Kimberly Vaughn.
Here are the stories from the previous days of testimony: